University of Calgary

University of Calgary

January 19, 2012 11:31 ET

University of Calgary: Public sector wages sapping Alberta's revenues

Study finds provincial government spends far more on employees than rest of Canada

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Jan. 19, 2012) - In a paper released today by The School of Public Policy, authors Ken Boessenkool and Ben Eisen compare public sector wages across Canada and find a major gap between Alberta and other provinces.

"Overall, the public sector wage bill in Alberta has increased 119 percent in the decade following the turn of the century, compared to 63 percent in the rest of Canada," the authors write.

The analysis compares salary or wage data released by Statistics Canada for four employee categories: provincial general government, health and social institutions, universities and colleges, and local school boards.

In each of the categories studied Alberta's spending was among the highest in Canada. Spending on wages and salaries per-employee in the provincial general government category was 35 percent higher than the rest of Canada; health and social services wages were 60 percent higher; local school board wages were 10 percent higher; and higher education wages were 30 percent higher.

These disparities are of added concern to Alberta given its current fiscal deficit. The authors indicate that "95 percent of the increase in provincial revenues over the last decade has gone directly into the pockets of public sector employees."

"If the Alberta government is looking for ways of reducing spending to eliminate its deficit (or if they are looking to understand why Alberta is spending significantly more per person on government services than other provinces), they could do much worse than setting an objective of bringing their wages in line with those in other Canadian provinces," the authors argue.

The study can be found online by going to www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications.

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