Mr. Premier, every time I even remotely consider terminating this one-sided dialogue with your honourable self, you serve me up a platter of new and deeply disconcerting decisions that pull me back into the process and leave me aghast with your apparent capacity to be out of touch with the world the rest of us appear to inhabit!
So in one of the last “Dear Gord” columns, I recommended that your honourable self seriously consider raising the minimum wage from $8.00 to $10.00. (I won’t even mention the $6.00 “training wage” that your government imposed on all those who are supposedly training for the first 300 hours of their employment. I would mention it if it applied to newly elected politicians but apparently, it doesn’t – so I won’t mention it.)
Apparently raising the minimum wage to the unheard of rate of $10.00 per hour doesn’t appear to be in the deck of cards you’re interested in dealing out to your subjects. But if it was, it would at least bring the gross (both meanings) salary of a single parent working 40 hours per week to $20,800 - within shouting distance of the poverty line as established by the government of Canada. That move from $8.00 to $10.00 would actually involve a 25% pay increase! Now I have to wonder, is that where your commission of three people might have come up with the 29% increase in salaries for regular MLA’s? (25% is close to 29%). But, then I need to ask, where did they come up with the 53% increase for your honourable self?
On May 2, 2007, when you were interviewed and the question was posed regarding the justification for such significant increases in salaries for those in public service, you were quoted as follows: “Remuneration has to reflect the respect we have for public life.” (Hmm, this one is just too easy!) Well Gord, if that’s the case, I’m thinking once again you’re a tad out of touch with the people of your fiefdom.
Now don’t get me wrong. Having sampled a bit of public life myself, I am aware of the constant demands on one’s time. You however, consistently refer to this choice of vocations as a “sacrifice” as opposed to a choice. Truth is, being an MLA is a job. It’s a job with some significant perks and lots of challenges. It is not a sacrifice, although if you really want to continue down this road of thought, you might want to seriously consider the words of George Bernard Shaw who said: “Self sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.”
So having agreed that being an MLA is a job rather than a sacrifice, then we are free to consider an appropriate scale of remuneration and how to arrive at that figure. With the panel your government appointed being composed of a lawyer, a retired judge and a professor at UBC, I suggest that the outcome was basically predetermined. I suspect that if the three person independent commission had been composed of a private business person, a recipient of mother’s allowance or disability payments and a farmer, the outcome might have been a bit different. Perhaps a citizens’ panel composed of a good cross-section of people who live and work in BC might have been a better idea – after all, we all contribute to your salaries.
If the salaries of people in public life in other provinces are considered, then I suspect most informed people would at least consider that a reasonable salary increase and pension plan could be justified. I understand that BC is in the middle of the pack when it comes to salaries for MLA’s. However, your government’s attempt to ram through a 29% pay increase for MLA’s and Ministers, and a 53% pay increase for your honourable self is so far away from being aware of the realities faced by most people in this province that it simply reveals once again how out of touch your government has become.
I’ll give you a suggestion. If you dump the third world $6.00 per hour training wage and raise the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour, then that would give the lowest paid people in this province a 25% pay increase. Maybe then, you could all vote yourselves an equivalent 25% pay increase over the next 3-5 years and make us all feel like we’re in this together! The only problem with this though, is that leaves your 53% raise of $65,000 from your current salary of $121,100 to $186,200 with no real basis in reality. But maybe, if you got 25% over 3-5 years like the rest, well that would mean – let me see….umm…$121,100 divided by the minimum wage amount of $8.00 raised to $10.00 divided by the difference between the training wage and the poverty line, multiplied by an average of 3 years with a 2.1% cost of living factored in and the pension payments as opposed to the current RRSP contributions…and then considering the extra funds available for your expenses…
You know Gord, you probably wouldn’t want me on a citizen’s panel to consider appropriate salaries. I was never great at math!
I look forward to our ongoing chats.
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