March 25, 2015

Report: Government workers earn more, work less than private counterparts

Emily PrattRebel Correspondent

Work less and get paid more: It's what the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found is the case for public sector employees when compared to those in the private sector.

This wage gap is nothing new, but is costing taxpayers $20 billion dollars a year.

I spoke with Plamen Petkov, Vice President of Ontario and Business Resources at CFIB, about their report and how this gap is connected to retirement savings in Ontario.


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commented 2015-03-28 07:47:32 -0400
Maybe off topic but transportation workers now have to put signs on either side of where they are working because drivers will not slow down. The placing of these signs require 3 persons to a truck and 2 trucks are needed. It takes over an hour to place them and another hour to take them down. 12 hours labour just to erect signs .Just to maybe, fill a pothole.This extra cost was made necessary because drivers will not slow down.
commented 2015-03-27 08:39:18 -0400
Every time I see a Department of Transportation crew working on the road I usually see four guys leaning on shovels and one man actually working. The public sector often has a ridiculous level of job security. Why would they work hard if they’re in no danger of losing their job? A worker needs to know that his ass can get fired if he isn’t pulling his weight.
commented 2015-03-27 08:34:08 -0400
The public sector might be bad but the various level of government are the worst. All these politicians argue the need for the public to sacrifice while they have extremely generous salaries, expense accounts and pensions. I think the only thing the different political parties can agree on is the subject of giving themselves a raise.
commented 2015-03-27 06:16:13 -0400
Maurice your comments are mainly pertaining to workers in the public sector who have been promoted within the ranks.Dr. Laurence J. Peter has written several books on this very subject.
His first book " The Peter Principle" Which stated " that a person rises to the height of his/her incompetence" not only applies to public sector workers but also private sector workers. The book became so popular that workers who were trapped in that situtation wanted a way out,so he wrote “The Peter Prescription” This was followed by " The Peter Plan "which shows how people in the first book can survive. It is from this book that developes the type of worker in both sectors that your comments are directed at.
Highly skilled workers very seldom work in the private sector. Why would they when the pay, benifits and work load is far less in the private sector ? There are times when they will start their own business but because they do not have managerial skills the business usually fails and they get a jop in the public sector.
You mentioned the ability to talk for hours and not say a thing , have to agree, it is called a university degree. It is in “the Peter Plan” where anyone can learn this so called skill and a degree is not needed.
I have to add that this is the first time on this site where the comments have not blamed the Left for all the ills that are happening around the world.
commented 2015-03-26 22:22:21 -0400
Gee, Wanda, it sounds like you’ve worked in the public sector, too! While I was with the BC MOF, I’ve seen plenty of times two workers side by side, one hard working, dedicated and conscientious, and the other lazy, apathetic and doing just enough to get by. The dedicate, hard working employee had no advantage over the lazy, apathetic one. The one skill that mattered was the ability to speak with confidence, and the one thing that could get you in trouble was rocking the boat. There is a very specific skill involved in mastering the government interview process, and if you can master that skill, there’s no limit to how far you can go. You have to intuitively figure out exactly what it is that the interviewers want to hear. I once sat through an hour long speech by one of the upper managers from provincial headquarters. The speech was full of emotion and passion and, I suppose, designed to motivate the troops. After it was over, we looked at one anther and asked “What the hell did he just say?” He didn’t say a damned thing, but, boy, he was sure passionate about it. Those are probably the kinds of skills that David is referring to when he’s talking about “Top Workers”. If that’s what he’s referring to then, yup, the government has plenty of those “top workers”.
commented 2015-03-26 20:30:20 -0400
Maurice that is so true about the procedures becoming the goal and becoming impervious to change. I’ve seen some pretty bizarre examples of how new technology has been “customized” to suit old procedures, resulting in even more waste and inefficiency that there was before. And anyone who advocates changing the procedures or the processes will find him or herself treated like a turd in a punch bowl. The bureaucrats don’t like that type of thing. They lack the interest and the skills required to run efficient operations. And they don’t especially care if the public is not happy with the quality of services they receive because the people who deliver the services don’t have the resources or are working with harebrained procedures that no longer meet anyone’s needs. I agree that there are many good people in public sector organizations, but they’re completely hamstrung in terms of doing a good job. When you’re hired into the bureaucracy’s managerial layers, you’re hired because you have the skills to play bureaucratic games not do useful things. You have little interest in the layers beneath you. For the most part they are a nuisance that occasionally takes you away from more enjoyable pursuits.

