Spending control

Lately, the Government of Alberta has received a lot of attention for releasing a list of employees and their earnings

Lately, the Government of Alberta has received a lot of attention for releasing a list of employees and their earnings, known as a ‘sunshine list.’

First of all, kudos to Alison Redford and the province for releasing this list. But some are criticizing Redford for compromising the privacy of the individuals named on the list and ‘humiliating’ them by making their earnings public.

But, the important thing is not the names on the list, but the dollar amounts attached to them. We deserve to see that dollar amount.

Strictly speaking, the Government of Alberta works for us, the taxpayers – Albertans. Therefore the government’s employees work for us too. Doesn’t that entitle us to know how they are being paid?

And therein lies the problem. Alberta’s sunshine list has revealed Government of Alberta employees are paid much higher salaries than their counterparts in other provinces and even then their counterparts in the government of some other countries.

Looking at the government of British Columbia’s sunshine list, one will discover that its highest paid employee earned $307,730 in the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

That’s $39,033 less than the province’s highest paid employee who earned $346,763 last year.

Last week, the opposition released an infographic depicting Redford’s chief of staff earns $316,300 per year while President Barack Obama’s chief of staff earns $172,200. In fact, if you look at the Obama administration’s sunshine list type document, you will discover the highest paid employee on the report earns $225,000, and is the only employee to earn over $172,200.

Redford has defended these salaries saying she is happy that these individuals have chosen to work in the public sector as the government needs skilled employees. Yes Premier Redford, so are we. Our problem is not that they are working for the government, our problem is how much they are being paid. Redford has also stated it is necessary to fairly compensate these skilled employees that the government has need of.

Premier Redford, we agree with you. However, when you are paying your employees significantly higher salaries than those in other provinces while you are being criticized for ludicrously high travel expenses and running a deficit budget, it’s not unreasonable to say that those wages go above and beyond ‘fair’.