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CLBC execs get raises after bonus eliminated

Jun 19 2012

Senior executives at Community Living B.C. are getting pay raises to make up for a government decision last year to eliminate their performance bonuses, the Times Colonist has learned.

Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux confirmed Monday that the money senior managers previously earned as bonuses is simply being rolled into their base pay.

The only difference is that employees no longer have to hit targets to earn the money and will receive slightly less than they did in the past.

The three vice-presidents who previously earned up to 10 per cent of their base salary in bonuses will now get a permanent 9.66 per cent increase in salary. They earned a base salary of about $138,000 in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, documents show.

Directors and managers, who previously earned bonuses of up to five per cent of base pay, will get 4.96 per cent and 4.93 per cent hikes respectively.

The salary increases affect 61 senior staff and will cost about $300,000 — the same amount that

60 senior staff previously earned in bonuses, the government confirmed.

Cadieux ordered Community Living B.C. to scrap its bonus program last year amid a public outcry over the closure of group homes and cuts in services to people with developmental disabilities. She said at the time that it was inappropriate for agency executives to be earning bonuses while dealing with a vulnerable population.

But Cadieux said Monday that the money was really a salary holdback rather than a bonus and, as such, the government was unable to simply take it away from people.

"The challenge is that all of these people have contracts and they are all entitled to be compensated fairly and we have to do what's lawful," she said. "So we are removing the incentive-based portion."

The idea, she said, is to eliminate the perception that people are being rewarded for cutting services to the vulnerable, and give the money to executives as salary instead.

Cadieux said she did not explain that distinction to the public last fall when she ordered an end to the bonuses, because she was unclear how it worked at the time. "Honestly, I was under the impression that they were bonuses above salary and I did not truly understand that, in my naiveté, as a new minister," she said. "So, once I learned that as well, it became obvious that it was a more complex fix."

Cadieux said neither she nor her ministry were trying to intentionally mislead the public into thinking that CLBC executives would earn less money.

"One thing was said and that was that we would do away with the bonus-type structure and I have done that," she said. "I never promised — I never even hinted — that that would mean that people would be paid less than they were currently paid in their jobs . . . because that is simply not fair to individuals that are doing a good job."

But NDP critic Nicholas Simons said the public was clearly misled into believing that government was taking a tough stand.

"I think at the time they were in massive crisis management and they got away with saying that people weren't going to be earning extra money on the backs of people who needed services," he said. "And now we find out that they're just going to be earning that [money] automatically.

"It would be fair to assume that the general public would have gotten a completely different impression than the one being offered now. I think that doesn't do much to restore people's faith in an agency that has suffered a lot of credibility issues, which don't seem to be going away."

Cadieux said the new compensation package was approved by Community Living B.C.'s board of directors and the Public Sector Employers' Council. It took effect April 1.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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