With the release of the ‘Sunshine List’ in Alberta, that is a list that shows severance and salary information for all government employees who earn more than $102,000 per year, a whopping $3.6 million dollars was paid out in severance payments in 2014 to departing Civil Servants.
Whether it was $2.1 million in the first half of 2014 related to the departing Redford people or the $1.5 million in the second half of 2014 for just ten Civil Servants, the amounts would seem high for most of us who hold down jobs in the Province.
Surely, senior cabinet officials are aware of our democracy and choose to accept positions that may well be tied to the ups and downs of any particular political party, or leader that could result in changes to their positions. If they willingly accept those risks, should taxpayers be forking over large severance packages when the inevitable change comes.
Our own labour laws in Alberta for ‘the common folk’ allow for termination pay of just two weeks of pay with two to four years of service to an employer and only eight weeks pay if you have worked for more than ten years for that employer. In most cases, contract workers with contracts less than 12 months do not receive any severance or termination pay and there is a list of other reasons an employer would not have to pay severance at all. If an employee resigns could be one reason and another is when a contract of employment is impossible for an employer to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employer.
Sure, our labour law is designed to be a minimum requirement and often severances are more than that minimum as they should be but should senior civil servants, who know their positions might not last, and who accept them anyway, be entitled to huge payouts when that time comes?
Salaries and benefits provided at a level high enough to attract good and qualified people to run our government is not a bad thing but the Sunshine List may have exposed an excess that Albertans should pay some attention to.