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Salary freeze announced at Alberta's agencies, boards and commissions

The Alberta government has announced a two-year freeze on the salaries of managers and non-union staff at the province's agencies, boards and commissions.

Freeze takes effect April 1 at 158 of province's ABCs

Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced a review into agencies, boards and commissions last fall. The result of the first part of the review is expected next month. (CBC )

The Alberta government has announced a two-year freeze on the salaries of managers and non-union staff at 158 of the province's agencies, boards and commissions.

The freeze, which takes effect April 1, covers ABCs like Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Leah Holoiday, press secretary for Finance Minister Joe Ceci, said the government is recommending the boards governing ABCs approve the salary freeze. If they don't, the government will impose it on them. 

She said the government doesn't know how many people the freeze affects or how much money it will save. The ABCs have operated without oversight for so long, there are no updated numbers available, she said.

That's why the review of ABCs is so important, Holoiday said. 

Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt said he's glad the government is trying to cut costs, but he adds this is just a small first step.  He wants a freeze on the salaries of every government employee in light of the province's fiscal crisis to prevent cuts to services. 

"Most of ABCs actually have a relatively small number of employees. This is a positive step in the right direction but we should be very cognizant that this is a small step," he said.

"At the end of the day, I don't expect this to save a lot of money, but I hope that this is setting the tone for a change in direction from the government."

The government wants to eliminate and consolidate the province's 301 ABCs. The result of the first part of the review will be released next month. 

The government plans to introduce legislation this fall to deal with salaries at the organizations.

In January, the government froze the salaries of managers and non-unionized employees in the public service for two years. The move was expected to affect 7,000 people and save $28.5 million.

The government also froze the salaries of cabinet ministers, MLAs and political staff last fall. 

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