VICTORIA – The first act of Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals upon re-election was to approve big taxpayer-funded raises for key political staff, say the New Democrats.
“Premier Clark has claimed that her priority is controlling spending. But already she is signing off on self-congratulatory raises for her political operatives,” said New Democrat house leader John Horgan. “Combined with the appointment of a larger cabinet and 14 parliamentary secretaries, it’s clear this government’s message of fiscal restraint and spending control is a farce.”
Top pay for key political staff like ministerial assistants (newly renamed as “chiefs of staff” to ministers) will increase from $94,500 to $105,000, while the top salary for the premier’s chief of staff increases from $195,000 to $230,000.
Horgan pointed out the most egregious raise goes to Premier Clark’s new deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario. The new salary grid raises her top salary from $144,000 to $230,000. After serving as the deputy campaign director for the Liberal party in the recent election, Cadario’s starting salary in the Premier’s Office is more than $195,000.
“None of these increases for political staff were included in the Liberal platform,” said Horgan.
The escalation in pay comes at the same time that the government prepares to make cuts to vital public services with a “core review,” and seniors in residential care homes are already being asked to pay a fee to use a wheelchair.
“Will the core review continue in this direction, bringing in damaging cuts to health care, education, and supports for seniors and children, while giving generous rewards to Liberal insiders?” asked Horgan.
Premier Clark and the B.C. Liberals campaigned on balancing the budget, lowering the debt, increasing job creation, and protecting critical public services. New Democrats will fight to protect those public services and hold the government to account for misplaced priorities that put politics ahead of public service.