The province will be cutting from the top as it looks to trim its deficit.
Premier Brad Wall has asked all ministers, MLAs and political staff to take a 3.5 per cent wage rollback effective April 1.
Staff in the premier’s and ministers’ offices will also be required to take nine unpaid days off a year – effectively reducing their pay by about 3.5 per cent as well.
The reduction is pending approval from the Board of Internal Economy.
Wall told reporters at the legislature Tuesday he’s already committed to slashing his own salary.
“I am not prepared to ask anyone to do something that I, we, are not prepared to do ourselves,” Wall said.
The cut to the premier’s pay would be in addition to his decision to forego a $37,000 salary top-up from the Sask. Party.
The reduction for MLAs and political staff is expected to save about $500,000 a year.
‘Not negotiating the target’
When the same 3.5 per cent reduction is applied across the public sector to all government workers, the savings grow to $250 million each year.
Wall confirms the cut will be applied to all workers currently in negotiations or with contracts about to expire. Existing contracts will not be impacted.
“We are not negotiating the target. We’ve set it, we want to achieve 3.5 per cent worth of savings, and now we want to allow the collective bargaining process to work its way through to achieving that target,” Wall said.
“It doesn’t have to come off compensation, it could come from benefits, it could from other means.”
There has already been backlash following news public sector workers may be asked to take unpaid days off to help plug the projected $1.2-billion deficit.
“There are many different ways to achieve these kinds of savings across government,” Wall said in a related news release Tuesday.
“We are not prescribing any specific measures. Instead, our government is setting a savings target as the funder of public sector compensation and we are hopeful that the various employers and their respective bargaining units will work together and achieve these savings through negotiation.”
But such talk is an outrage to the opposition NDP.
Interim leader Trent Wotherspoon calls this an “attack on workers”, and argued government should take more of a hit to its bonuses.
“We expect, on the additional allowance that cabinet receives, at least a 20 per cent reduction on those allowances,” Wotherspoon said. “This is attacking those who are delivering services that we count on.”
There are currently 40 collective agreements between government and public sector units.
As of February this year, 18 are open and a further seven will expire within 90 days.
– With files from 980 CJME’s Sarah Mills.