Opinion » Editorial


Wages versus services?



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These can be significant costs and not just to Whistler's municipality. This is a cost economies around the world are grappling with. Near the top of the list is the cost of pension plans, despite the payouts primarily coming from investment portfolios.

An article on Taxpayer.com tells us that each of us would have to save $14,180 a year for 35 years to get the same as a federal public servant retiring today would get. Most federal public sector employees get 70 per cent of the average of the highest five consecutive years of paid service and they are fully indexed to the cost of living. In 2009-10 the number of federal employees reportedly earning over $100,000 was 42,050, having almost tripled in five years.

Here is something else to think about and why it may be time to think about salaries in all levels of government: in the '50s the mostly male workforce had a life expectancy of 67 years while today it is 81 years.

So in 60 years Canada has gone from a two-year pension payout to a 26-year commitment.

Then there is the question we ask ourselves all the time: are we getting value for money? Are the taxes we are paying to all levels of government giving us back good value in services?

A survey of 150,000 Canadians completed last month for QMI Agency found that 47 per cent of respondents would have no problem if the Treasury Board cut government salaries as a way of dealing with the deficit.

Perhaps this is an indication that many people feel we are not getting good value for our tax dollars.

An online sample of the same survey found that 45 per cent said public workers earned too much for the work they performed.

Remember those riots in Greece recently, as the country moved to introduce austerity measures? Well, according to various media outlets, the government's close to one million workers work for 12 months but get paid for 16 months.

This is simply unsustainable.

I know that our government employees work very hard at all levels - municipal, provincial and federal.

But it's hard to find a rationale for these workers to get an ever increasing salary funded by the tax-pool when in general people are getting fewer and fewer services.

According to the Vancouver Sun , the number of public servants earning more than $100,000 a year jumped 22 per cent between 2007 and 2009 - that was a time when the unemployment rate was heading up and everyone else's salary was going down.

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