Time for comprehensive compensation review at B.C. Crown corps

(Victoria, 1 October 2013) – IntegrityBC is calling on the B.C. government to undertake a thorough and comprehensive review of the province’s Crown corporations’ executive compensation policies following repeated reports of excessive pay and bonuses at a number of the corporations.

“One-off ministerial edicts to the boards after another media exposé on compensation no longer cut it,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “It’s time for the government to rein in the culture of salary envy that seems to exist at many of the corporations.”

By the organization’s own count, at least 360 senior managers at the province’s Crown corporations earn enough to place them in the top one per cent of all income earners in Canada, with some earning more than Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

A recent analysis by The Province’s Michael Smyth revealed that 2,667 Hydro employees – or 45 per cent of the utility’s workforce – made more than $100,000 last year; 610 of them made more than $150,000. And according to ICBC, 613 of its employees earned more than $100,000 in 2012.

The organization’s call for a compensation review is not just about getting costs under control, but also ensuring that there is a public buy-in to compensation policies.

The provincial government has justified exorbitant pay packages in the past through comparisons with salaries in the private sector, but the proper comparison is with comparable positions in the public sector across Canada and the U.S. “It’s not about what Howe St. pays, but what Main St. can afford,” said Travis.

The organization noted that tools already exist to ensure that Crown corporations are paying fair and comparable wages to their counterparts in other jurisdictions, including industry sector comparisons, Mercer’s annual Cost of Living Survey, provincial and state salary disclosure, CMHC housing cost analyses and Statistics Canada’s National Household Survey.

British Columbians need to have faith that the province’s Crown corporations are not paying the highest salary or the lowest salary, but the right salary to its executives. And when there’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to the existing compensation policies, it’s not surprising if the public doesn’t have that faith today.

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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director