Are Public Sector Workers better off in Alberta than in other provinces?


December 19, 2019 :: Dr. Richard Mueller
Moderated by Colleen Quintal

The September 3, 2019 release of the Report and Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances (the MacKinnon report) argues that both the size and compensation of Alberta’s public sector are higher than comparator provinces, and suggests that the government could reduce the size of the public sector (through employee attrition), consider alternative delivery of government programs and services (through the private and non-for-profit sectors), and recommends that the government establishes a legislative mandate that sets the salary levels for all public sector employees.

Those recommendations were largely followed in the provincial budget tabled on Oct 24, but the speaker had argued that in contrast to the MacKinnon report, his research concluded that Alberta does not really stand out in any way relative to the other three large provinces, Ontario, Quebec and BC, both in terms of the size of its public sector and its compensation. If anything, Alberta has tended to have a smaller public sector compared to other jurisdictions using certain measures.

Similarly, the compensation to public employees in Alberta does not stand out in any way, except for the fact that Alberta was and still is a high wage province and public sector wages, at least in part, reflect this. Where Alberta does stand out is that relative to overall earnings within the province, Alberta public sector employees tend to earn relatively less than their counterparts in other jurisdictions, especially when the overall high relative real earnings in the province are considered.

Speaker: Dr. Richard Mueller

Richard Mueller is professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Lethbridge, academic director of the Lethbridge Branch of the Prairie Regional Research Data Centre, and associate director of the Educational Policy Research Initiative at the University of Ottawa.

Dr. Mueller holds a BA (Honors) and an MA from the University of Calgary, and a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He taught at the University of Maine before joining the University of Lethbridge in 2000, and was seconded to Statistics Canada from 2009 through 2011.


Moderator: Collen Quintal

Date: Thursday, December 19, 2019
Time: Doors open 11:30 am, presentation 12 noon, buffet lunch 12:30 pm, Q&A 1 – 1:30 pm
Location: Royal Canadian Legion (please enter at north door) 324 Mayor Magrath Dr. S. Lethbridge
Cost: $14 buffet lunch with dessert/coffee/tea/juice or $2 coffee/tea/juice. RSVP not required


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