Unions balk at Wall’s talk of 4,900 health care job cuts

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The province’s public sector unions are in an uproar over comments made my Premier Brad Wall that seem to indicate his government is considering cutting thousands of jobs in health care, and possibly education.

Wall made the comments during his speech at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) annual meeting in Saskatoon Monday.

According to multiple media reports, the premier said the government spends about $ 7 billion annually on salaries and benefits for workers.

The province “will have no success in bringing order to our finances if we cannot contain our payroll costs,” Wall was reported as saying.

He said the minimum expectation is to freeze the total human resources cost of government for this year, and possibly years down the road.

He also said a scenario under consideration this year includes tax increases, cuts of 4,900 jobs in health care, layoffs in education and reduced support for vulnerable people, the Canadian Press reported.

Wall’s government is battling a projected deficit that has ballooned to $1.2 billion in the face of falling oil and potash prices.

In addition, tax revenues are lower than expected and crop insurance claims are up $250 million.

Public sector unions balked at the prospect of losing 4,900 health care jobs.

Both the Service Employees’ International Union West (SEIU) and the Saskatchewan Government Employee’s Union (SGEU) released statements condemning the plan.