The following is a column written by Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, on the current national strike by the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
Canadians shouldn’t feel sorry for privileged federal bureaucrats.
They don’t worry about losing their jobs or missing a paycheque. They get pay raises and bonuses, even if they don’t meet their own performance targets. Now they want billions more from taxpayers who are struggling to pay for groceries and make their mortgage payments.
Here’s the situation in Ottawa:
The feds gave 312,825 bureaucrats at least one pay raise the past few years. That means more than 90 per cent of the bureaucracy received a raise during the pandemic.
The feds paid out $559 million in bonuses since 2020.
Those bonuses flowed as usual even though “less than 50 per cent of targets are consistently met within the same year,” according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The feds hired 31,227 more bureaucrats over the last two years. The bureaucracy ballooned by 78,923 extra employees since 2015.
Compensation for each full-time federal employee is $125,300 when pay, pension, paid time off, shift premiums and other benefits are considered, according to the PBO. There are now more than 100,000 federal employees taking home a six-figure yearly salary.
The reality outside of the golden government gates isn’t as sunny. The average hourly wage in Canada in 2022 was $31.96, according to data from Statistics Canada. Given a 40-hour work week and 52-week working year, that equals an average annual salary of $66,476.
The Fraser Institute also crunched the numbers. Government employees receive 8.5 per cent higher wages than their counterparts working for a business. Bureaucrats also have better pensions, retire earlier, have better job security and take more days off.
Federal bureaucrats took pay raises during the pandemic and never worried about losing their job. Their union negotiators demanded up to 47 per cent compensation increases over three years, according to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
That would cost taxpayers $9.3 billion and “represent an ongoing annual cost increase of approximately $27,500 per employee,” according to the TBS.
This is about more than salaries.
The government union negotiators are trying to raid the public purse with their non-wage demands, which can be found in a document entitled: “Public Interest Commission Brief of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.”
Bureaucrats want more money if they work past 4 p.m.
They want an education fund for laid off employees of up to $17,000.
They want to stuff more tax dollars into a union-controlled “social justice fund” to engage in “advocacy for progressive public policy.” They’ve used the fund to send members to climate conferences in Madrid and Cancun and to advocate for higher business taxes. Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for their advocacy.
The demands don’t stop there.
They want “increased paid leave for family related responsibilities from 37.5 hours to 75 hours every year” and “four weeks of automatic vacation leave after four years of service,” according to the TBS. They also want “overtime paid at double-time, where now it is most often paid at time-and-a-half.”
The government union negotiators defend their demands by noting that the “the cost of living is rising.”
But what does more paid time off have to do with inflation? How does a month of vacation help bureaucrats afford the price of chicken? These demands aren’t really about inflation. They’re about taking as much money from taxpayers as possible.
Here’s what should happen:
The feds should reduce the total cost of the bureaucracy, which ballooned by 31 per cent over the past two years. The feds can find savings through attrition, removing perks like the union-controlled social justice fund, reducing the number of bureaucrats in Ottawa, pay cuts or a combination of all of the above.
A serious federal government would take a page from former Alberta premier Ralph Klein and put the onus on the union: take pay and benefit cuts or hand out pink slips.
(Mario Toneguzzi is Managing Editor of Canada’s Podcast. He has more than 40 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald, covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He works as well as a freelance writer for several national publications and as a consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list)
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