Yukon politicians are overdue for a pay raise.
Not a piddly two per cent. Or even five per cent.
Not 10 per cent or even 20 per cent.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Yukon politicians deserve better than they’re getting.
Their pay should almost double.
There, we said it. And we mean it.
Currently, Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie makes $85,122 a year.
Given the job and responsibility, that’s a pittance.
Think about that for a minute … a low-level government manager makes that.
(Yeah, yeah … the jibes are as obvious as hippos in small rooms. But we’re taking the high road today.)
Fentie is, in essence, running an $800 million corporation.
It is a tough gig. The people running our territory must balance intolerably tough choices every week — and they rarely make everyone happy. In fact, they usually make the literate ones angrier than all hell.
It is a thankless task.
And, despite what people think, our MLAs are doing the job to make the territory, in their view, a better place to live.
Remember, however, that they are moulding it according to their life experiences.
And who is the territory recruiting?
Who can afford to do the job?
A new candidate from Whitehorse is running for a backbencher’s wage — $37,434. On top of that, they receive $16,343 for expenses, so the total is $53,776.
That’s not a lot of money.
And to become eligible for this substandard wage, you have to come out of the closet, so to speak, and align yourself with an identifiable party in a hyper political jurisdiction.
If you’re a professional civil servant would you give up your anonymous $68,000 cubicle post for a $15,000 a year pay cut?
These are people who have houses to pay for, car payments and, often, children fast approaching their university years.
Would you do it knowing that, were you to lose, you’d have to go back into the trenches working for, possibly, the guy that beat you?
If you were a consultant, would you risk aligning yourself with a party for such a wage knowing, if you lost, that your list of contracts might dry up after the voting was done?
Do the cost-benefit analysis. How often does it come out positive?
If you’re lucky and become a minister, you make another $21,147, taking the pay to $74,923.
Again, do you lose your $68,000, or higher civil service or teaching post for such a gig?
So who runs for office?
You get dedicated folks, sure. A lot of ‘em.
But you also get opportunists, people without a lot of experience and those with few other options.
And who do you want drafting economic policy?
There is a huge, untapped segment of society sitting out there.
They care about the territory, but, literally, can’t afford to run for office.
Successive political parties have dithered and avoided this issue for decades. They fear a public backlash.
But this is one move that the public would be foolish to criticize.
The pay grid has to change. The change must be drastic — salaries should probably double before the territory can hope to recruit a wider swath of society.
Otherwise, you get what you pay for. (RM)