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Premier Stephen McNeil of N.S. hints at wage restraint among public-sector workers to tackle deficit.

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on July 31, 2020 with No Comments

Stephen McNeil says the work will begin this year and unions must help

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says his government will waste no time trying to address the province’s massive deficit, and he expects public sector unions to be part of the process.

On Thursday, the premier told reporters that effort would begin this year by looking at steps that could generate economic activity while also looking at possible savings.

“We’re going to continue to work at ensuring that we, again, are delivering programs that we’ve committed to, but at the same time trying to control those costs of government,” he said

One of the biggest costs to running government is people, and with contract negotiations ongoing or looming for several public sector unions, the premier warned that they would be expected to play a role in reducing the deficit.

“It can’t just be the private sector who will be the ones to put us back in a good fiscal position,” he said.

“People need to understand that for four months there were many people in this province who lost their entire paycheque while others were continuing to be paid, and I think we need to be mindful of that.”

On Wednesday, Casey said the government was not considering layoffs as part of efforts to deal with the deficit. But on Thursday, McNeil suggested unions would play a role in deciding the approach to be used.

“If the issue becomes that labour wants to continue to fight for more and more that the province does not have the ability to pay, then obviously that would mean there would have to be fewer people,” he said.

“They’re going to have to make that decision and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”

The premier said his government has “demonstrated over the last number of years that we’ve been fair when it comes to the collective agreement process.” Several unions are now suing McNeil’s government on account of contracts imposed on them in recent years.

 

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