EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour estimates as many as 60,000 jobs could be lost if the government cuts billions from the provincial budget next month.
The number of jobs lost - not backed up by any government documents or confirmation to date - would outpace even the effects of the global recession, federation president Gil McGowan said Monday morning.
"It's true that the government has not been talking about job cuts," McGowan said. But, "You can't cut $2 or $3 billion out of a provincial budget and not see job losses."
The federation outlines the risk of cutting government spending in a report called "Worse Than the Recession," released Monday.
The province is expected to outline the road to $2 billion in cuts and savings when the 2010-11 budget is released Feb. 9.
A second $2-billion "fiscal correction" is expected in the 2011-12 budget, as Premier Ed Stelmach's government works its way out of a deficit.
"That seems vastly exaggerated," Finance Minister Ted Morton said of the federation's estimate, noting the province has been talking to labour groups about minimizing job losses. "We're hoping they'll be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
In 2009, a total of 28,600 jobs were lost in Alberta.
Edmonton Journal.com, Mon Jan 25 2010
Byline: Trish Audette
Join Together Alberta - a coalition campaign to save Alberta's public services.
- The Join Together Alberta campaign was conceived and launched jointly by a number of Alberta unions and union groups in cooperation with various community and advocacy groups. All of the participating organizations share deep concerns about the impacts that deep cuts to public services will have on individuals, families and communities within Alberta. They also share a belief that best way forward for Alberta is to embrace a high-road approach to our future - one that focuses on smart investments in people, communities and the economy - as opposed to a low-road approach -one that focuses on cutting spending and leaving individuals, families and communities to increasingly fend for themselves. For more information - http://www.jointogetheralberta.ca
Old Dutch Lockout Ends Following Landmark Labour Board Ruling
- In a landmark ruling, the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) has determined that Alberta labour legislation interferes with the constitutional rights of workers and has suspended the months-long lockout of UFCW Canada Local 401 members by Old Dutch Foods. Click here for the full text of the decision.
Year-end labour force numbers show Albertans are still hurting even as province starts to emerge from recession
- Year-end employment figures released by Statistics Canada paint a picture of an Alberta labour force that is still hurting even as the provincial economy begins to show signs of emerging from the recession. "The recovery seems to be coming, but Albertans are still hurting and the provincial labour market is still very fragile," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. For more information ...
Next Up Alberta - Youth Leadership Program 2010
- Next Up was created by a group of young people between 18 and 32 years old who wanted to help emerging leaders develop new and better skills, smarts and ideas. The program is intense. Over five months, we'll dive into a number of topics and disciplines, combining theory, practice, deep thinking, and hard skills. We'll look at some of the most pressing Canadian foreign and domestic policy issues, and where "progressive" thinking is at on how to solve them. We'll look at how change is made in society. And we'll meet some of the most innovative change-makers in Alberta - from the non-profit, business and public sectors - who are working for a better world. For more details ...
Join Together Alberta
- Register for one of the 22 town halls nearest you!
- Albertans from communities are coming together over the next several weeks to send Premier Stelmach the message that our public services are the fabric that keeps our local communities together.
- Click here to find the complete schedule of town hall meetings and to register (http://www.jointogetheralberta.org/events) and then sent the link along to your coworkers, friends and family.
- Click here to sign the petition (http://www.jointogetheralberta.org/content/sign-petition) to save our public services.
- Go here to write a letter to Premier Stelmach and your MLA (http://www.jointogetheralberta.org/write-letter).
- Join our Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=app_2373072738&gid=247817444550#/group.php?gid=247817444550) or follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/JoinTogetherAB).
Re-making Alberta: Recession alternatives for an Alberta that works
February 12th and 13th, 2010
Lister Conference Centre, 86 Avenue and 116 Street
University of Alberta, Edmonton
Registration fee: $50
Alberta is taking the low road in this recession with budget cuts and public service cuts. The AFL and the Parkland Institute are presenting this conference that will explore questions such as: Is there a high road out of this recession? What can we learn from other countries and provinces? What will the impacts of the cuts be? What does the high road look like for Alberta? For the brochure ...
