Le gouvernement de l’Alberta, plutôt que d’imposer une taxe de vente provinciale, pourrait cibler la masse salariale de sa fonction publique pour résorber le déficit de la province.
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This paper examines wage premiums – the difference in this case in wages between public and private sector employees – in administrative and no administrative jobs at different levels of the public sector and various sectors of private industry. The comparisons can then be used to determine how potential savings could be realized through cuts to public sector compensation. The public sector generally pays better than the private sector in Alberta, although the high-paying oil and gas industry in the province means the wage gap is not radically large and is even negative in some cases.
Ideally, a 3.7 per cent decrease across-the-board in total public sector compensation would be possible without jeopardizing the delivery of government services or risking a public service brain drain. The Alberta government would then save $799.2 million, or approximately 9.1 per cent of the projected $8.8 billion deficit. However, the reality clashes with the ideal. A 3.7 per cent cut across-the-board would lead to overpayment of those at the bottom of the pay scale and impose a heavy wage penalty on those employees at the top, who would see their salaries reduced by a proportionately larger amount. This would further encourage the exodus of talented, skilled, well-paid people from the public service and compromise the integrity of services provided to Albertans.
Moreover, the ripple effects of any cuts must be taken into careful consideration. These include political implications, macroeconomic impacts and effects on the private sector labour market. Cuts to the public sector never occur in a vacuum and their effects on the general provincial economy, overall employment picture, tax revenues and economic growth are just some of the metrics which must be factored into any policy decision.