MLA Salaries – Membership Memo #3

Higgs gives himself huge raises but wants to impose below-inflation “wage mandates” on workers

Our provincial government has a history of trying to set wage “mandates” for all public sector workers. They want to impose this on all classifications, regardless of how workers get paid per hour. Lower-paid workers lose out every time when mandates are imposed, as they follow percentages, not flat rates.

The percentage widens the wage gap between classifications by giving larger increases to those who already earn more. To top it all, the recent wage mandates almost never address inflation, meaning workers lose real wages if they accept them.

Current bargaining: Many CUPE locals/councils have received wage offers from the government. These are 5-year deals with shameful “increases” (below inflation) of 2% for the first year, then 1%, 1%, 1%, and 1% for the other years. That is only 6% over 5 years. Inflation for 2022 alone was 7.6%! This government is demanding you take a real pay cut.

In 2022, this government gave itself an immediate 15% raise. In 2023, Higgs legislated another raise for himself and MLAs: between 9% and 13%, which comes into effect in November 2024.

The Premier raised his own salary…by 15% in 2022, and by 13% in 2024. He is saying that all workers should respect the proposed 5-year “wage mandate,” but when it comes to his own salary, Higgs does not accept his own mandate.

If we take politicians’ salaries and turn them into hourly rates for a 40-hour work week, in dollar amounts the Premier received a $21.70 per hour total increase for 2021-2023. Premier Higgs will have seen his salary go from $152,150 to $186,256. (32 000$ salary increase, equivalent to $21.70/h increase).

Cabinet members with a department portfolio are getting a raise of $15.90 per hour, $14.35 per hour for other Cabinet members, and $3.92 per hour for MLAs.

The government accepted these raises for politicians by saying that they needed to compensate for the “high inflation which has eroded their salaries”.

Let’s not forget how provincial judges also received the equivalent of a flat rate increase of $7.25 per hour for 2023, on top of raises for the last three years. This was also done “to fight off inflation”.

Why should CUPE workers, who in some cases would only need a $4-$6 per hour raise to get wages above inflation, not get the same fair treatment?