At a time when budget discussions are underway, kudos to Black Press and its regional newspapers for shining a light on municipal wages in Saanich, Victoria, and Oak Bay.
But in our view, the numbers are dated, don’t tell the whole story, and using per capita wage costs can’t justify the salary structure. All the salary numbers used are pre pandemic and don’t take into account a historic economic downturn.
You are correct in pointing out that the municipal wage demand is substantial during a time when there are major infrastructure deficits – roads, swimming pools, sewers, sidewalks, municipal halls, etc. – that are dated, inadequate or crumbling. As you point out, the wages cited are the most recent, although already two years out of date.
With population changes in recent years using the dated 2016 census – conducted in 2015 – to do “a rudimentary comparison of wages costs per capita” is misleading and not very helpful.
Importantly, wages are only part of overall compensation as government workers across the region enjoy generous non-wage benefits, too. Pensions, life insurance, personal leave, cost of living adjustments, sick leave, in addition to early retirement options and job security, also come at a price to the taxpayer. Typically, that’s about 30 per cent on top of wages paid.
Stan Bartlett, past chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria