MLA David Hanson responded to the series of rallies by the United Nurses of Alberta, including one in Bonnyville on Thursday.
A small group gathered outside of the Bonnyville Health Centre to protest potential wage cuts, spending cuts, and privatizing elements of Alberta Health Services.
Hanson said the situation is a little disappointing.
“I understand that and I think the NDP and the union leaders are doing a pretty good job of getting the membership stirred up. It’s a little disappointing. I know that we’ve made it very clear that we’re looking at 2.8 per cent savings over a four year period, and everybody’s gonna have to take part,” he said.
“But we have to look under every area to find those savings and we’re hoping that the public sector unions, including the nurses and teachers, will work with us to try and find those savings.”
A review of AHS by Ernst & Young reported that the government could save $1.9 billion with sweeping reforms.
Negotiations are happening now between the province as the contract is set to finish at the end of March and nearly 24,000 public sector employees, including many in health care positions.
The AUPE said the government proposed a 1 per cent decrease for the first year and a freeze for the next three years.
An arbitrator determined that a 1 per cent raise was warranted during wage-reopener discussions.
Hanson said he hopes a strike is avoided.
“They’re really stressing and threatening strike action. And, you know, you go on strike for one month, that’s like an 8.3 per cent cut in your pay for that year. So I don’t understand the logic behind it.
“Like I said, I’m disappointed. We’re all Albertans. We’re all in this together, we got here together, and we need to get out of this together. And we have to work together to get there. And that includes our public sectors.”