Belt-tightening likely on the agenda as premier meets with unions

Premier Jim Prentice will meet with the leaders of Alberta’s public sector unions on Thursday to discuss the province’s financial situation ahead of next week’s budget.

Earlier this month, the leaders of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the United Nurses of Alberta, Health Sciences Association.and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Alberta sent a letter to Prentice asking to meet with him.

The leaders are seeking clarification on some of the premier’s recent remarks, including his contention that public sector salary increases will cost $2.6 billion over the next three years.

Prentice declined to say what he is planning to tell the union leaders, only that he is looking forward to a “very constructive discussion.”

“I will make my points to them tomorrow. It will be a respectful discussion and there’s important work to be discussed,” he said.

Prentice has said he plans to honour existing contracts. He has signalled that the government will negotiate future contracts with belt-tightening in mind.

The provincial budget will be released on March 26. The government is expected to tackle a $7-billion revenue drop with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.



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