Did you know...
That if Alberta replaced its regressive flat tax (10% across the board) with the progressive taxation system that was in place before 2001, that the province would have taken in $5.5 billion more in 2006 alone.
The provincial government's most recent deficit projections are for a $4.3-billion deficit this year leading the Premier to warn that severe cuts are once again on their way.
Deep public-sector spending cuts will kill tens of thousands of private-sector jobs, along with public onesThe Stelmach government will stifle Alberta's fragile recovery and create its own made-in-Alberta recession if it proceeds with deep cuts to public spending, warns a new report to be released Monday, January 25, 2010.
The report, entitled "Worse than the Recession?" has been prepared by the Alberta Federation of Labour as part of the Join Together Alberta campaign. The report will show that tens of thousands of jobs could disappear as a result of proposals by the Alberta government to slash spending.
"While other governments around the globe are proceeding with stimulus packages to soften the effects of the recession, the Alberta government has made it clear that it is considering spending cuts reminiscent of the Klein era," says AFL president Gil McGowan.
"Economists and politicians of all stripes have reported that stimulus spending is working. It has saved existing jobs and will create new jobs. However, it appears that the Alberta government hasn't read the memo."
The report will be released Monday, January 25th, at two media availabilities - one in Edmonton and one in Calgary. A group of workers and students who may be affected by the cuts will be on hand, along with McGowan, to answer questions from the media.
Edmonton Time: 9:30 a.m. Location: steps of the Alberta Legislature (10800 - 97 Avenue)
Calgary: Time: 2:00 p.m. Location: steps of the McDougall Centre (455 - 6 Street SW)
- 30 -
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL president @ (780) 218-9888 (cell)
Public service organizations are launching a new coalition, with their sights aimed at new Finance Minister Ted Morton.
The Join Together Alberta coalition, comprised of representatives of service, student, labour and educational organizations, is scheduled to launch its campaign today in Calgary and Edmonton.
"It's been in the works for several months, at least since the summer when (Treasury Board president) Lloyd Snelgrove called groups and individuals in to tell us the government was considering big cuts," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "We're assuming that the upcoming budget will be a bad one."
McGowan said assigning Morton -- seen as one of the most right-wing members of the government caucus -- the finance portfolio could signal "a return to Klein-style cuts. ...Based on his track record and his reputation, it's pretty clear to us that Ted Morton is no friend to public services."
But speaking Thursday in Calgary media, Stelmach discounted notions the cabinet is swinging left or right.
"This is a strong signal that today ... all Albertans have the right team for today's priorities."
Morton said he is committed to sticking with the premier's plan to balance the budget by 2012. Last year, the government introduced its first deficit budget in more than 10 years.
"Nobody gets everything they want," Morton said of the budget, which is expected to be released Feb. 9. "Am I happy with everything? Of course not. Nobody would be. I doubt even the premier's happy with everything. But I support (the budget) 100 per cent."
Edmonton Journal, Fri Jan 15 2010
Byline: Trish Audette
Ted Morton, who relinquishes his Sustainable Resource Development portfolio to take over the fiscal file when the premier's new cabinet is sworn in today, said he's committed to making sure the deficit-strapped province delivers a balanced budget by 2012.
"The minister of Treasury Board admitted that for the past 10 years, government of Alberta spending had been like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The buffet is going to start getting closed down tomorrow," Morton, a fiscal conservative, said Thursday after a media conference with the premier and seven Calgary area cabinet ministers.
Alberta's 2010-11 budget will be delivered Feb. 9.
Stelmach said spending increases will be kept in line with population growth, plus inflation. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, that increase could range between 2.95 per cent and 5.2 per cent, depending on which formula is used.
