Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Royalties Pay For Jobs

All those threats about job losses in the oil patch and the bosses protest at the Leg seems to have overlooked a little fact. Job losses in the public sector in particular our hospital sector were caused by the Klein government bailing out Big Oil in the nineties.

As this letter writer to the Calgary Sun pointed out.


There seems to be a double standard in both media and government attitude regarding regular public service workers and the oil industry. In the '90s, during the Klein "devolution," health-care professionals, teachers, public service workers and their collective bargaining agents protested cutbacks to health-care, education and other public services. They warned of gross shortages and infrastructure deficits in the future (which all came true). They were written off as "special interest groups" by media and government. Now an independent panel indicates the oil and gas industry has not been paying its fair share and the industry gets closed-door meetings with the government and is regarded as a VIP by the media. They come out with a government decision that still has them paying less than their fair share. They still grumble and yet neither the media nor government disregard their threats and grumbling as "just another special interest group."

Larry Connell, RN

The attack on the public sector was the result of low royalties and tax breaks for Big Oil. The neo-con advisers to the Klein government called for cuts to public sector spending, freezes on wages and contracting out to make up for the deficit created by this give away. The deficit was caused by the failure of the government to collect its fair share, even back then, as the auditor general pointed out, of the royalties, even as low as they were; a penny on the dollar.

The cuts to the public sector were ideologically driven, at the time the Klein and Harris governments, indeed in 1995 so did the Federal Liberals, embraced the idea that the private sector can deliver services cheaper and more efficiently then unionized public sector workers.

Well cheaper yes by driving down wages and benefits. Efficiently well no, because they low balled their bids and now the costs are rising. Unionized public sector workers may cost more in wages and benefits, the workers in the private sector, but their costs are controlled by collective bargaining. And the government has controlled public sector wages in Alberta to be below inflation for the past decade. Whereas private sector costs are now skyrocketing.

Today infrastructure costs are higher because the Tired Old Tory government spent the last decade acting like Scrooge when it came to infrastructure expenditures. Instead of spending the annual surpluses they did get, which occurred annually since the pseudo-crisis of 1993, they hoarded the money crying poverty. Now the chickens have come home to roost.

Ralph cut nurses and doctors as well as capping nursing programs in Alberta universities.
The cuts over a decade created a crisis we now face in staffing. especially in the hospital sector. The result has been a decline in health care services, with deadly results.

As we have seen investment in public sector jobs have been a boon to the Canadian economy. Costs of having services delivered in house are much lower than contracting out in an overheated economy. So much for the supply side economics of the Fraser Institute and it's pals.

So the next time some oil supply company workers complain that they may lose their jobs tell them to talk to the nurses in this province who left during the nineties to find work elsewhere.

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