PREMIER STEPHEN MCNEIL “While McNeil would only hint at what measures are contemplated for the economy, he identified public-sector wages as a key to getting government spending under control.” Premier Stephen McNeil, In The Province, Dec. 30, 2014
There are many other quotes we could have pulled for you that say the same thing. Headlines like: “Nova Scotia faces wage, program restraint in 2015: Premier McNeil”, in the Chronicle Herald Dec. 30, 2014; or “Premier Stephen McNeil takes aim at public sector costs,” CBC Sept. 25, 2014. The government will be looking for wage restraint at the Civil Service bargaining table.
We have also heard that the government is looking for a longer term for the agreement. More like a five year term, rather than a two or three year one.
It is clear from the budget government doesn’t value the public sector as it includes less money for wage increases in the future. They can’t seem to see the relationship between wage increases and economic activity – and see them purely as an expense. This is made clear in their attack on fair wage settlements. They blame the three-year wage pattern of 2, 2.5, and 3 percent increases in the last round of bargaining as the reason for the deficit but don’t acknowledge the revenue they generate. What about the other side of the ledger where modest wage increases allow people to keep pace with increases in food and energy costs? These wages circulate in communities and support local businesses. They come back to the government as taxes.
While the Liberals have attacked the last three years of modest wage increases, (ignoring the two years of one percent increases that preceded them), they had no problem raising user fees for government services by three percent. Finance Minister Diana Whalen called the move a “standard increase,” one that is reflective of cost-of-living increases and a common practice. She was quoted saying, “This is something that, in fact, should be done every year, just to keep pace with the cost of living.” Why is this practice standard when it comes to fees, but considered outrageous when it comes to the salaries of the people who deliver the services?
McNeil is headed in the wrong direction for our economy.
Every dollar that the government takes out of our economy through measures like this will have an impact on our productivity as a province. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist, after looking at the impacts of measures like wage restraint, reported that you lose anywhere from 0.7 – 1.7 dollars for every dollar you remove from the public sector. This path will constrict the economy and will make the deficit worse in Nova Scotia. It is a failed approach.
Innovation, investment, and stimulation are needed to keep our young people here.
The Ivany Report recommends innovation and investment in our economy in order to create an atmosphere where young people can find a good job and stay. Nowhere in the Ivany Report does it recommend cutting public services and jobs in the public sector. Wage restraint and cuts will only chase more young people away and give them more reasons to leave.
Please do as many or all of the things in the “Toolkit” to raise your voice to protect and defend public services and the benefits we have negotiated over the years.
Our twitter handle is #actnow. Some suggestions for tweets could be:
Ivany report recommends innovation, not cuts to public services @nsgeu #actnow
McNeil:don’t cut jobs & programs in spring budget. It will make NS worse@nsgeu#actnow