The Tory government has pledged to slash $2 billion from its budget to keep next year's projected multibillion-dollar deficit from climbing higher. Stelmach, however, declined to disclose where cuts will be made.
"There will be tightening of the budget," the premier told a radio talk show. "There will be tough decisions to be made and I'm confident we have the people in the right place."
On Wednesday, Stelmach overhauled his cabinet, bouncing three ministers to the backbenches and changing the face of 13 of 23 departments. Opposition parties, however, criticized the cabinet shuffle as timid, contending the changes are largely cosmetic.
"We see a lot of the same faces around the table," Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith noted.
"A lot of those people who are in cabinet were responsible for making the decisions that have resulted in so many problems in the last few years, whether it's the royalty framework or the problems with the health superboard or whether it's the return to deficit financing."
This is Stelmach's third cabinet lineup since he became premier in December 2006. He said he plans to shuffle his inner circle at least one more time before the next election.
New Energy Minister Ron Liepert, who leaves the hot-button health-care portfolio for another thorny file, conceded several government decisions have frustrated many traditional Tory backers in Calgary. Recent opinion polls show public support for the Conservatives has plunged, while the Wildrose Alliance's popularity has grown.
"I'm not going to deny that there isn't lashing out going on out there," Liepert said.
"But there isn't an election this spring. There isn't one next spring, and so we have an opportunity to let some of the tough policy decisions we've had to take work their way through the system."
One contentious policy decision that will soon receive a makeover is Alberta's new oil and gas royalty regime.
Stelmach said the findings of a competitiveness review examining royalties will be released by month's end. Liepert pledged to act swiftly on recommendations.
Shortly after the oil and gas review, the province will deliver a throne speech and budget. With widespread cuts expected, a new coalition of labour unions, education organizations and student groups -- called Join Together Alberta -- is gearing up for a fight.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said the promotion of fiscal hawk Morton to Finance and Enterprise could signal a return to deep spending cuts reminiscent of the Ralph Klein era.
"Based on his track record and his reputation, it's pretty clear to us that Ted Morton is no friend to public services," McGowan said.
Both the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta took aim at Morton's assertion the province has overspent in previous years.
"It's hyperbole," AUPE president Guy Smith said. "Government spending has not been out of control when you compare it with the influx of population."
Elisabeth Ballermann, president of the health sciences union, suggested most patients would disagree with Morton.
"If you're talking to Albertans sitting in wait lines, who can't find a family physician, who can't get an MRI . . . then I would suggest those people will tell you it hasn't been an all-you-can-eat buffet."
Spending watchdogs disagree, arguing the Alberta government has spent too much in the past -- and not always in the right areas.
Alberta Chamber of Commerce president Ken Kobly applauded the province's plan to craft a budget based on population growth, plus inflation. Kobly cautioned against cutting infrastructure spending. "Right now, capital expenditures are a bargain and we should take that into account," he said.
Calgary Herald, Fri Jan 15 2010
Byline: Renata D'Aliesio
The campaign, called Join Together Alberta, is organizing a series of 22 town hall events across Alberta to rally public resistance to the budget cuts aimed at dealing with Alberta's anticipated deficit of $4.3 billion.
"I think there is a growing feeling among Albertans - whether it is here in Edmonton or in Calgary or across the province - that this government is heading off in the wrong direction," said Gil McGowan of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"They are going the wrong way when it comes to health care, education and basically any other public service that people are concerned about."
The executive director of the Gateway Association for Community Living said people don't always recognize what the cuts will mean to their community unless they're directly affected.
"Even if it's not something that will impact them today, it can very likely impact them or someone they know and love in the next little while," said Cindy de Bruijn.Concern over new finance minister
Public Interest Alberta, one of the groups in the coalition, is particularly concerned with the appointment of Ted Morton as Alberta's new finance minister.
"I think he said the other day that we'd been eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet for too long," said Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of PIA.
