Hiring freeze exemption for premier’s office shows Liberal government double standard

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VICTORIA – While the B.C. Liberals ask everyone to tighten their belts in the face of a ballooning deficit, the hiring of new political staff in the premier’s office shows a double standard when it comes to government spending.

“Just last week the finance minister said one of the key ways the government plans to tackle the growing deficit is through a government hiring freeze,” said New Democrat caucus chair Shane Simpson.

“Clearly, there is one rule for the premier’s office and another for everyone else in regard to the hiring freeze.”

The premier’s office announced the hiring of three new people to political positions on Monday. While the Liberal government claims these positions are filling vacancies, Simpson noted that the salaries of Clark’s political staff for the 2011/12 fiscal year cost taxpayers $2.256 million, according to public accounts. By comparison, former premier Campbell’s pre-2009 election political staff cost $1.552 million.

The government’s hiring approval process stipulates that the hiring freeze can be overridden to meet an “urgent government priority.” Simpson questioned the urgency of hiring more political staff in the premier’s office on the taxpayer’s dime.

“This government’s fiscal management priorities are completely inconsistent,” said Simpson. “The Liberals are calling for restraint and belt-tightening while expanding their political staff and spending $15 million on partisan, publicly-funded ads.”

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe the Liberal government is not up to the challenge of managing the economy, and British Columbians deserve more. New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.