Province disputes predictions of major job losses

Alberta's Tory government and a major labour group are sparring over potential job losses that will result when a tight-fisted provincial budget is tabled next month.

The Alberta Federation of Labour is projecting up to 60,000 job losses when Premier Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservatives release their spending plan Feb. 9.

Federation president Gil McGowan stood on the steps of the legislature yesterday to say that a planned $2 billion in budget cuts will destroy thousands of jobs.

"They're not tipping their hand, they're not being forthright with Albertans," McGowan told a handful of reporters. "We've used their own forecasting to make our own estimates and frankly those estimates are frightening.

"With cuts of the magnitude they've been discussing - of between $2 billion and $3 billion - those cuts will result in the loss of between 33,000 jobs and 60,000 jobs."

But a Finance Ministry spokesman said the labour group is wrong and its projections are not based on accurate information.

"They seem to be aimed at creating fear," said Bart Johnson.

Alberta's $2 billion fiscal correction is based on projections that next year's budget will grow by $2 billion, he said.

So the Tory government's goal will be achieved, Johnson said, if it can keep the total budget at the same level of spending as last year - $36.4 billion.

The spring sitting of the legislature opens with a throne speech on Feb. 4.

Metro News Edm, Tues Jan 26 2010

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