I was somewhat surprised with Steve Berman’s latest Enterprise Bulletin column here:
Steve goes to great lengths to defend the indefensible. Namely the growing gap that now exists between those who happen to have won life’s lottery. In terms of life long job security, gold-plated pension plans, index linked pay raises, extended health care. All paid for by the long-suffering tax payer, whom in most cases can only dream of such largess, but always ends up footing the bill.
Steve mentioned the town clerk in his cloying column. I will take his lead and run with her as an example. Let’s be clear I am not picking on Sara and from what I hear she is very good at her job, but it is a good case in point. I was astounded when I found out that she earns $137,412 per year. But in his column Steve qualifies this with a rather glib “The position of Town Clerk is of significant importance, and is required under the Municipal Act. To criticize her salary by posting that her “biggest risk is a paper cut,” in comments on the E-B article online, shows an ignorance regarding the position”.
There is no exact match in the private sector for Sara Almas position as town clerk but judging by her duties and responsibilities the closest I could get to it would be an “Executive Assistant”. I did a Google search on what the expected salary of this position would pay in the private sector, or what the Canadian average is. I came up with a low of $47,376 and a high of $70,906 please see link below:
Add to this the small town location and complete lack of any decent employment prospects in Collingwood, and it would be generous to allow a salary in the median portion of this salary range so let’s say $60k. No let’s be really generous let’s say $65k. Less than half of what our town remunerates for the same position. I would also venture to guess that if this position were advertised province wide in that type of salary range, the town would have well qualified people lining up down Hurontario St to apply for it. This example is repeated throughout middle management at town hall.
Steve’s other example is of a firefighter “Perhaps you’d like to say that again, while standing at the top of a 50-foot ladder in over 1,000 degree heat, trying to save lives.” Well of course in that situation we would all over value the roll of a firefighter. But when was the last time our local pampered fire department were called into that type of service? The last fire of this type that I can remember was when the Masonic Lodge burned to the ground on Hurontario Street, that was 15 years ago. I suggest that our local fire department are more likely to be dealing with the more mundane kitchen pan fire or cat removal from tree type of firefighting roll.
The other thing that sticks in many peoples craw about a few firefighters, is that the $80k – $100k per annum salary is still not enough. To add insult to injury I occasionally hear local legitimate contractors complain that they did not get awarded a small contracting project because a local firefighter/handyman under bid them by 50% on a cash deal. Obviously because they have too much spare time on their hands. I have an idea about our local firefighters. Why don’t we pay them a basic salary of say $50k per annum, then pay them on a per fire basis of say $100 for every mundane kitchen pan fire on an ever increasing upward scale all the way up to say $10,000 for the once in the firefighters career over-dramatized example that Steve used in his column. If that ever happened (it won’t), by all means supplement their income with small service and contracting jobs and relax whilst on duty in their “Taj Mahal” fire station. Because at that point the playing field with the private sector would then have been evened up a little. I also venture to guess that if this were ever the case, we would still have young men and women lining up for positions in our local fire service.
When I first completed trade school, as a licenced tradesman, public service jobs were paying around 20% less than the private sector. The idea was you take less money but get better job security. Years of successive gutless politicians pandering to these very vocal unionised workers, has led to the system being turned on its head with no end to the madness in sight.
This town has a budget crisis on its hands, we are $60M in debt with no cognitive plan in place to pay back any of it. I heard many stories lately, of the penny pinching that had been going on during the recent budget process. But what I didn’t hear was anything like “Wage Freeze”. It’s the elephant in the room that none of our elected politicians ever want to address or talk about. In fact in the last provincial election the hapless Tim Hudak did try to do exactly that, but the subterranean like deep pockets of the provincial union funded publicity machine attacked him mercilessly into submission.
I usually enjoy reading Steve’s scribbling’s, he is normally a voice of reason in the wilderness. I’m not sure why but it seems in his new roll as columnist, he has suddenly gone very pro-establishment in his views and commentary. I want the old Steve back.