Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Believe in Reason Over Religion

"God gave us reason. Man gave us religion. Believe in reason over religion." Inscription I put into a family bible I purchased recently...

Friday, June 01, 2007

BC MLAs deserve pay and pension perks

They say that the biggest mistake you can make in politics is to tell that truth. By that measure Yale Lillooet MLA Harry Lali has been making a lot of mistakes lately. He is the NDP politician who had the temerity to suggest that BC MLAs should actually take the pay increase and pension plan benefits recommended by an independent commission.

Before we proceed any further I should also point out that many of the recommendations made by the commission were in fact based on a submission I made to them. You can compare the two by clicking here.

I have known Harry Lali for many years now and I have always thought highly of him. Then again I have always liked politicians who have the guts to tell the truth rather than just always playing to the peanut gallery. Speaking of which a lot of peanut shells were fired at the government over suggesting, gasp, that the people elected to run our province might be worth being paid $98,000 per year.

To put that in perspective, try hiring a 22 year old to drive a dump truck full time in Fort St. John. It will cost you about $120,000 a year in wages and benefits. But what of the working poor, the unemployed and the homeless? Newsflash, as difficult as their circumstances are, they are not responsible for running a $100 billion entity known as the Province of British Columbia.

Besides if there ever was a time when our provincial MLAs deserved a pay increase it is now. The economy of BC has never been doing better. In my home town of Victoria we are enjoying the second lowest unemployment rate in Canada, only Calgary has a lower unemplyoment rate.

Yes governments at the local, provincial and federal levels need to do much more to provide affordable housing. Employers also need to get with the times and recognize that if you are offering a starting wage of less than $10.00 an hour don’t expect to have that job position filled any time soon.

As for the MLAs’ so called gold plated pension plan I believe it is comparable to other defined benefit pension plans offered in both the private and public sector here in BC. The irony being is that because of regulatory overkill, the BC government’s own pension solvency rules which only apply to private sector pension plans (public sector pension plans are exempt), has resulted in many pensioners receiving income cuts and is forcing more and more companies to give up on offering pensions and instead offer matching RSP contributions.

So if the government is feeling any contrition at voting itself such a hefty (albeit well deserved) pay increase, they can make up for it by either suspending or eliminating the so called pension solvency rules that are at present doing far more to hurt rather than protect BC pensioners.

As the former President and CEO of the BC Construction Association I can tell you that the construction sector’s multi-employer pension plans are in far better shape than that for BC government employees. So memo to Finance Minister Carole Taylor, suspend or eliminate the pension solvency rules as Alberta and several other jurisdictions have done before any more private sector pensioners face income reductions.

As for MLA Harry Lali keep speaking up for the truth rather than political expediency and kudos to the government MLAs for having the jam to accept the fact that if we want above average people seeking political office we need to pay them above average salaries.