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Prince Albert chapter opposes Saskatchewan government austerity policies

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

The Council of Canadians Prince Albert chapter opposes the latest austerity policies of the Saskatchewan government.

On January 3, the Regina Leader Post noted, “After handing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall his third term, voters learned the province was staring at a $600-million revenue shortfall, mostly caused by low natural resource prices. Wall’s government’s projected deficit is now approaching $1 billion; a far cry from the $107-million surplus predicted in 2015-16 budget.”

CBC adds, “Wall wants to get to work on reducing the province’s deficit and said cutting government jobs is one option. Wall said ‘we are looking, likely, at reducing the size of government — potential layoffs in different sectors.'”

Earlier this month, Regina Leader Post columnist Greg Fingas commented, “Perhaps the most surprising element of Wall’s latest round of threats to Saskatchewan’s public sector workers is the fact that anybody is treating it as news. Yes, Wall has introduced a new line of spin based on the province’s current budgetary position, as well as a new set of demands. But the Saskatchewan Party’s inclination has always been to seek out excuses to take an axe to our public services and the people who provide them.”

Fingas highlights, “From unconstitutional attacks on workers’ bargaining power to repeated arbitrary targets for cuts, Wall has gone far out of his way to ensure that the people who provide us with public services would face uncertainty and stagnation even when the rest of the province was booming. And we shouldn’t pretend for a second that the latest messaging is somehow a matter of inevitability rather than political preferences.”

The Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) says, “Public service workers are facing troubling times as the Wall Government carries out their plan to address their deficit by reducing our wages and benefits. Since Wall’s government has been in place, public services have been reduced, privatized or eliminated. Over the years, we have been able to maintain our fundamental rights and benefits during bargaining. Now, the Wall government has publicly announced their bargaining mandate to attack these fundamental rights and benefits that we fought hard to achieve.”

The SGEU says the public sector is being made to pay for mismanagement by the Wall government including the squandering of a rainy day fund of $1.5 billion, giving $2 billion to a French company for the Regina Bypass, and losing approximately $25 million per year in revenue due to the privatization of liquor stores.

The SGEU will be holding a series of informational meetings on bargaining, including a meeting in Prince Albert on February 8.