The four Atlantic provinces are in talks to standardize public sector wages across the region, according to the New Brunswick Liberal government.

The goal would be to set a blanket common wage for workers in the same profession across the provinces – a move in efforts to curb an already escalating wage bill by ultimately blocking a bargaining chip that sees unions point to higher wages in other provinces to call for a raise.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has stated that if governments aligned the public sector employment rates in Atlantic Canada with the national average relative to population they would reduce the regional public sector wage bill by $1.9 billion.

Statistic Canada’s most recent figures show that in 2013 while the civilian public sector accounted for 18 per cent of all jobs nationally, by comparison the figure was 23 per cent in Atlantic Canada, with all Atlantic provinces exceeding the national average on this metric.

In Prince Edward Island, for example, the figure is 23 per cent, in Nova Scotia it is 22 per cent and in New Brunswick it is 20 per cent. In Newfoundland and Labrador, 28 per cent of all jobs are found in the civilian public sector, the highest level in the country.

*This article appeared in the Telegraph Journal, the Times and Transcript, and the Daily Gleaner