Canadian Taxpayers Federation calls for property-tax cap to contain municipal and regional pay hikes

The B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says there should be a property-tax cap to control spending by local governments.

Maureen Bader claimed that this is necessary to stop the type of pay hikes that reported earlier today at Metro Vancouver.

According to a report going to the Metro Vancouver board tomorrow (June 26), 248 regional district employees received remuneration in excess of $100,000 last year. That’s almost double the 129 Metro Vancouver employees who were paid in excess of $100,000 in 2007.

Metro Vancouver chief administrative officer Johnny Carline collected $291,755 in 2008. That’s a $31,620 boost over what he received in 2007.

“This is the same story probably all over British Columbia—but certainly all over the Lower Mainland—where we’ve got municipal staff and municipal governments giving themselves giving themselves pay increases and who are at salary levels far in excess of the people who are stuck paying the bills,” Bader said.

Statistics Canada reported today (June 25) that the average weekly wage including overtime in  B.C. in April was $790.13, which was virtually unchanged from April 2008. That works out to $41,086.76 on an annual basis.

Bader  claimed that Metro Vancouver is becoming “entirely unaffordable” at the current salary levels. The regional government relies in part on property taxes levied on homeowners and businesses to pay its bills.

Metro Vancouver funds its $522-million annual budget through a variety of revenue sources, including a municipal levy ($38.4 million), an electoral area levy ($213,825), a Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District levy ($144.1 million), user fees ($128.7 million), and water sales ($160.3 million).

“What we need from the provincial government is a cap on property taxes, which would force municipal councils to make difficult decisions, like for instance keeping salary levels under control,” Bader said. “What we need to do is to get more competition in the provision of municipal services, which would then allow for these salary levels to be moderated and probably fall.”

Bader said that amalgamating Metro Vancouver’s 21 municipalities into one megacity probably wouldn’t contain spending. She said that in Montreal, where the municipalities were amalgamated, spending actually  increased.

“What has happened is that there have been no job reductions, and all of the salary levels go up to the highest level,” she said. “So it has been a far more expensive proposition than most people realized. It has not worked out in the best interests of taxpayers. A megacity could increase costs to taxpayers, so it’s probably not the best solution.”



Joe Average

Jun 26, 2009 at 10:55am

Bader and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation should not be trusted. They are a right wing group that has cynically derided the call to raise the minimum wage in BC to $10/h. A forced cap on property taxes is extremely dangerous and it is one of the main factors in California's current economic mega crisis. It will not stop salary increases for bureaucrats and politicians, what it will do however is force government (or give it the perfect excuse) to cut vital social services (as it has in California).

If anything there should be a legislated cap on bureaucrat and politician's salaries that ties them to the average income. But since they hold the power and purse strings, it won't happen... at least not until they are forced to by public outcry...

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Reader via e-mail

Jun 26, 2009 at 1:46pm

I read with interest your article about the big pay increases stolen by the senior bureaucrats in [Metro] Vancouver last year.

It is outrageous in times like these that they would take advantage of their ability to write themselves blank cheques. An even worse insult to taxpayers is the increase in pensions for life these wage increases give to these employees.

Take one example, the highest bureaucrat you mentioned in your article earned $291,755 annually, an increase of over $31,000 from the previous year. His pension entitlement if he qualifies for full pension will be $203,000 annual pension income guaranteed for life. The annual increase of $31,000 was worth annual pension income of $21,000 for life.

In order for someone in the private sector to earn this level of pension income they would have to retire with in excess of $3,000,000 in their RRSP. Something is wrong with the system when a public servant walks away with a pool of money worth in excess of $3 million dollars. This reminds me of the Sting concert I was at a few weeks ago. "I will turn your face to alabaster ... When you will find your servant is your master."

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation presented a great solution with a property-tax cap to prevent this kind of abuse. These wages increases are unfair for all taxpayers.

To quote the Canadian Federation of Independent Business "There is no valid reason why Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for public sector pension plans when in fact half of the Canadians working in the private sector will not even benefit from any private pension plan upon retirement. The unfairness has gone on long enough."

Bill Tufts
Pension Expert, Fair Pensions For All
Hamilton, Ont.

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Jun 26, 2009 at 7:31pm

Oddly enough the fascists at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation were the biggest supporters of the Gordo in last election despite his massive increase in MLA and senior staff salaries. Never had a kind word thanking the NDP MLA's for donating their excess to charity.

And of course not a word about the massive taxpayer funded outfits like Telus, Rogers, and Bell who pay many of their million dollar plus executive salaries to people with the qualifications and talent of a bottom level civil servant. Of course these odious individuals drink at the same clubs as Bader and those of her ilk.

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Jun 28, 2009 at 12:23pm

How crooked this system is. . . I cant even get a decent job that pays 20 per hour and these people get 30 000 dollar raises. Time for a revolution!!!

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John Timmermans

Dec 20, 2009 at 11:55am

I made a donation with my credit card of $30.00 and the result came back that it was declined. Now. you either take it or forget it.

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William Hall

Mar 24, 2010 at 3:44pm

If every one does it it must be okay? Perhapes it is the OLD way. I would like to see You can not spend it if you do not have it. if you cannot balance your books you cannot buy your way out of it by adding more tax. For a few years the streets would not be repaired. Some people may not get service. If You continue to raise the tax to pay for more and more how and when does it end? Some people pay half of what they make now to the government. How did that happen? How would you feel now if I just came and took the other half? Slowly we let it happen. Maybe we should stop now. if you need your town policed more get together with your neighbours and help. It is so much quicker to raise a tax than to wait until you can pay for something.

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