Hundreds of Alberta nurses on the sunshine list because premium pay rates too high

Author: Franco Terrazzano 2020/02/19
  • More than 600 nurses on Alberta's sunshine list

CALGARY, ABThe Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the Alberta government to scale back premium pay rates during its on-going labour negotiations with the United Nurses of Alberta.

“Nurses provide an important service for Albertans, but premium pay provisions have gotten out of hand and that’s why more than 600 nurses are on the sunshine list,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF. “Most people rely on their salary for their income, but the highest paid registered nurse in Alberta received more than 60 per cent of their income from inflated premium pay rates and benefits.”

The basic hourly pay rate for a top registered nurse in Alberta is $48.37/hour, which translates to about $92,900 per year and is the highest hourly rate in Canada. But in 2018, 614 UNA nurses were on the Alberta Health Services’ sunshine list, which discloses compensation for government employees who receive more than $129,809 in annual pay.

Alberta government nurses can receive more than their basic hourly rate through premium pay rates for nights and weekend shifts, overtime pay and other benefits. Alberta’s premium-pay rates tend to be higher than those in other provinces, as illustrated in the backgrounder at the end of this CTF release.

In 2018, the highest paid registered nurse received $240,058 in salary, premium pay and benefits, meaning the top hourly rate only accounted for 39 per cent of total compensation; premium pay and benefits accounted for 61 per cent.

“Finance Minister Travis Toews needs to pull Albertans out of the $70- billion debt hole, and reining in the platinum perks is the perfect place to start,” said Terrazzano. “It’s not fair for struggling taxpayers to keep paying for unreasonable benefits on top of already high salaries.”

Freedom of information requests obtained by the CTF show these premiums rates are on top of other unaffordable benefits such as second pensions, over-time pay for employees who haven’t worked full-time hours and bonuses that aren’t related to performance. Alberta’s UNA nurses’ top basic hourly pay rates also tend to be higher than their counterparts in other provinces.


Backgrounder: Premium Pay Rates for Alberta Nurses

Type of Premium Pay

Alberta Nurses

Rest of Canada

Other Comments

Night shift


$2.61/hour (avg.)

Alberta is the highest in Canada

Weekend shift


$2.54/hour (avg.)

Alberta is the highest in Canada.


Alberta nurses receive $8.25/hour extra for working a night shift on a weekend.

Normal overtime

2x pay

Most provinces (including ON & QC) receive 1.5x pay


Holiday overtime

2.5x pay

1.8x pay (avg.)



Super stat overtime

3x pay

No other province has super stat overtime pay

Christmas and August Civic Holiday in Alberta


Superstat overtime pay translates into $145.11/hour for a top registered nurse.


The Canadian Taxpayers Federation obtained this government data through freedom of information requests.

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Franco Terrazzano
Federal Director at
Canadian Taxpayers

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