Liberals urge public sector wage restraint
'We in the health department really have to change the negotiating dynamic,' says health minister
Some members of Nova Scotia’s Liberal government are suggesting recent public sector wage increases are not affordable.
Under the previous NDP government, employees won a 7.5 per cent increase over three years. Those deals expire next spring.
"We in the health department really have to change the negotiating dynamic," says Health Minister Leo Glavine.
He says the province can't afford long, drawn out talks and overly generous payouts. He says that’s why he likes what he sees on the west coast.
British Columbia’s public sector workers are agreeing to five-year contracts with modest 5.5 per cent raises.
"We know that in Nova Scotia, as we currently have a lower performing economy, we have to make wage settlements on that kind of thinking and basis," says Glavine.
His cabinet colleague the minister of finance won't talk about wage offers, but Diana Whalen says she would like to see five-year deals.
"I would love to see longer-term contracts. It would provide much better financial, just a financial stability going forward," she says.
Whalen says past agreements have been hard on the province's books and have made it difficult to balance budgets.
"We're in tough times and that’s the message I want everybody to understand. Taxpayers are paying as much as they can, we don’t have enough money to balance our books, so we’re going to have to work together to come up with some fair and reasonable settlements that are going to sustainable," she says.
"Really, the amount we had in the past has put a tremendous burden on the province, I’ll tell you that."
The Liberals have promised to balance Nova Scotia's books as soon as possible.