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CHARLOTTETOWN The Canadian Union of Public Employees Prince Edward Island (CUPE PEI) is appalled that the Finance Minister is considering wage freezes for public sector jobs as a way to mop up its projected deficit.

CUPE PEI President Donalda MacDonald said that before passing the buck on to the backs of those who deliver public services in this province, the minister should take a hard look at the money this government spends on contracting out services.

For example, the provincial government spends $6.6 million every year in rent money. It’s difficult to understand why this provincial government leases so many buildings and equipment. Also of concern to CUPE is the amount of money spent on Professional and Contract Services. In 2003 alone, the Binns’ government spent $104 million in this area. It’s long past time that this government reviewed this situation. We are convinced that public employees could do this work much more efficiently and economically than outside contractors, said MacDonald.

Provincial Treasurer, Mitch Murphy, said the PEI deficit could be as high as $107 million next year and he warned Islanders that tough measures will be taken in next month’s budget including tax increases, job cuts and lost services.

Also being considered is a new way of squeezing more money from Islanders by implementing a health care premium. Murphy announced they are looking at what other provinces have done in terms of health care premiums, which could mean an added burden of between $400 and $800 for Island families.

Islanders would benefit more if this government looked at closing the tax loopholes that profit many corporations and businesses on the Island.

Ms. MacDonald is also requesting an emergency meeting with the province’s public sector union leaders to discuss an action plan in the event the Binns’ government decides to take the cut and slash road.

CUPE will not tolerate any attack on our members in this province and we will work with all public sector unions to explore options in order to protect the rights and jobs of public sector workers on PEI, concluded MacDonald.

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For more information:
Donalda Macdonald, CUPE PEI President
(902) 838-0835, (902) 969-9074, (902) 583-2148