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New UCP budget shows 100s of job cuts

The UCP’s final budget of their 4-year term shows a loss of nearly 900 public sector jobs over the last 4 years.

The Government of Alberta announced their latest budget yesterday. The 2022–2023 budget will probably be their last budget before next year’s provincial election.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll pull out some data from the budget for several articles. But for my first “breaking” story, I wanted to do something that most mainstream outlets probably won’t be.

This news story will focus on how this budget will affect public sector jobs.

Before I do that, I just wanted to give a high-level snapshot of this year’s budget.

2021-2022
(budget)
2022-2023
(budget)
Change
Revenue$43.7 billion$62.6 billion$18.9 billion
Expenses$62.0 billion$62.2 billion$0.2 billion
Deficit/surplus-$18.2 billion$0.5 billion
Numbers may not add up because of rounding

Resource revenue alone increases by $10.984 billion in this year’s budget over last year’s initial budget. That’s 58.1% of the increase revenue. As well, federal transfers, personal income tax, and corporate income tax are up by around $2 billion each.

Like I said, I’ll do a breakdown on that in a future article.

Let’s get to jobs.

First let’s start with the Government of Alberta jobs. In Schedule 21 of the 2021–2022 budget, the government said that there were 25,878 workers in the various government ministries and departments.

In this year’s budget, the number drops down to 25,844. That means that this government plans to get rid of 34 workers over the next year.

The largest cut will come in the ministry of community and social services, which will axe over 100 workers, nearly 4% of its workforce. Children’s Services, on the other hand, will see the largest increase, at 99 new workers.

Here’s how workers in the various departments will fare over the next fiscal year:

Department2021–20222022–2023Change
Community & Social Services2,6492 ,547-102
Advanced Education 512490-22
Treasury Board & Finance591572-19
TB&F – Public Service Comm.573554-19
Labour & Immigration 851837-14
Culture & Status of Women503498-5
Transportation76577510
Justice & Solicitor General6,5926,60513
Health84887325
Children’s Services2,9163,01599

Anyone else find it slightly ironic that the ministry of labour is cutting their workforce? No? Just me?

Anyhow, all other ministries/departments saw no change in their number of workers.

Now, that we have had 4 budgets from the UCP government, I thought I’d take a look at the change in the number of workers projected in the NDP’s last budget and the number of workers projected in the UCP’s budget.

2018-192022-23Change
Advanced Education575490-85
Ag, Forestry & Rural Economic Dev.1,7011,301-400
Children’s Services2,7683,015247
Community & Social Services3,1632,547-616
Culture & Status of Women568498-70
Education553507-46
Energy562491-71
Environment & Parks2,2132,095-118
Executive Council122118-4
Health910873-37
Indigenous Relations230175-55
Infrastructure938809-129
Jobs, Economy & Innovation373338-35
Justice & Solicitor General6,9876,605-382
Labour & Immigration81683721
Municipal Affairs5905933
Seniors & Housing269249-20
Service Alberta2,2382,132-106
Transportation73277543
Treasury Board & Finance54857224
TB&F – Comm. & Public Engagement309270-39
TB&F – Public Service Commission710554-156
Total27,87525,844-2,031
Note: Some departments have new names:
Agriculture, Forestry & Rural Economic Development = Agriculture & Forestry
Culture & Status of Women = Culture, Multiculturalism & Status of Women
Jobs, Economy & Innovation = Economic Development, Trade & Tourism

What we see here is that over the last 4 years, the UCP sent over 2,000 workers to the unemployment line. That’s assuming that the follow through with their commitment to lay off 35 workers this year.

The largest cut came to—once again—community and social services, which has lost over 600 workers since 2018–2019. Children’s Services saw the largest increase, at nearly 250.

Over the last 4 years, 17 ministries and government departments laid off workers, and 7 of them laid off more than 100 each.

Only 5 departments saw increases.

Now let’s look at workers in K–12, postsecondary, and Alberta Health Services, the so-called SUCH (schools, universities, colleges, and health) workers.

First, here’s how things look compared to last year.

2021-222022-23Change% change
Post-secondary32,14032,14000.00%
K–12, Certificated36,56536,6721070.29%
K–12, Non-certificated25,74625,799530.21%
AHS83,51084,3608501.02%

According to the UCP’s new budget, they don’t plan on seeing any new workers in Alberta’s universities, colleges, and trade schools.

As far as, K–12 schools go, they plan on hiring 107 certificated workers, which I assume means teachers and administrators. There are 63 public, separate, and Francophone school districts/authorities in this province. That’s not even 2 new teachers per school district, let alone per school.

And a 0.29% increase won’t even be enough to cover the 0.9% increase in population the province saw between the third quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021.

Same goes for non-certificated workers, which I assume are support workers of various kinds. The province plans to hire 53 more, at an increase of 0.21%.

The largest increase among the 4 areas is Alberta Health Services. This category includes, doctors, nurses, technical staff, support staff, and administration. The UCP government plans to hire 850 more people in this area, which seems like a lot, but it’s barely a 1% increase, which itself is enough to cover population growth leading up to this budget year. That doesn’t include this next year’s population increase.

Now, let’s look at the changes since the 2018–2019, when the NDP were last in office.

2018-192022-23Change% change
Post-secondary33,58832,140-1,448-4.31%
K–12, Certificated37,19736,672-525-1.41%
K–12, Non-certificated26,45225,799-653-2.47%
AHS80,57084,3603,7904.70%

In the last 4 years, Alberta has lost nearly 1,500 people working in its universities, colleges, and trade schools. It’s lost over 500 certificated K–12 employees and over 650 non-certificated employees.

On the plus side, we’ve seen nearly 3,800 new people working with AHS. I’d be curious to see how many were hired specifically as part of the province’s efforts to respond to COVID-19.

That being said, between the first quarter of 2018, when the NDP released their final budget, and the last quarter of 2021, the most recent data available, Alberta’s population increased by 4.58%.

So the increase in AHS employees barely covers population growth, and that’s not including any growth in population over the next fiscal year.

Remember, however, that the UCP government brought in more healthcare workers to deal with increased demand in COVID-19 testing and dealing with needed but temporary increased capacity for addressing COVID-19 hospitalizations. Which makes me wonder what the staffing increase would’ve been like if COVID-19 never happened.

Finally, here is the change in employees for various agencies and arms length organizations.

2021–222022–23Change
Agriculture Financial Services Corp.5615610
Alberta Energy Regulator9701,04878
Alberta Enterprise Corp.8113
AB Indigenous Opportunities Corp.15150
Alberta Innovates Corporation5875892
Alberta Insurance Council24240
Alberta Investment Mgmt Corp.57262149
Alberta Pensions Services Corp.31633317
Alberta Securities Commission22123211
Alberta Utilities Commission1321320
Canadian Energy Centre10100
Health Quality Council of Alberta33363
Invest Alberta Corporation205030
Legislative Assembly73674812
Natural Resources Conserv. Board34340
Safety Codes Council60600
Travel Alberta Corporation80800
Victims of Crime & Public Safety Fund1911910
Total4,5704,775205

Not a single one of these entities will see a loss of employees between now and the next provincial election. Overall, these groups will see a combined increase of 205 new employees. The largest increase will go to the Alberta Energy Regulator, who will employ 78 more people over the next year.

Here are the same entities but with the change in employees since 2018–2019:

2018–192022–23Change
Agriculture Financial Services Corp.630561-69
Alberta Energy Regulator1,2401,048-192
Alberta Enterprise Corp.6115
Alta Indigenous Opportunities Corp.1515
Alberta Innovates Corp.712589-123
Alberta Insurance Council24240
Alta Investment Management Corp.427621194
Alberta Local Authorities Pension Plan8-8
Alberta Pensions Services Corp.29733336
Alberta Securities Commission20523227
Alberta Utilities Commission143132-11
Canadian Energy Centre (war room)1010
Energy Efficiency Alberta34-34
Health Quality Council of Alberta35361
Invest Alberta Corp.5050
Legislative Assembly7467482
Natural Resources Conserv. Board4734-13
Safety Codes Council60600
Transportation Safety Board12-12
Travel Alberta Corp.80800
Victims of Crime & Public Safety Fund54191137
4,7604,77515

This shows a much different story. Here we see an increase of only 15 employees, and 10 of those are from the oil and gas war room alone.

And remember how the Alberta Energy Regulator saw the largest year-over-year increase? Well, they’re at the opposite end of the spectrum this time, with a loss of nearly 200 employees over the last 4 years.

The largest increase went to Alberta Investment Management Corporation, pretty much cancelling out AER’s losses.

Here’s a summary of the three areas of public sector employees: ministries and departments, SUCH, and agencies.

First, year-over-year changes.

2021–222022–23Change% change
Ministries25,87825,844-34-0.13%
SUCH177,961178,9711,0100.57%
Agencies4,5704,7752054.49%
208,409209,5901,1810.57%

And here are the changes for the last 4 years.

2018–192022–23Change% change
Ministries27,87525,844-2,031-7.29%
SUCH177,807178,9711,1640.65%
Agencies4,7604,775150.32%
210,442209,590-852-0.40%

It might seem impressive that the UCP government plans to hire nearly 1,200 public sector workers over the next year. However, it’s less impressive once you consider all the jobs they cut during the first 3 years.

And now we have a net loss of nearly 900 public sector jobs since 2018–2019.

From a party that had as its 2019 election campaign slogan, “Jobs. Economy. Pipeline.”

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

9 replies on “New UCP budget shows 100s of job cuts”

I think the UCP counts on Albertans just listening to the news release and not examining the numbers any further.
There’s a net loss of public jobs over the past few years and they’re selling it as in increase, it seems.
Further, if the NDP had massively inflated the public service during their term, I suspect the losses would have been even bigger. That they aren’t suggests that the stories about the NDP hiring 59000 new public servants are clearly “fake news” to borrow a phrase.

They’re selling it as an increase because if you look at only the last year, it does look like an increase. And like you said, people will hear the government propaganda and believe it.

Correcting the sh&% show of excessive government jobs (the people helping people doing nothing in government) created by the destructive NDP government was bound to happen. Would you rather them correct that gradually or rip off the bandaid and upset everyone all at once?…it’s the same thing. There’s no “right way” to do it, but you simply can’t expect that mistakes made by the previous government would be quick or easy to correct. There was simply not enough money in the first place for any of those positions. Fluff for votes.

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