“We are thankful for Alberta’s health care support staff – including the hardworking members of the General Support Services – who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic.

“At a time when Alberta has $93 billion in debt, we must keep our focus on the long term fiscal health of the province, as well as the health of Albertans. We must control our spending – and that includes public sector compensation.

“Yesterday at the negotiating table, AUPE asked AHS for a 5 per cent increase in salaries over the next 2 years. That represents $105 million to the Alberta taxpayer. This follows a demand for a 4 per cent raise over 2 years by UNA.

“Albertans pay more than most Canadians for public services – including health care. 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.

“$23 billion was committed to Health expense in Budget 2021 – the largest single-year investment in health care in Alberta’s history. And an additional $1.5 billion was spent on Health in response to COVID-19.

“Our proposal is fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of all Albertans. AHS is offering job security to employees in exchange for the one-time wage reduction. This is a fair and equitable trade.

“AHS is meeting with AUPE later today to continue negotiations. I’m confident both parties can work together to reach a fair and equitable settlement that respects the fiscal situation of the province.”