Comparing the High-Priced Help

Ron Bolin — June 23, 2010
The Vancouver Sun recently published the second edition of its BC Public Service Salary interactive information data base. This data is collected primarily from the Statements of Financial Information (SOFI) documents which all public service agencies in the province must submit annually. This data base shows all those in the BC public sector who are paid from the public purse and earn more than $75,000 per annum, benefits nor expenses not included (to arrive at the total package cost one must add about 25% to the salary figures).

This service from the Sun will become increasingly valuable as time goes on in keeping track of changes in our public services and in fact increased greatly this year with the second edition of the data which allows annual changes to be identified. The web address for the province wide 2008 data can be found at:

The 2008 form provides a click to the 2009 data:

This page also provides some intriguing province and agency wide graphic comparisons.

The 2009 SOFI document for Nanaimo prepared by our Staff can be found at:

Nanaimo’s SOFI documents for 2006, 2007 and 2008 can also be found on the city’s web site. There is much to be gleaned from this data which sheds light on what is really going on in our municipal administrations. Also provided in Nanaimo’s SOFI are the expenses paid to Council and Staff as well as the names of persons or companies who have been paid $25,000 or more for products or services during the year.

There are interesting comparisons to be made between the high-priced help in Nanaimo relative to that in some of our comparable municipalities. These can provide guidelines for asking our Staff and our Council why we may differ from our fellow Municipalities. There may be good reasons. Then again maybe we are just too rigid – or too lax.

Let’s take a look at some comparative 2009 data. If we look at the following data:

	      A	   B   C    D   E
Kelowna	   120812 123 144  17  14
Kamloops    87017 103 107   4   4
Nanaimo	    84235  95 113  19  16
Victoria    82758 102  85 -17 -15
Chilliwack  76106  47  54  15  22

In Column A we see the population in 2009.
In column B we see the number of Staff making $75,000 or more per year in 2008.
In column C we see the number of Staff making $75,000 or more per year in 2009.
In column D we see the percent increase in the number of staff making $75,000 or more 2008 to 2009.
In column E we see the percent increase in the $$ spent on staff making $75,000 or more 2008 to 2009.

Nanaimo sits in the middle of the list in population. It had the highest percentage increase in the number of staff making $75,000 or more per year and the second highest percentage increase in the amount of total dollars paid to those making $75k or more. And all of us must bow to Victoria which had a decrease in both the number of $75k+ staff and in dollars paid to them. What is Victoria’s Secret (and I don’t mean the store). Kamloops appears to be the only municipality which maintained some sense of proportion in their increases, and at that they nearly doubled the general cost of living increase.

This would not be a problem if our local economy were producing increases commensurate with these rates of growth and if the property tax system were generating sufficient income that mil rates could be held steady or even decreasing, but this has not been the case. City Hall makes ever greater demands on our citizens and it must stop. What do you think?

Note: In generating this information I have consolidated complete 2008 and 2009 SOFI salary information for these five municipalities in an EXCEL worksheet. If someone would like to have a copy they can email me at: There is lots more that can be gleaned about salary ranges, tops, positions, changes over the 2008-2009 period, etc.