"I don't think people who have been struggling to find services for their children, or seniors who've been struggling to get care can say that we've been eating at the all-you-can-eat buffet."
"The fact of the matter is that we have billions of dollars in our sustainability fund. Every other jurisdiction in North America and around the world are actually putting money into investing and stimulating their economy, not cutting."
The town halls will begin Jan. 25, with events in Brooks and Olds. The campaign will culminate at the University of Calgary on Feb. 16 and the Polish Hall in Edmonton on Feb. 17.
CBC News, Fri Jan 15 2010
With his party falling in the polls, Stelmach named Edmonton MLA Gene Zwozdesky as the new minister of health, taking over from Ron Liepert, who becomes minister of energy.
Zwozdesky, a veteran cabinet minister, is widely regarded as more affable than Liepert, and he won cautious support from government critics. But he takes over a ministry facing a $1.4-billion deficit and still struggling to find its footing after a massive structural reorganization.
Ted Morton takes the reins of Finance from Sherwood Park MLA Iris Evans, who is now the Minister of International and Intergovernmental relations.
Morton, the former minister of Sustainable Resource Development, is revered in conservative circles. He will now step into a more prominent role, fending off criticism from the Wildrose Alliance that the government spends too much.
Stelmach said the changes don't necessarily mean changes in policy, but rather a different way of talking to Albertans.
"The team that I've put together is better prepared to communicate the policies and direction of the government," Stelmach said.
In all, 10 ministers kept their old jobs, including Education Minister Dave Hancock and Justice Minister Alison Redford.
Advanced Education Minister Doug Horner also stays in the same job, but is now the deputy premier.
Despite speculation the new cabinet would be rife with newcomers, there were only three new faces: Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who is the Employment minister; Calgary MLA Jonathan Denis, the Housing minister and Frank Oberle, who takes over as Solicitor General.
Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths was widely rumoured to be in line for a cabinet post, but will instead join Treasury Board. He admitted he was disappointed with the shuffle.
"I think it's more regrettable that a lot of really good, fresh, young, new talented faces didn't get into cabinet," Griffiths said. "Diana (McQueen), Raj (Sherman), Fred (Horne), Kyle (Fawcett), Jeff Johnson, Cal Dallas. There are a lot of good, talented people. It's unfortunate they didn't get the call."
Three MLAs -- Janis Tarchuk, Fred Lindsay and George Groeneveld -- were relegated to the backbenches.
Critics said the moves were too timid, given the clamour for change that Stelmach said he heard after his party leadership review in the fall.
"I don't think this premier got the message from Albertans," Liberal Leader David Swann said. "From the last cabinet, the 12 most influential people are still the 12 most influential people."
Wildrose Alliance Party Leader Danielle Smith called the changes "window dressing." She put little stock in Morton's move to finance.
"He's going to end up in the same position the previous Finance minister was in, which is all the decisions being made over in Treasury Board," Smith said, adding that Morton was part of the cabinet that decided to go into a deficit spending.
But others said Morton's promotion is a sign the government is going to adopt slash and burn fiscal policies.
"To give him control of the province's finances is sending a message that there's going to be a shift to the right economically ... and I expect that will not bode well for those that want to see seniors care and health care properly funded," NDP Leader Brian Mason said.
The Alberta Federation of Labour also criticized Morton's promotion, saying it is a bad omen for the public service.
Liepert's move to Energy ends a rocky two years in the health job. Stelmach praised him for accomplishing structural changes by combining the province's health regions into a single superboard.
Liepert said he was neither happy nor sad about leaving the post.
"I believe that there is no other portfolio in Alberta that has a greater impact in the minds of Albertans than health care and that was certainly something I learned in spades," Liepert said.
"It was a very challenging time but a lot of that was brought on by the fact that we really felt that we had to change how we deliver health care."
Liepert's new job was greeted by praise from the energy industry, but others say there's trouble on the horizon.
