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The Size and Cost of the Public Sector in Western Canada
This study examines the provincial and municipal public sectors in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in the year 2015. The authors draw data from Statistics Canada and examine the share of the overall workforce in the public sector, the number of public sector employees per 1,000 residents, and the share of the total compensation awarded to public sector workers.
Public sector employment is a major cost for all levels of government. This study shows that the number of municipal and provincial public sector workers is much higher in Manitoba and Saskatchewan than in Alberta and British Columbia. In fact, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have 111 public sector employees per 1,000 residents, while Alberta has 79 and British Columbia has 76.
The paper also finds that the size of public sectors in Manitoba and Saskatchewan has grown at roughly twice the pace of the public sector in Alberta since 1997 — the first year for which these Statistics Canada data are available. On a per-capita basis, Manitoba’s and Saskatchewan’s public sectors have grown 17 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, while Alberta’s and B.C.’s have grown eight per cent and seven per cent. Canada-wide, per capita sub-national public employment has grown 10 per cent.