03/10/2016 11:57 EST | Updated 03/11/2017 00:12 EST

Notley defends new union negotiator, says it won't politicize bargaining

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says hiring a high-ranking union negotiator to bargain for the province is going to be the best deal for taxpayers.

Notley says hiring Kevin Davediuk is part of a co-ordinated updated bargaining strategy as it approaches talks with all public sector unions.

Up until earlier this week, Davediuk was a senior negotiator with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, which is Alberta's largest public-sector union.

Davediuk also has a long history bargaining on the employers' side of the table

But opposition parties say the hiring is bad practice and bad optics for a government that will need to bargain hard given that low oil prices are racking up billions of dollars in deficits.

Notley's office did not announce Davediuk's hiring, but Notley says they weren't trying to hide it, they were just very busy with other issues.