"It's a sensitive position, an important position ... and it requires someone with diplomatic skills and Mr. Liepert is sorely lacking in that regard," Mason said. "Same bull, different china shop."
The cabinet remains at 23 members. The new ministers are expected to be sworn-in Friday.
Edmonton Journal, Thurs Jan 14 2010
Byline: Trish Audette and Archie McLean
Alberta's public service in jeopardy, McGowan saysAlberta Federation of Labour president, Gil McGowan, expressed grave concern over Premier Ed Stelmach's pick for Finance Minister in his new cabinet announced today.
"The choice of Ted Morton as Finance Minister will undoubtedly mean deep cuts to Alberta's public service and needless job losses," said McGowan. "This comes at a time when no such cuts are warranted."
McGowan noted that Alberta continues to enjoy one of the strongest economies in the world despite the recent recession and all signs point to a steady recovery in the months to come.
Ted Morton campaigned for leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party on a platform of decreased government spending and a smaller public service.
"This is an obvious, knee-jerk reaction to the sudden popularity of an ultra-conservative party in Alberta that is threatening the premier's own political future," added McGowan. "The losers in this scenario will be Alberta's working men and women who are caught in the cross-hairs of a political showdown."
"What working Albertans really need is recognition from our government that the public service is an essential part of growing our economy and keeping our communities whole. Unfortunately, this cynical move from Premier Stelmach leaves the future of thousands of workers in jeopardy."
For more information call:
Gil McGowan, AFL president @ (780) 218-9888 (cell)
The premier officially announced the cabinet shuffle on Wednesday.
As predicted, Ron Liepert has been removed from the health portfolio and will now serve as minister of energy.
The new minister of health is Gene Zwozdesky.
Mel Knight is the new minister responsible for sustainable resource development and Ted Morton has been reassigned to finance.
Morton's appointment has raised concern at the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Officials say during Morton's campaign for leadership of the PC Party he promised to reduce government spending and create a smaller public service.
"The choice of Ted Morton as finance minister will undoubtedly mean deep cuts to Alberta's public service and needless job losses," says Gil McGowan, the federation's president.
Iris Evans has been reassigned to international and intergovernmental relations. She used to be minister of finance.
Three ministers have also lost their posts including, Fred Lindsay who is being replaced by Frank Oberle as solicitor general, Jack Hayden will take over agriculture from George Groeneveld, and Janice Tarchuk loses children and youth services to Yvonne Fritz.
The leader of the provincial NDP is not impressed with the changes. "These are mostly the same faces. This is a tired, cynical government that is out of ideas," says Brian Mason.
The leader of the provincial Liberals says he was also hoping for some new faces. "We have a premier who has demonstrated time and time again that he is unwilling and incapable of changing the people around him," says David Swann.
Swann says he is happy Liepert has been moved out of the health portfolio. "Hopefully, Minister Liepert will not do the same damage to the energy industry that he did to the health care system."
The new cabinet will be sworn in on Friday morning at Government House.
CTV Calgary.ca, Wed Jan 13 2010
EDMONTON - Premier Ed Stelmach is overhauling Alberta's 24-member cabinet in attempt to turn around his Progressive Conservative government's sagging popularity.
Fiscal hawk Ted Morton moves to finance, where the government has promised to cut $2 billion from the deficit in next month's budget.
Morton was instrumental in the now defunct Reform Party during its founding years and was once appointed as a policy director.
Former Liberal Gene Zwozdesky has been named Health minister, replacing the feisty Ron Liepert, who is going from one trouble spot to another as the new Energy minister.
Fred Lindsay was replaced by Frank Oberle as Solicitor General; Jack Hayden takes over Agriculture from George Groeneveld and Janice Tarchuk will hand over the Department of Children and Youth Services to Yvonne Fritz.
Edmonton's Thomas Lukaszuk is taking over the Employment Department, while Jonathan Denis, a rookie member from Calgary, gets the Housing portfolio.
