B.C. GOV­ERN­MENT SEV­ER­ANCE BILL RISES AS FIRINGS CON­TINUE

24 Hours Vancouver - - NEWS - ROB SHAW

VIC­TO­RIA — B.C.’s NDP gov­ern­ment has con­tin­ued to fire staff to in­stall NDPfriendly of­fi­cials, bump­ing up the to­tal sev­er­ance bill to tax­pay­ers.

New gov­ern­ment fig­ures show the NDP has fired 23 ad­di­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cials since last dis­clos­ing fig­ures in July, bring­ing the to­tal of ter­mi­nated em­ploy­ees to 148. The pub­lic cost for sev­er­ances is now al­most $13.6 mil­lion, up $2.2 mil­lion in the past three months.

The gov­ern­ment ar­gued that the 23 com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cials had ac­tu­ally vol­un­teered to be fired, be­cause they ei­ther wanted the sev­er­ance amount or did not want to work for the new NDP ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The sev­er­ance costs would have been even higher, ex­cept that seven po­lit­i­cal staffers un­der the for­mer Lib­eral gov­ern­ment de­clined sev­er­ance be­cause they went on to work for the Lib­er­als in op­po­si­tion, as did one ad­min­is­tra­tive em­ployee.

The to­tal

bill has also in­creased from the $11.3 mil­lion first an­nounced by the NDP gov­ern­ment in July be­cause some of the fired em­ploy­ees ar­gued for bet­ter deals, pro­vided more in­for­ma­tion about their em­ploy­ment, or hired lawyers to ob­tain more lu­cra­tive com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages.

“All ter­mi­na­tions re­sult­ing from the re­cent gov­ern­ment tran­si­tion are com­plete,” said gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Jen Holm­wood. “How­ever, the Pub­lic Ser­vice Agency con­tin­ues to fi­nal­ize sev­er­ances with in­di­vid­u­als re­sult­ing from these ter­mi­na­tions.”

The NDP gov­ern­ment’s ter­mi­na­tion bill now ex­ceeds the cost in 2001 when the B.C. Lib­er­als swept to power. The Lib­er­als spent $9 mil­lion, which ad­justed for in­fla­tion, is roughly $12 mil­lion, com­pared to the NDP’s $13.6 mil­lion.

The NDP sev­er­ances also in­clude 15 ad­min­is­tra­tive or sup­port staff, 11 deputy min­is­ters or as­so­ciate deputy min­is­ters and two pub­lic ser­vants (gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees not po­lit­i­cally ap­pointed by cabi­net).

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