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CLBC execs could still get bonuses

Jun 22 2012
Christy Clark says bonuses were part of salaries. 

Christy Clark says bonuses were part of salaries.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

Senior staff at Community Living B.C. could still receive bonuses for work they did last year despite a government promise to end the program, the Times Colonist has learned.

Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux called for an end to the bonus system last October when the Crown agency was under fire for closing group homes and cutting services to people with developmental disabilities.

But her ministry confirmed Thursday that the government and the board of Community Living B.C. decided to keep the system in place until the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012.

Senior staff at the agency are currently receiving performance evaluations and are expected to get their bonuses for 2011-12 by the end of July, the ministry said in a written response to questions from the Times Colonist.

The exact amount of the bonuses is unknown, but vice-presidents can earn up to 10 per cent of their base salary, while managers and directors can receive up to five per cent. The government has acknowledged that, in the past, employees have generally received the full amount of their bonuses.

Last year, the government paid out about $300,000 in bonuses to 60 senior staff at Community Living B.C.

"The decision to change the compensation plan for the organization was made midway through the last fiscal year," the ministry said. "Government and CLBC Board made a decision that the former compensation plan remain in place for fiscal 2011-12. This is the same approach used by other government organizations undergoing changes for staff compensation."

The government replaced the bonus system with a new compensation package on April 1. The money that senior managers previously received as bonuses is now rolled into their salary. They no longer have to hit targets and receive slightly less than they did in the past.

The vice-presidents get a permanent 9.66 per cent lift in salary once pension contributions are included. Directors and managers get salary increases of 4.9 per cent including pension contributions.

After the new compensation package was revealed this week, critics accused the government of duping the public.

"The minister was explicit that the bonus system was over," NDP leader Adrian Dix said Thursday. "Now the premier is saying, essentially, 'We tricked you. It wasn't over, it's just that you didn't understand what the bonus system was.' Well, I think clients at CLBC understood very well what it was about."

Dix said all the government has done is make the bonuses permanent. "You get them every year," he said. "It's a raise."

But Premier Christy Clark dismissed such criticism as "semantics," telling reporters that the bonuses were really part of a manager's base salary that was held back until they hit certain targets. She said the government promised to get rid of the targets, not dock people's pay.

"They had their base pay," she said. "Some of it was held back until they met specific targets. Those targets - and this was absolutely wrong - were often targets that were not in the best interests of clients. We needed to change that."

She said nobody in the senior ranks at Community Living B.C. is earning more than they did previously.

"I think the way that critics are describing this is absolutely just semantics," she said. "When the critics say that this is a raise, it just absolutely is not true. The base pay for those executives is the same. It hasn't changed."

lkines@timescolonist.com

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