Whenever the Alberta NDP are challenged to cut back on government expenses, their standard reply is that it would entail cutting back on front line workers (i.e.) school teachers or hospital nurses and their support staff.
They know that if they were to cut back the numbers on the front line government employees, there would be a huge public outcry, and of course there would be, but they refuse to talk about the government bureaucrats.
These are the people that are the movers and shakers that make government work. These people are very powerful and control much of what government does.
In my opinion, this is the arm of government that is the cause of the huge deficits that the Alberta government has experienced in the last seven or eight years.
According to the Taxpayers Federation and The Frasier Institute, the cost of government service in Alberta is well over $200 per capita, higher than it is in the next highest province – that being BC.
The Progressive Conservatives in the last years of the Klein government allowed the bureaucracy to start dictating their own compensation and the size of their work force.
As well, senior bureaucrats always seem to advocate for centralization of government programs. This enhances their ability to control how programs are delivered.
It also allows them to increase the work force as they see fit.
For centralization to work, the bureaucracy has to build pyramids in order to manage and deliver the program. The Alberta health system is the best example. We end up with managers managing managers managing managers.
This system is very inefficient in delivering the required service. What the bureaucrats like about this system is that it justifies paying the person at the top a huge salary and the managers below them similar but somewhat lower salaries.
The real down side of the pyramid structure is that the front line worker is so far from the manager, that neither has a clue what the other does.
Some years ago after the health system was centralized into one region, a nurse was asked how a decision was made now for some issue or other. She said, before with the old hospital board, the request had to go through two people to get an answer. Now it has to go through eight layers.
There is no wonder that the cost of health care in Alberta has risen astronomically.
Depending on the size, I think every department has a similar structure.
There is no real incentive for governments to keep their work force at a minimum. In fact, I believe the NDP government has added thousands of additional bureaucrats to their work force to implement and administer their new tax and social programs such as the Climate Change Program.
Government employees in Alberta are paid about 10 per cent higher wages than workers with similar jobs in the private and corporate sectors.
In addition, they receive benefits and pensions that are far more lucrative than what workers receive in the private sector.
In fact, many people receive no pension and only minimum benefits.
In order for Alberta to get back to a balanced budget, government employee wages will have to be reduced to match wages in other sectors and the size of the government work force needs to be substantially reduced.
It is obvious that the cost of government in this province is extravagant.
Our NDP government does not care. They are quit content to pass these costs on to future generations.
We desperately need a change of government before Alberta becomes insolvent.
It will be a huge challenge for another government to bring the cost of government into line with government revenue. You can be sure that the unions and the bureaucracy will pull out all the stops to prevent change.
Alberta has a two tier wage system that we can no longer afford.
by Herman Schwenk