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December 6, 2019 December 6, 2019

Public sector pay is getting out of whack

Posted on August 6, 2019 by Sunny South News

The longer people are unemployed, or working way below their level of expertise and pay scale, the stronger the discontent with those immune to the state of the economy.

Calgary has been grappling with its budget but in spite of editorials giving examples of the wages for routine jobs, $10,000 goodbye gifts for employees leaving, and layers of luxurious pensions, little has changed in those areas.

It seems as though Calgarians are hearing the typical threats — you want lower property taxes and we will have to cut services rather than reducing salaries across the board and benefits.

Someone who worked for the federal government in the Medicine Hat area left after a little more than two years with a pension of $25,000. There is something wrong with that.

That is the sort of pension many people in the private sector spend a working life-time trying to attain.

The “average” wage of someone working for Alberta Health Services (AHS) is $32.05 an hour but that does not come close to the total cost of benefits they receive as well.

AHS employees earning more than $125,000 a year are listed alphabetically on a website. Sean Chilton who used to be the person in charge for this zone, and was based in Lethbridge, is now a vice president based in Edmonton. In 2018 his salary was $334,211.67 plus “other” $50,872.44 for a total of $385,084.17 not to mention benefits and pension. He was replaced in Lethbridge by Katherine Chubbs as chief zone officer. Her salary last year was $310,018.17 plus “other” $43,760.60 for a total of $353,778.77.

Gone are the days when a safe government job meant taking less pay because of the generous benefits and pension scheme. The luxurious benefits are still there and now the pay is out of all proportion to the private sector too.

Thursday the provincial government announced a review of the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act. The Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship will accept input only in writing.

Those who make submissions are warned their names could be made public. It may not have meant this way but is sounded like a bit of threat to deter people from making the effort to ask for change.

We are creating a society where the only people earning very well during their working years and afterwards in retirement are those working for government at any level.

Those working in the private sector are struggling to make ends meet, to pay the taxes to sustain all the government employees, and will then retire with or without a pension.

There appears to be a complete disconnect and the people making the decisions on any of this are of course those benefiting from the system so they are unlikely to make any significant change.

This editorial originated in the Medicine Hat News.

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