Cold consolation?

Chances are, most provincial civil servants aren't too enthusiastic about the Campbell administration's decision to dramatically increase the maximum payable salaries for deputy ministers. After all, according to the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union, "with the increase, a deputy minister makes more than six times as much as the average government employee." But, in a briefing note posted on the public service intranet, the administration offered this explanation to bureaucrats wondering why they aren't getting similar salary increases: "Well, non-executive pay levels are linked to the collective agreement and the current agreement is in place until 2010. Executive compensation is determined by cabinet, so it's a different process."

"Naturally, we'd all like some more money. Who wouldn't? But when you look at the market competitiveness of what we offer vs. other public service employers, as a general rule there is nothing like the disparity there was in executive pay. There are a couple of areas where there is a gap, like sheriffs and corrections staff, although they are not out of step to the same degree as executive levels. But in most cases the BC Public Service offers pay levels competitive with other public services. That doesn't mean we will always be competitive with the private sector as well, although in many cases we do well on that scale too." The following is a complete copy of that note.

***

Briefing Note
Some Things to Know About Executive Pay
Straight Talk on Life in the Public Service

Last week it was announced that cabinet approved some changes to the compensation framework for public service executives. In plain language, that means that deputy and assistant deputy ministers potential maximum pay went up. As these things often do, the decision set off a fair bit of media coverage. Some of what was reported was a little inaccurate, so we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify a few points.

Yes, we are talking about some substantial increases. But the key thing is that these are increases to the maximum potential salary for DM and ADM positions - not to what DMs and ADMs are getting paid right now. Raising the upper threshold doesn't mean they all get an instant raise of any magnitude and it certainly doesn't mean they are all getting that maximum.

In fact, very few DMs and ADMs were earning the maximum at the old levels. And none of them have actually received any increase yet - including Jessica McDonald, deputy minister to the Premier. The salary of each DM and ADM is now going to be reviewed based on their individual roles, responsibilities and performance. So individual increases will range and won't necessarily be in the same magnitude as the increase to the maximums.

Why such large bumps to the executive maximums? Well, it's really about staying competitive with what is offered by other public service employers in Canada and other public sector employers in B.C. Before this change, we ranked 10th for ADM salaries and 6th for DM salaries among the provinces and the federal government. With these changes, we will rank third in both categories. And even with these changes, you'll still find most DMs below the top 50 on a list of the highest paid public sector execs in B.C. The goal isn't to have the highest paid by any means, but rather to make sure salaries are competitive enough to recruit and retain the people we have and need to lead the public service.

And what about the rest of us? Well, non-executive pay levels are linked to the collective agreement and the current agreement is in place until 2010. Executive compensation is determined by cabinet, so it's a different process. Naturally, we'd all like some more money. Who wouldn't? But when you look at the market competitiveness of what we offer vs. other public service employers, as a general rule there is nothing like the disparity there was in executive pay. There are a couple of areas where there is a gap, like sheriffs and corrections staff, although they are not out of step to the same degree as executive levels. But in most cases the BC Public Service offers pay levels competitive with other public services. That doesn't mean we will always be competitive with the private sector as well, although in many cases we do well on that scale too.

You're entitled to your own opinion on this whole issue, of course, and you're welcome to share your thoughts through the comments section. But we thought we'd try to ensure some of the key facts and background were clear. Truth is, this reflects some of the challenges we face as we continue forging ahead with the Corporate HR Plan and try to make the BC Public Service more competitive. That work isn't always going to mean doing everything for everyone. It often will mean doing what's needed in key areas to remain competitive. Sometimes those actions will apply to executives, sometimes to managers, sometimes to frontline staff, sometimes to everyone. Those actions aren't always easy or popular, but when they need to be taken they should be taken if that's what is required to build the future workforce we're going to need to do the work that's expected of us all.

1 Comment

That was a very shallow, simplistic and patronizing response from the BC Public Service to its unionized staff.

Silly unionized people, tricks are for ADM's! You and your limp wristed union agreed to teeney tiny increases until 2010. That'll teach you! (/end sarcasm)

I could pick apart that facile release point by point, but why bother anymore?

I hope the employees reading that news release on the employee intranet do NOT reply to the comments section (helloo ip address!), but instead go home to email or write to their MLA, Jess and Gord directly.

The NDP website now has a petition online for what it's worth.

http://www.rollbacktheraise.bcndp.ca/

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