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The pay cuts will be in effect indefinitely.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the move a cheap political tactic designed to distract attention from the government’s Monday announcement it would fire 11,000 health-care workers to save an estimated $600 million.
“(These are) 11,000 hard-working, primarily women, primarily people of colour, who go into our hospitals each and every day, put themselves at risk to keep our patients and our loved ones well fed, and to keep those facilities clean and as much as possible free from the virus,” said Notley at an unrelated news conference in Calgary.
The Kenney government has not taken into account the negative impact the loss of those jobs will have on the economy, especially in rural communities, she said.
Notley said the NDP, while in government, paid staffers less on average than the UCP does.
Even with the seven per cent cut, some staff are paid more by the UCP than they were for similar positions under the NDP. When the UCP published a sunshine list of top-earning political staffers in 2019, Kenney’s highest-paid earned about $30,000 more than the staffer with the same title earned in 2018 under Notley.
However, Harrison Fleming, deputy press secretary to Kenney, said Thursday the NDP government had more staffers than the current government. In 2018, the NDP’s last full year in office, they spent $17.6 million on ministerial and premier’s office staff costs. With today’s seven per cent adjustment, the UCP government’s total is $15.2 million — a difference of about $2.4 million, Fleming said.
Pay cuts in government are not unprecedented. In August 2019, a committee of Alberta politicians from the UCP and the NDP unanimously agreed to cut the pay of all MLAs by five per cent, and cut the premier’s pay by 10 per cent.
With files from Jason Herring