Lib­er­als tackle spend­ing

No lay­offs an­nounced in bud­get 2017 but wage freeze pend­ing for man­age­ment, non-union work­ers.

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY JOSH HEALEY

The Gov­ern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador is look­ing to make leg­isla­tive changes to im­ple­ment a wage freeze for man­age­ment and all non-union em­ploy­ees for the fis­cal year.

The gov­ern­ment said that the changes are in recog­ni­tion of the prov­ince’s chal­leng­ing fis­cal sit­u­a­tion, cit­ing the im­por­tance of man­ag­ing the $3.3 bil­lion spent by gov­ern­ment on ben­e­fits and salaries.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Cathy Ben­nett told mem­bers of the me­dia to­day that no lay­offs have been an­nounced in the bud­get, but didn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of some lay­offs in the fu­ture.

“We need to change the con­ver­sa­tion about our prov­ince and about mas­sive lay­offs,” said Ben­nett.

Ben­nett also said that if there is a pos­si­bil­ity to in­crease the ef­fi­ciency of gov­ern­ment pro­grams, the gov­ern­ment would com­mu­ni­cate with their em­ploy­ees to im­prove ser­vices.

“Ef­fi­cien­cies can come in a va­ri­ety of ways,” she said.

Con­cern­ing the unions, Ben­nett said that talks have be­gun.

“I have met with union lead­er­ship and, very frankly, said to them that we want to have a re­spon­si­ble con­ver­sa­tion about the cost of salaries and ben­e­fits to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment,” said Ben­nett.

Asked what she would tell a gov­ern­ment em­ployee, Ben­nett in­vited a di­a­logue with de­part­ments.

“An em­ployee who is in the core pub­lic ser­vice, or any area of gov­ern­ment, should un­der­stand that we’re work­ing on the cul­ture of spend­ing,” said Ben­nett. “If they’ve got ideas or sug­ges­tions, I’d love to hear from them.”

Bud­get 2017 has drawn mixed re­views.

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