Christy Clark has found a convenient distraction in municipal governments.
B.C.’s Wiarton Willie of the recently ended teachers’ strike emerged last week to make headlines with her speech to delegates at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler.
Amid the name dropping and talk of finding solutions and getting “our house in order,” the premier also used her speech as an opportunity to turn the spotlight on municipal government wages.
“Some local governments are paying more than the province for people to do similar jobs. And in those cases, compensation levels are simply too high,” stated Clark, referring to a report commissioned by the B.C. government that also paints Crown corporations as having issues with managing compensation and spending. In response, Clark stated the province is moving towards taxpayer accountability principles.
“I’m not here to point the finger…,” said Clark, who later told Black Press it was her intent to get this issue on the agenda for the November municipal election.
Is it really the premier’s duty to decide what the focus of voters should be in their respective municipal elections?
Doesn’t she have enough work getting her house in order, what with the shaky Petronas situation, pipeline protests by opposing civic leaders, fracking quakes and tailings ponds fallout and, of course, the province’s still sore relationship with teachers? And what about the pay and benefits at Crown corporations?
The province’s report notes the salaries of municipal employees increased by 38 per cent between 2001 and 2012. Interestingly, another report, released by the Columbia Institute entitled “Who’s Picking Up the Tab,” notes local governments have had to make up for about $4 billion in reduced transfer payments from provincial and federal governments, while
“finding themselves picking up the slack on housing, mental health, addiction, social services, wastewater treatment, diking, flood management, drinking water and recreation infrastructure.”
Maybe the local government pay bubble needs to be popped, and/or maybe they’re just doing a heck of a lot more work so their provincial counterparts can do less, and make their leader look fiscally responsible come election time.