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No money in budget for public sector raises: Finance Minister

Travis Toews, Minister of Finance, speaks to the media about the MacKinnon Panel report on Alberta???s Finances in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON – Alberta’s finance minister said there could be more job cuts if public-sector workers get raises in upcoming arbitrated wage negotiations.

Travis Toews said there’s no money in the budget for raises.

Earlier this week, Toews said the government wants arbitrators to impose an average two per cent pay cut in 30 wage arbitrations involving more than 180,000 workers.

READ MORE: Alberta asking arbitrators to cut public service pay by two per cent

In some cases, the province is asking for rollbacks as high as five per cent.

“We cannot ask Alberta taxpayers to fund public-sector pay raises during a time when far too many workers in the private sector have lost their jobs and many others have seen significant pay cuts in recent years,” said Toews.

The Finance Minister said public-sector pay accounts for more than half of government expenses.

Negotiations with public sector workers are expected to resume in December and many groups including the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) said they will fight the proposed rollbacks.