VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark has rolled back salary increases for political staff, after getting an earful from voters.
Clark told reporters Wednesday that salary increases for her chief of staff and new positions with the same title in ministers' offices will not go ahead.
"I have heard a lot from British Columbians in the last week about this issue of changing the pay scales and pay levels for political staff, so today I am rescinding those changes, because leadership means listening to people," Clark said. "Although the original change would have meant we were underspending the budget by $100,000, I've heard loud and clear that people didn't like it."
The lone exception is Clark's new deputy chief of staff, Michele Cadario, hired for the premier's office after serving as deputy campaign manager for the B.C. Liberal election campaign. Cadario will receive a salary of $195,148 to do the operations and policy roles formerly done by two people.
Dan Doyle, Clark's chief of staff, remains at the same salary as Cadario. A government spokesman said Doyle never accepted any raise, but recommended the maximum for his position be increased to $230,000 to attract the best candidate for his successor.
The top rate for ministry chiefs of staff, formerly ministerial assistants, will remain at $94,500 a year. The top rate for them was first increased to $105,000, then rolled back to $102,000 before being cancelled. Five of the people appointed to those jobs have had raises cancelled.
NDP leader Adrian Dix, contacted in Kelowna where he is campaigning in a byelection where Clark hopes to win a seat, said the raises show the government is "tone deaf" to the concerns of ordinary people.
Dix said the decision to scrap the raises is "the first victory for Carole Gordon," the NDP candidate in the Westside-Kelowna byelection.
Gordon is running in the byelection called for July 10, after Clark was defeated by NDP candidate David Eby in a bid to retain her Vancouver-Point Grey seat.
In the May 14 general election, Gordon lost by nearly a two-to-one margin to B.C. Liberal incumbent Ben Stewart, who resigned last week to allow Clark to run.