The premier used a sports analogy Wednesday as he described the changes to his front bench.
"Putting together a cabinet is not about extremes," Stelmach told a news conference. "It's about putting the best athletes in the best positions."
Doug Horner becomes deputy premier and remains in Advanced Education, while Iris Evans moves from Finance to Intergovernmental Relations.
Mel Knight leaves energy to become minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Hector Goudreau takes Municipal Affairs, and Ray Danyluk moves to Infrastructure.
Len Webber is now minister of Aboriginal Relations.
Zwozdesky says one of his first jobs will be to let people know he's not focusing on privatizing public health care services.
"I'm here to protect a cherished health care system that exists under the Canada Health Act," he told reporters.
"My first priority is to deliver the top performing publicly funded health care system in the Dominion and that's what I'm going to do."
Liberal Opposition Leader David Swann described the new health minister as "a listener" who will be a welcome change from Liepert.
"I have confidence that he will listen both to the evidence and to the professionals in the system that have been good ideas on how it could be better," said Swann.
Swann also said appointing Morton as finance minister will steal some of the thunder from the right-wing Wildrose Alliance, which shares some of Morton's views on fiscal issues.
"We're going to see more fiscal conservatism from Mr. Morton," he said. "This is a clear indication that the Tory party is moving to the right."
NDP Leader Brian Mason says the premier again appears to be snubbing Calgary with his cabinet selections, including the choice of a deputy premier - from the Edmonton area.
Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith says most Albertans will see this as only a minor change.
"A lot of these are the same faces as before, so I don't think there's going to be any real impact overall," Smith said in an interview.
"If you start moving the passengers around in a busted-up, broken-down van, it doesn't change the fact that the van is busted up and broken down."
Recent polls suggest Stelmach's Tories are facing a strong challenge from the upstart Wildrose Alliance, which recently gained two Conservative government defectors.
Liepert faced the brunt of growing discontent among Albertans over health changes and many critics had called for his resignation. Nearly 500 people packed a community meeting in Edmonton this week to voice their protests over cuts to health programs and beds.
But he said Wednesday he's proud of what he accomplished over the last two years as he helped launch "the most aggressive change in health-care delivery in the history of Alberta."
"We've just started the necessary changes in health care," he said. "We've laid the foundation and over the next year or two you're going to see what this health-care house is going to look like."
Travis Davies, spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said he's optimistic about Liepert.
The energy industry hopes to see some policy changes coming from a competitiveness review the government has been doing for the past year, said Davies.
"It is obviously extremely critical and the oil and gas industry is vital to the continued prosperity of Alberta," he said.
Morton's appointment is already sending shockwaves through the public sector unions.
"Morton as finance minister will undoubtedly mean deep cuts to Alberta's public service and needless job losses," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Friends of Medicare spokesman David Eggen said he hopes that Zwozdesky reverses some of the hospital bed closures that Liepert had previously announced.
"We have half as many hospital beds in this province as we did 15 years ago and the population has grown by at least 50 per cent and that just doesn't add up," said Eggen.
"People wait too long for hospital beds and access to a doctor."
In energy, Liepert will face a backlash from the oilpatch over changes to Alberta's royalty structure, which, coupled with falling oil and natural gas prices, has dried up energy-related investment and jobs in the province.
Stelmach said the new cabinet will help get Alberta out of the recession.
"I have promised Albertans that we will be back in the black in three years and I have not wavered from that commitment," said the premier.
"We are going to take the necessary steps to ensure we emerge from this economic downturn even stronger than before."
The spring sitting of the legislature begins Feb. 4 with a throne speech, with the budget to follow five days later.
1310 Ottawa, Wed Jan 13 2010
Coast Reporter, Wed Jan 13 2010
Oilweek, Wed Jan 13 2010
Byline: Jim MacDonald, Canadian Press