When Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page released a report two weeks ago, which documented the average annual salary of a federal employee as $114,100, there were howls from the usual critics. Andrew Jackson writes:
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation was quick to jump on the report of the Parliamentary Budget Office on federal government pay and compensation, saying that it provided “shocking numbers on the overly generous compensation of federal government employees.” Echoing similarly-exaggerated claims by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and other employer groups at its recent pre-budget hearings, the House of Commons Finance Committee has just called for a review of public sector compensation and benefits.
But, if you dig down in the numbers, things become a little clearer:
Three of Canada’s leading academic economists — Morley Gunderson, Douglas Hyatt and Craig Riddell — conducted a study for the Canadian Policy Research Networks in 2000. The foreword summarizes their views on public/private pay:
(T)he answer to the question of whether there is a ‘pay premium’ associated with employment in government is far from a simple one. On the one hand, some groups, such as senior managers and specialized occupational groups, such as information technology workers, are paid less than their private sector counterparts. On the other hand, women in government, especially those employed in service jobs, such as food services, tend to be more highly paid than women in the private sector. It is clear that employment and pay equity policies, coupled with decades of collective bargaining, have narrowed the pay differentials between men and women and between the highest and lowest paid workers.”
A 2006 report by the Treasury Board Secretariat comparing federal sector and private sector compensation similarly found that the average federal government pay premium was “small” and existed mainly for lower-paid workers. Managers and professionals in the federal government, particularly senior managers, lag behind the private sector. Only a handful of senior deputy ministers earn the $220,000 per year needed to break into Canada’s top one per cent of taxpayers.
The Harper government and its allies have been conducting a war on wages for over a decade.The problem is that their targets are lower paid workers -- not those who earn high salaries -- particularly in the private sector.
And you wondered why those F-35s cost $45 billion?