Bargaining between the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) resumed on November 5, 2020. Learn more.
Alberta’s new economic reality
Alberta has been hit especially hard by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price collapse.
This has affected the livelihoods and circumstances of many Albertans. Alberta’s real GDP is now forecast to contract by -8.1% this year, compared to the Budget 2020 estimate (developed pre-COVID-19) of an increase of +2.5%. The economy contracted by -0.9% in 2019.
It has also led to decreased revenues, increased expenses, higher than anticipated debt, and a record high deficit. As a result, the province now has a forecasted deficit of $21.3 billion in 2020/21, $14 billion higher than estimated in Budget 2020. This is due to a severe decline in revenue, down $8.6 billion from Budget 2020, coupled with increased expenses, mainly due to the COVID-19 response to support Albertans, businesses and the economy.
Alberta now faces a debt burden of $97.4 billion, or $22,000 per Albertan. Total debt-service costs (interest payments) are forecasted at $2.4 billion for 2020-21, the equivalent of $6.61 million a day.
As Albertans, we all have a role to play in our economic recovery and the public sector must be part of the solution.
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 three largest provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The report also found that, in some key areas, in spite of the higher levels of funding, the results achieved are no better and, in some cases, worse than in other provinces.
Making public services sustainable will require common sense collective agreements that over time will help bring Alberta’s spending in line with other provinces. This would permit government to sustain and improve the services Albertans need, while ensuring dedicated public sector workers continue to earn good, competitive wages.
Alberta Public Service bargaining
The Government of Alberta is the employer of the Alberta Public Service and is responsible to negotiate directly with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). Albertans are fortunate to have nearly 27,000 dedicated and hard working government employees committed to keeping Alberta functioning in a safe, secure and productive way.
Bargaining with the AUPE resumed on November 5, 2020.
The province has revised its bargaining position, asking the public service to take an additional 3% reduction in the first year and zeros for the next 3 years. The previous position was for a 1% reduction.
Public sector employees in Alberta
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.
There are 149 separate collective agreements for public sector employees that are negotiated with the unions. This does not include contracts for municipal workers.
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.
Each 1% increase in public sector compensation costs Alberta taxpayers an additional $270 million every year.
November 6, 2020President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance issued the following statement about the negotiations between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and the Alberta Public Service (APS):
October 26, 2020President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on the Alberta Labour Relations Board ruling:
October 26, 2020President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on the illegal strikes:
October 8, 2020President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on United Nurses of Alberta’s rejection of Alberta Health Services’ proposal to delay labour negotiations:
February 6, 2020Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement on collective bargaining negotiations between the Public Service Commission and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.
February 5, 2020President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement about the arbitration decision involving the Health Sciences Association of Alberta.
January 31, 2020Finance Minister Travis Toews issued the following statement on three arbitration decisions involving the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
October 24, 2019Read the speech delivered by Finance Minister Travis Toews to introduce the provincial government's 2019 budget.
August 15, 2019President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews issued the following statement to acknowledge the receipt of the report from the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s finances: