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Despite massive private sector pain it has been decades since governments cut employee pay

  • report examines when the last time was the federal government, provincial governments and 13 major cities cut employee pay

Start-up Canadian think tank released today a policy brief that examines when the last time was that governments across Canada cut salaries and wages for their employees. The report includes information on the federal government, all 10 provinces and 13 major cities.

The think tank decided to examine this issue after massive private sector pay and job cuts in the wake of COVID-19 – Cineplex, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Winnipeg Free Press and several CFL teams to name a few.

“While we often hear of businesses having to cut employee pay, that’s a given during economic cycles. But those cycles seem to not affect government employees,” said President Colin Craig. “Generally speaking, government employees have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than receiving a pay cut. Politicians are just not hard people to bargain with.”

Highlights from our research, include:

  • The federal government indicated they have “no data or any information” that indicates there has ever been a negotiated pay reduction with its unions;
  • Quebec’s last pay reduction was temporary and occurred in 1982, while the last broad pay reductions in Prince Edward Island and Alberta were implemented in 1994. New Brunswick provided data showing there have been no pay reductions dating back to the 1970s. Many other provinces indicated they have no information on pay reductions; and
  • At the municipal level, Mississauga and Moncton indicated they have never reduced employee pay. Despite its ongoing economic woes, the City of Calgary provided data that shows no pay reductions between 1974-2020. Many other cities indicated it has been decades since their last pay cut or they simply had no records available.

“Reducing government employee pay, even by just a bit, could help governments avoid raising taxes on struggling families and businesses. The message that could send now is critical, as the private sector reels from COVID impacts,” added Craig. “Pay reductions could also help governments limit skyrocketing deficits without having to cut services. This approach is a far less drastic option for policy makers than layoffs.”

To see’s new policy brief – click here.

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Federal government

Treasury Board – click here

Provincial governments:

British Columbia – click here
Alberta – click here
Saskatchewan – click here
Manitoba – click here
Ontario – click here
Quebec – click here
New Brunswick – click here
Nova Scotia – click here
Prince Edward Island – click here
Newfoundland and Labrador – click here


Vancouver – click here
Edmonton – click here
Calgary – click here
Regina – click here
Saskatoon – click here
Winnipeg – click here
Mississauga – click here
Toronto – click here
Ottawa – click here
Montreal – click here
St. John’s – click here
Moncton – click here
Halifax – click here

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