|Time to Cut the Crazy Government Perks|
This week I proposed a new law which, if passed, will be a key step forward in cleaning up the culture of largesse and entitlement so evident in the ranks of Alberta’s senior government management – and especially in Alberta Health Services.
My proposed Taxpayers Protection Act would place a moratorium on all bonuses for senior government managers and executives. This would include all non-elected government agencies and boards, as well as in all ministries of the PC government.
This new law would also include a moratorium on the massive severance packages we continue to see thrown around senior ranks of government such as the one revealed this week where senior AHS Executive Andrew Will was paid almost $750,000 in severance for 6 years on the job. My proposal will cap all severance packages offered by the Alberta Government, its boards, or agencies, to a maximum of $200,000.
The moratorium would be put in place until the year after the province’s cash deficit (which currently stands around $5 billion) is eliminated; which by the Government’s own projections, will not be achieved until 2015.
While the bonus and severance moratorium is in place, my bill proposal will call for a multi-party commission of MLAs to be tasked with reviewing the current bonus and severance policies of Government departments, boards and agencies in order to make them more reasonable and taxpayer friendly when the moratorium is lifted.
For example, millions in “performance” bonuses and “at-risk” pay bonuses are clearly unrelated (or certainly loosely related) to actual job performance, meaning the senior executives and upper management receive the bonus regardless of how they perform. Additionally, government will often pay out many of these gigantic severance packages to folks who leave their position, and then hire these same individuals back in another area of government months later with equally cushy salaries, bonuses and severance packages. It’s the ultimate double-dip.
It is these kinds of lavish back door policies that are creating a culture of corruption in government where PC politicians can reward their friends for loyal service to the Party rather than the province.
Now, I want to be clear that not all, or even a majority of senior civil servants, are willingly participating in this taxpayer funded patronage buffet. Most are very dedicated to improving and serving our great province. However, leadership starts at the top. The fact is our province is deep in deficit, has had scandal after scandal of this kind, and spends more than any other province on public services. Yet, the quality of the services we are receiving does not reflect that investment (especially in health care).
Alberta does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending and mismanagement problem. It’s time that provincial management set an example of fiscal temperance until the situation is greatly improved as well as thereafter. Passing the Taxpayer Protection Act will do just that while eroding the PC-created culture of corruption and entitlement that delivers new and ugly revelations seemingly every week now.