This was something that was waiting to happen. Fresh from an election victory, Premier Christy Clark’s BC Liberal government has significantly increased the maximum salaries it can pay to its top political staff.
A cabinet order signed June 3 boosts the maximum salary that can be handed to Clark’s chief of staff by 18 per cent, up to $230,000 per year.
Clark’s deputy chief of staff can now also make up to $230,000, representing a boost of almost 60 per cent from the position’s previous cap of $144,000.
Passed by Clark’s outgoing cabinet, the executive order also reclassifies the top aides to several ministers, elevating them from ministerial assistants to chiefs of staff, and allowing for a maximum salary of $105,000 — higher than the base salary now given to MLAs.
So far, the government has named 17 chiefs of staff across the various ministries, with two of them making the top allowable salary.
Clark refused to talk about the changes Tuesday, and the government did not say how many people had received increases as part of the restructuring.
A spokesman in the premier’s office said the global budget for staff in ministerial offices has decreased with the restructuring, dropping to $5.711 million from $5.741 million.
He added that Clark’s chief of staff, Dan Doyle, will not be taking a raise as part of the changes.
Clark has now hired her assistant campaign director, Michele Cadario, to be her deputy chief of staff.
Under the new rules, Cadario will make an annual salary of $195,148. Clark’s previous deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, who resigned before the election over the ethnic outreach scandal, had been paid $149,027.
Clark has also hired Nick Facey, the unsuccessful Liberal candidate from North Island, to be chief of staff to Health Minister Terry Lake.
He will make $89,775 per year.
New Democratic Party House leader John Horgan slammed all the changes, especially given Clark ran an election campaign based on reducing debt and controlling spending.
“To give massive increases to political insiders is just plain wrong. They’re off on the wrong foot. They had an opportunity to do the right thing and they blew it,” said Horgan.
“At the same time we hear the premier and her cabinet talking about austerity and restraint, we see excesses for political insiders,” he continued.