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Columns: B.C. Taxpayers Want Pay Equity For Government Workers
By Jordan Bateman. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) released an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll today showing an overwhelming number of British Columbians believe government workers are being paid more than taxpayers can afford and should be brought in line with the private sector.
Four in five British Columbians said compensation for government employees should be the same as what private sector employees earned. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) said they would support provincial legislation—a Compensation Equity Act—to ensure governments can’t blow the budget on bureaucrat wages.
“This is a clear message to politicians—of every stripe and in every jurisdiction—that the time has come to rein-in ever growing pay and benefits for government workers,” said Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. Director. “People are tired of digging deeper into their pockets to fund public sector pay increases and gold-plated benefit plans—especially in an economy that leaves them wondering if their own job will continue. It’s an unfair and unsustainable burden.”
More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of British Columbians agreed that taxpayers cannot afford to pay more to government employees. “Families in B.C. are strapped for cash and fearful of the future,” said Bateman. “Many taxpayers lie awake at night wondering how they will afford to pay all their bills, put their kids through university, take care of their parents and put money aside for retirement, while paying more and more in taxes for government employees and services. Something needs to change.”
Bateman pointed to the controversy over TransLink executive bonuses as the most recent example of the public saying enough to ever-increasing pay and perks for government employees. In its Unfair Labour Day campaign last year, the CTF released statistics that show government salaries are higher than the private sector and increasing faster.
“This poll makes it clear: Governments have plenty of public support to take tough negotiating stands with public workers and bring their salaries and benefits back in line with those earned in the private sector,” said Bateman. “The gap between government and private sector workers is a great inequity in our society and must be resolved. A big step forward in that effort has been the B.C. Government’s net zero wage mandate, which must continue for at least another negotiating cycle.”
The CTF poll was conducted between March 16 and 18, 2012, by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The online survey was of 804 randomly selected British Columbia adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 per cent.