Table of contents

Bargaining 2021

Albertans are fortunate to have nearly 25,000 dedicated and hard working government employees committed to keeping the province functioning in a safe, secure and productive way.

Alberta Public Service bargaining update

  • The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have voted in favour of ratifying the Mediator’s recommendation, creating a new collective agreement.
  • The full details of the deal will be made available in the coming weeks.

How the bargaining process works

There are many steps to the bargaining process.

  • Step 1: Collective bargaining

    Collective bargaining occurs between the two parties:

    • If there is an agreement, union members and the government vote to accept or reject the offer.
    • If an agreement cannot be reached, parties proceed with the steps outlined below.
  • Step 2: Essential Service Agreement

    If legislatively required, the parties conclude an Essential Services Agreement (ESA) and file the Labour Relations Board.

    An ESA is an agreement between the union and the employer that provides details about which essential service must be maintained during a strike or lockout.

  • Step 3: Mediation

    Parties file for mediation and it begins, following the Labour Relation's Board acceptance of the ESA, where required.

  • Step 4: Cooling off

    If mediation is not successful, it is followed by a 14 day cooling off period.

  • Step 5: Strike vote / lockout poll

    A Labour Relations Board-supervised strike vote (unions) or lockout poll (employers) must be taken and a majority of those voting must agree to the strike or lockout.

  • Step 6: 72 hours' notice

    One party must serve the other (as well as the mediator) with 72 hours' notice before the strike or lockout begins.

Public sector employees in Alberta

  • In 2019-20, Alberta spent $27.3 billion on public sector compensation. That represents 54% of the Alberta government’s operating budget and is the largest single expense in the budget.
  • More than 230,000 people in Alberta’s public sector work in the core public services of healthcare, K-12 public education, post-secondary institutions and the public service.
  • Each 1% increase in public sector compensation costs $270 million – funding that could be put toward healthcare, education and other vital services.
  • There are 149 separate collective agreements for public sector employees that are negotiated with the unions. This does not include contracts for municipal workers.

Spending

Even before the economic and fiscal crisis, the government was facing a spending challenge. The MacKinnon Report on Alberta’s Finances found that Alberta’s spending per capita is the highest in Canada and has consistently been higher than the average of the 10 provinces over the last 25 years.

Alberta’s annual expenditures would be $10.4 billion less if its per capita spending simply matched the average spending in Canada’s 3 largest provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Making public sector services sustainable will require fair and reasonable collective agreements that over time will help bring Alberta’s spending in line with other provinces. This would ensure government can sustain and improve the services Albertans need.

Compensation

In addition to returning to 2018-19 spending levels, the province has revised its bargaining position, asking the public service to take a 3% compensation reduction.

Albertans pay more than most Canadians for public services. In 2019, we paid $5,470 per person on public sector compensation, compared to $4,834 per person in British Columbia and $4,702 in Ontario.

Some other workers in Alberta's public sector are also compensated higher than their peers are in other comparable provinces.

  • 4.8% higher for teachers
  • 8.1% for registered nurses
  • 6.8% for health care aides
  • 16.3% for pharmacy technicians

Alberta’s economic reality

The annual interest payment on debt could be going to programs and services that benefit all Albertans. The $2.4 billion annual interest payment on debt could pay for:

  • 29,177 registered nurses working for Alberta Health Services
  • 9,622 long term care beds, or
  • 71 K-9 schools

News

  • December 13, 2021
    Minister of Treasury Board and Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement about a new collective agreement between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and the Government of Alberta (GoA):
  • October 13, 2021
    Minister of Treasury Board and Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement about contract negotiations with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and the Government of Alberta (GoA):
  • February 17, 2021
    President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on government’s response to the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE’s) recent complaint to the Alberta Labour Relations Board:
  • January 18, 2021
    President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on the agreement between nurses and Alberta Health Services to provide additional COVID-related supports and delay bargaining until March 31, 2021:

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