It is time for Premier Christy Clark to yank BC Ferries boss David Hahn’s gold chain rather than just bitch about it.
Oh yes — there is a chain linking Hahn to the government. No matter how the government has chosen to characterize the “privatized” corporate structure of BC Ferries, it remains, for all intents and purposes, an accountable public agency and Hahn is its public servant.
Over the past week, we have learned that Hahn’s million-dollar-plus annual compensation package has been augmented in ways mere mortals can only dream of.
Beyond his staggering taxpayer and ferry passenger funded stipend, Hahn has been given a $237,000-a-year pension bump. We are told the government feared corporate head hunters were attempting to lure Hahn away to the private sector where such pay perks are considered chicken feed.
His total pension package will be $315,000 a year.
By the way, B.C.’s highest paid public servant also gets $10,000 a year to cover out-of-pocket health expenses such as laser eye surgery and CT scans. BC Ferries says it helps provide some “choice and flexibility” in health and medical costs not covered by Hahn’s medical plan.
When you are as important as Hahn, and your services to B.C. are so vital that compensation defies the laws of gravity, you cannot be expected to stand in line for wart removal at the local health clinic.
I am no fan of NDP Leader Adrian Dix, but I applaud his commitment to reverse the pension scheme if and when the NDP forms government. I think a lot of British Columbians, particularly those who are slaves to the ferry system, would say that’s a darn good reason to vote NDP.
During the Liberal leadership race, Clark was quick to jump on Hahn when he mused about raising ferry fares 50 per cent on some routes. She chastised him for speculating about fare increases when he and his executive team were making such cushy wages.
Now she says the pension cannot be changed. “The thing is this is a deal that was made five years ago and it's a legally binding contract. We are, as far as I can tell, stuck with it, sadly," she says.
That is so lame.
I can assure you that the issue will be on the agenda this week as the Liberal caucus “retreats” behind closed doors at Harrison Hot Springs. I’m sure Clark will be reminded that her failure to clip Hahn’s wings sends a seriously negative and provocative message to all public servants.
For instance, B.C. teachers have just voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action if they don’t have a new contract by the first day of the new school term.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has said one of its bargaining objectives is improved salaries. Meanwhile, the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association is holding firm to its “net-zero” bargaining mandate, which means there can’t be an increase in total compensation costs.
Do you think the teachers — and other public sector employees lining up behind them — will roll over for net-zero when the government is treating senior public servants to gold-plated pensions and enough health-care pin money to fund a cure for cancer?
I’m guessing the BCTF and other public sector unions will have a field day exploiting such unconscionable excess. M