Who trimmed more fat: NDP or UCP?

Kim Siever analyzes the number of public servants under the PCs, NDP, and UCP. The results may surprise you.

I was recently having a conversation on Twitter with someone who argued that a government can be a “small” government even if it has increased the number of its public servants. The person argued for this by saying that as long as those increases are in line with population increases, then it’s less of an issue.

So, that made me curious to see how the number of people employed by the Alberta government has changed under the last 3 governments.

Luckily, every provincial budget includes a listing of the number of full-time equivalent positions the government plans to employ over the upcoming budget year. In the current budget, this is found in Schedule 22.

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This is for government employees only, not teachers, medical personnel, post-secondary employees, or other public sector workers.

Keep in mind that this is for projected numbers only. The actual number of people employed may have been higher or lower than this, but I haven’t found actual numbers, just projected numbers.

FTE employeesChange% change

Although the PC government had been in power for over 40 years, I included only the last 4 of those years for this purpose: between the 2011–2012 and 2014–2015 budget years.

During their final year of their dynasty, the PC government predicted that that were going to employ over 1,500 more public sector employees than they had just 4 years prior.

That’s an average increase of about 380 people per year.

Under the NDP, however, projection saw a massive drop, with the number of public sector workers being reduced by nearly 2,600 people, when your compare their final projection with the PC’s final projection.

That was an 8.5% decline.

Given the constant rhetoric around how the NDP just hired all of their friends and ballooned the public service, this might be a bit of a revelation for some people.

The UCP continued those massive cuts during their first 4 years, reducing the public service by another 1,827. That’s more than 6.5%. Between the NDP and the UCP, the last two government collectively reduced the public service by over 4,400, or 14.5%.

Given the massive cuts between these two parties, I didn’t think there was any point in comparing these numbers against population growth, seeing as the numbers were lower, regardless of population.

Now before UCP supporters get pretty pumped about their party’s performance over the last 4 years—even if it wasn’t as “impressive” as the NDP—there’s one more thing you should know.

For this new budget year, the UCP plan to increase the number of people working directly for the government.

If all goes to plan, the UCP government hopes to employ 27,572 people, an increase of nearly 1,600 people. And remember, that’s over just the next year.

That’ll wipe out 87% of the job losses they brought in over the last 4 years and leave the public service with only 236 fewer employees than the NDP projected in their final budget. That’s an overall cut of less than 1%.

So, if anyone thinks that Danielle Smith is going to clean house as a newly-elected premier, maybe don’t get your hopes up just yet. Neither of the two UCP premiers seem to be as ruthless as Rachel Notley was.

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By Kim Siever

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

2 replies on “Who trimmed more fat: NDP or UCP?”

Another factor that skews all these employment numbers Kim is contract employees and “consultants”. They are not counted in with FTEs, so it’s hard to tell what the real numbers are for any organization. I learned this early on in my HR career.

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