Budget may cut 60,000 jobs: Provincial plan could be worse than recession, says labour federation

As many as 60,000 jobs could be lost because of provincial government budget cuts, warns the Alberta Federation of Labour in a report released Monday.

The document titled Worse Than The Recession says the province is poised to cut an estimated $2 billion to $3.72 billion when they release the 2010-11 budget on Feb. 9, which could result in the loss of between 33,000 and 60,000 jobs.

This is higher than the 45,000 total jobs lost in Alberta since the beginning of the global recession in October 2008, said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan.

"If the provincial budget cuts are at the higher range in the order of close to $3.5 billion, then they may end up killing more jobs in the province than the recession did," he said.

And the cuts won't just affect workers in the public sector, McGowan said, adding private sector workers could see an even bigger impact.

"Our economic model suggests there will be more cuts in the private sector than the public, simply in loss of jobs that provide services to the government and indirect job loss where public sector workers would have been spending money had they been able to hold on to their jobs."

The government shouldn't have to make such drastic cuts, McGowan said, adding they are in a better position than any other province to ride out the recession and have access to various "rainy-day funds" that can help, such as the province's Sustainability Fund.

"The economy is just now starting to turn around," McGowan said. "The last thing Albertans need is for the government to implement (former premier Ralph) Klein-style cuts, undermining recovery before it takes hold."

But Bart Johnson, spokesman for Alberta Finance and Enterprise, said the Alberta Federation of Labour's figures are wrong and "way off the mark."

The government's approach to budgeting has been focused on protecting "important services and important jobs," which includes capital spending of $6.9 billion to support 70,000 jobs, said Johnson.

"I can't go into detail with the budget at this time, but I can tell you that from what I've seen of (the AFL's) report, it looks like something that's there to generate fear based on false assumptions and exaggerations," Johnson said. "I think the AFL's report and news conference was a stunt apparently aimed at generating fear."

Edmonton Sun, Mon Jan 25 2010
Byline: Clara Ho

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.