Christy Clark ups pay limits for loyal Liberal appointees
B.C. Premier Christy Clark campaigned on fiscal prudence and financial accountability, but one of her first moves in government was to quietly raise pay limits for loyal Liberal appointees.
Documents released by the opposition New Democrats Tuesday show Clark and her cabinet increased the maximum salaries for the press secretary, ministerial assistants, media monitoring manager, the Premier’s chief of staff and others on June 3.
The top potential salary for Clark’s chief of staff spiked from $195,148 to $230,000, while maximum pay for ministerial assistants increased from $94,500 to $105,000 per year.
NDP house leader John Horgan said the move is a clear indication that Clark’s pre-election rallying cry for government restraint was hollow.
“Their priority is not the people of British Columbia, it’s their political pals. And to give massive increases to political insiders is just plain wrong,” Horgan said. “They had the opportunity to do the right thing and they blew it.”
On top of the potential pay bumps, ministerial assistants are getting a new title: chief of staff of the minister’s office.
CTV News spoke with Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who insisted B.C.’s overall budget for staff salaries remains unchanged.
“It’s being reallocated and there’s some different positions, a small number of different positions with different duties, but the overall objective that was achieved is that the budget for staff remains the same,” de Jong said.
“I think the public understands the need to pay people appropriately and competitively,” he added.
Clark’s deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario stands the benefit the most, as her position was regrouped into the same salary grid as chief of staff Dan Doyle, increasing her maximum pay from $144,000 to $230,000.
Cadario, who served as the Liberals’ deputy campaign manager for the May election, is expected to receive a pay bump of $50,000. Doyle is believed to be passing on a raise.
The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation noted that U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief of staff earns just $172,000 per year.
“This is a bad tone to start government with,” said the Federation’s B.C. director Jordan Bateman. “For all our talk about debt-free B.C. and balanced budgets, the debt in British Columbia is growing by a billion dollars every quarter.”
The NDP says it’s also disappointing to see the potential pay increases as the province prepares to undergo a review of public services that could result in cuts to health care, education and support for children and seniors.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Rob Brown