Yesterday, your humble organ - and the length and breadth of the province's broadcasters - reported on the British Columbia MLA pay raise. Also included in that $3.79 million package was a $35,000 or 41 percent increase in funding for constituency offices, boosting their total budget to $119,000. And what was the reason for that increase? Well, in a news release, Opposition House Leader Mike Farnworth is quoted as saying, "This package also means that MLAs are better able to proide the best service possible to citizens, ensuring that offices are open and accessible in communities and that concerns are responded to in a timely way." Not mentioned, though, is the fact the collective agreement covering New Democrat constituency assistants expired three days ago. And said assistants (who presently make between $34,548 and $39,317 annually) are demanding (perhaps justifiably) a pay increase from caucus. So does that demand have anything to do with the constituency office budget boost? Said Mr. Farnworth in a scrum, "That is completely separate from this particular package."
November 18, 2005