icks on Biz: Alberta's new haves and have-nots BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2016
It’s about the “haves” and the “have nots.”
But in Alberta it’s not the rich business types versus exploited workers.
It’s about the fat cats with high-paying, secure, low-risk jobs in the public and quasi-public sector, versus the unemployed/underemployed workers and former executives in the private sector – specifically the oil and gas sector.
Just look at the “Public Sector Body Compensation Disclosure” list just published by the provincial government.
It illustrates the growing chasm between Alberta’s “haves” and “have-nots” by showing the real salaries (including overtime, bonuses etc.) of all those making $125,000 or more in Alberta’s public agencies.
All the names are published. You can check out Uncle Don’s 2015 salary. So that’s how he could afford the $1.1 million Windermere home!
I can’t give you a total figure – you’d have to open each report from the 120-plus Alberta agencies, commissions, institutes and regulatory bodies, and actually count the employees.
But it would be at least 10,000 jobs. For example, about 2,300 Alberta Health Services employees are making over $125,000. Another 1,200 academic and non-academic staff at the University of Alberta are in the same income bracket.
In the middle of a rotten recession where the private sector is reeling, these folks continue to be paid inflated salaries for secure, cushy, 9-5 jobs with full benefits.
I dove into the numbers of The Alberta Energy Regulator, a public body funded by government-imposed compulsory fees on energy companies. It oversees the oil and gas industry.
That industry has shrunk by 35,000 workers since the end of 2014. Those still standing have accepted 10% pay rollbacks.
Alberta Energy Regulator employees are not sharing the pain. It has not announced any layoffs or staff reduction – simply wage freezes.
At the Energy Regulator, 115 employees made $150,000 to $199,999 last year. The employer also contributed to pension plans, EI and WCB. Another 41 employees made $200,000 to $299,000. Four made over $300,000 — about $370,000 each to three executive vice-presidents, $600,000 to the CEO.
These are high-pay, low-risk jobs, working in comfy Calgary office towers with regular office hours.
Once upon a time, government/public sector jobs came within a general social contract. Civil servants were paid 20% less than the private sector, but, in return, had regular hours, career-long security and a decent pension at the end.
Today, through a series of salary advances, semi-government executives are making just as good, if not better, money than their private sector counterparts — with less responsibility, less hours and far better job security.
The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is moving down the food chain.
Nurses and health technicians’ salaries (including overtime) are listed in the Alberta Health Services section of the Public Sector Body Compensation Disclosure list. Go to http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/about/page13093.aspx and check out what your cousin with 15 years of experience as a registered nurse or a medical technician is actually making. Chances are it’ll be in the $130,000 to $150,000 range.
I have no problem with the big money paid to CEOs and senior management in the private sector. They bear huge responsibility. Entrepreneurs who build companies from scratch take enormous risks and deserve to reap the rewards.
But there is no rationale for paying public/quasi-public sector senior managers the same kind of compensation, none whatsoever.
With government revenues tumbling in 2016/17, the New Democrats have yet to roll back these bloated management/senior staff salaries in the quasi-public sector. (Wage freezes don’t count. Once you’re making $200,000 a wage freeze is a mosquito bite.)
There’s precedent. In 2007, the president of Capital Health Authority was over-paid at $880,000. A decade later, the president of the much bigger Alberta Health Services is paid $575,000.
Alberta is becoming a class society where public/quasi-public employees are the entitled “haves” and laid-off/lower-paid/retired private sector employees are the “have nots.”
Not what Rachel Notley had in mind when her New Democrat government was elected a year ago last May.
But that’s the way it’s heading.