Stephen Harper figured out a neat way to reward ministerial aides before the election campaign began.
Without any publicity, huge pay increases and nice extra benefits were doled out to the staff of 38 Conservatives cabinet ministers, including those aides who went off working the election for their bosses.
Chiefs of staff will get up to $168,000 a year. (That’s more than the $147,000 a year MPs get.)
Press aides will get up to $96,000 a year. (Everybody needs a good mouthpiece these days.)
Personal assistants will get up to $78,000 a year. (Somebody has to carry the briefcase.)
More good news.
Harper decided that salaries of ministerial aides “must be on a level with those of public servants.”
Good news indeed.
Since a new labor contract was signed with the public service earlier this year, that means ministerial aides will get a 1.75 % raise on top of their new salary, 1.5 % more again next year and 2 % the year after that. Wow! That comes to $176,974 after three years for a chief of staff.
Harper thinks of everything.
He didn’t forget aides who have the misfortune to be working for a minister who loses his ministerial job on May 2.
Those aides will be getting six months severance pay instead of the current four months. A nice 50% hike. Good stuff.
These raises and extra benefits will be coming out of the various ministers’ office budgets.
Won’t this send ministers’ office budgets through the ceiling?
Harper thought about that too.
From now on, the expenses of ministers travelling abroad – on government business, surely – will be deducted from their ministerial department budget, no longer from their ministerial office budget.
Harper does think of everything.
Even the aides of junior ministers will be getting the same great treatment. Their staff too will be allowed on the gravy train.
All this information has come out thanks to the hard work earlier this year of Canadian Press reporters in Ottawa who went through government documents at the Treasury Board. (They don’t call it a “treasury” board for nothing.)
By pure co-incidence the neat raises went into effect April 1, a week before Harper announced new regulations freezing salaries and benefits immediately in all the ministries.
Harper’s people put out a news release which read: “Our government has shown over and over that we take our responsibility to protect public funds very seriously.”
”This behaviour is scandalous,” said NDP MP Paul Dewar, who is always checking up on government spending. “The Conservatives are more interested in giving bonuses to their political staff than protecting the pensions of people, or getting seniors out of poverty.”
Who says it doesn’t pay to work for a Conservative cabinet minister?