Salaries to see day­light

House de­bates sun­shine list law, in­clud­ing ap­peal process

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY JAMES MCLEOD

The pro­vin­cial government de­bated leg­is­la­tion in the House of Assem­bly re­cently that will cre­ate a le­gal re­quire­ment to pub­lish all the names, po­si­tions, and salaries of pub­lic sec­tor work­ers earn­ing more than $100,000.

Finance Min­is­ter Cathy Ben­nett said that this is mak­ing good on a com­mit­ment that was made by the government last spring, and that it’s a trans­parency mea­sure which ex­ists in five other prov­inces.

“It’s open and trans­par­ent to the peo­ple of the prov­ince, and I think we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity as a government to pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion,” she said.

The for­mal leg­is­la­tion comes af­ter TC Me­dia ob­tained thou­sands of names and associated salary in­for­ma­tion from the pro­vin­cial government through ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion re­quests ear­lier this year, and pub­lished that in­for­ma­tion on­line and in the news­pa­per.

The government’s prom­ise to cre­ate a for­mal list came in the wake of TC Me­dia “sun­shine list” project.

The leg­is­la­tion cre­ates an ap­peal process for pub­lic-sec­tor em­ploy­ees who be­lieve that pub­lish­ing their name and salary in­for­ma­tion will cre­ate some sort of phys­i­cal or men­tal health threat. Ben­nett said an ex­am­ple of that would be a worker who was in a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sit­u­a­tion, and didn’t want their part­ner to know how much they were paid. Ul­ti­mately, she said it will fall to the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for a given depart­ment to de­cide whether or not a worker’s rea­son for avoid­ing dis­clo­sure is valid.

In those in­stances, the government will pro­vide anonymized salary in­for­ma­tion in such a way that it will not threaten the em­ployee’s safety.

The first for­mal pub­lic sec­tor salary dis­clo­sure list will be pub­lished be­fore July 1, 2017, and each sub­se­quent year be­fore July 1.

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