Premier Robert Ghiz thinks the province’s deputy ministers are underpaid; and so it may seem, but that is not the case.
Not earning as much as one’s neighbour ought not be confused with being underpaid.
If that were true, there would be no need for Islanders to work in Alberta’s oil patch.
A deputy minister acts as the senior civil servant in a government department, such as Health or Education etc., and takes direction from the elected minister. Their job is to run the day-to-day operations of the department, including the budget and any program development.
It’s an important job that requires experience and smarts to be sure.
The P.E.I. government is currently undergoing a review of salaries and pension benefits paid to its deputies, said to be among the lowest in the country. There is no reason to dispute that fact. It only makes sense considering our population is but a fraction of even the next least populous province – Newfoundland and Labrador – which has more than 500,000; and a far cry from Ontario with its more than 12 million residents.
Premier Ghiz thinks deputy ministers in Atlantic Canada are underpaid by about $50,000/year compared to other regions of Canada. Don’t get out the violins just yet; on P.E.I. they still make a minimum of $122,000 (and most more than that).
But the premier maintains the discrepancy is making it difficult to attract and retain well-educated professionals qualified to run government departments and provide policy advice to cabinet. It makes for a good talking point but doesn’t seem realistic.
Sure there are candidates out there who can make more money in their chosen field, but that doesn’t mean there are not others interested in the work who are just as smart and just as effective and who can do the job. Who knows? There may even be someone out there willing to become a deputy minister out of civic duty and who is motivated by aiding in the greater good as opposed to financial gain.
In fact maybe those are the people we ought to seek out in the first place.
No one here is suggesting that well-qualified people with such an important job be shortchanged; but $122,000 in salary per year and a very generous pension seems plenty fair for a province of about 140,000 souls. If the government cannot find the right people (a claim for which no supporting evidence has been provided) perhaps they are not looking for the right people.