This leads to me David’s comment about governments hiring “top workers”. I’m not sure what he means by top workers. If he means highly skilled people with a strong work ethic and lots of integrity, I can’t recall the last time I saw those attributes high on the list in any bureaucratic job interview. In the lower echelons you have to know somebody to get in. Hiring within municipal offices, public utilities, transit authorities and the like is still heavily influenced by nepotism and cronyism. Everybody on the inside wants to get their kid, son-in-law, best buddy a job. So being a “top worker” has little to do with job qualifications. The higher up the ladder you go being a “top worker” is irrelevant. If you’re in one of those non-jobs, there are no hard skills required. What you need is the ability to suck up, spew meaningless buzz phrases, prance and preen and play games with your peers. I’ve seen top talent from the private sector flee well-paying, impressive sounding public sector jobs because the jobs weren’t anything like the job description, the work environment was poisonous and they had little or no opportunity to use their skills.

I also agree that the house of cards is going to collapse sooner or later. The generation now entering the workforce isn’t going to be interested in forking over half their pay cheques to support their dysfunctional empires.
commented 2015-03-26 19:10:43 -0400
Nothing new in this. What is missing is the fact that the top of the line workers get hired by governments . Top workers want top wages, union protection,and pensions. This is not offered by the private sector.Public sector workers get overtime pay, work a set work week get statuary holidays, that is why the best work for government. In the private sector no unions, work all hours for straight time no statuary holidays low pay. So the private sector gets the less skilled workers.Now there are some politically a pointed workers who do very little on the job but these are not the ones we are talking about. Private sector got those as well,, brother of the owner,relatives etc. They are no help either.
commented 2015-03-26 18:01:32 -0400
Bill Collins, I didn’t comment on it because I wasn’t aware of it. Is that true? That’s terrible! But it doesn’t surprise me, unfortunately. If it continues, both the government and government employees are going to be in for a rude awakening one day, sooner than later. Once the private sector is no longer able to function economically, due to the high tax burden required to sustain a bloated government, the stream of tax revenue will dry up (I love the term “revenue tools”, don’t you? so much nicer than “tax grab”). Once the stream of tax revenue dries up the government will no longer have the funds to pay those high wages, either to themselves or to the employees. Of course, then all the employees swill walk off the job, demanding their “rightfully earned” pay increase, but with government not having the funds to pay them, the whole thing will implode like a house of cards, similar to Detroit but with no one to bail them out. Sad days ahead.
commented 2015-03-26 15:33:31 -0400
Nobody has commented on the pay increases granted to the public service of 47% over the tenure of the Liberal’s as compared to the total inflation rate of 15% over that same time period. Not to mention the increases in the public service of 300,000 positions. This is a lazy way to keep the unemployment rate steady. For every job lost in the manufacturing sector, just create one more in the public sector. Just more oversight by big government over a smaller pool of private sector employees. I believe it’s a make work project by fools who have zero business experience. These buffoons couldn’t organize a two car funeral, let alone a two hole outhouse.
commented 2015-03-26 15:06:32 -0400
Right on, Wanda. I agree with everything you’ve said. Government departments are generally set up to respond to a perceived need in society. There may have been very legitimate reasons for those Government functions when they were first established (Also, maybe not). Procedures are then put in place to address that perceived need. But time passes and things change, and eventually the procedures themselves become the objective, not addressing the perceived need. Even conscientious, hard working government employees (they do exist) when asked how they can cut costs, only address the way the procedures are carried out. They never address the original perceived need that the procedures were design to correct. Nor do they question whether or not the procedures are still necessary, or even if the department still serves a legitimate useful purpose. I’ve always believed that Managers who take charge of departments or projects for which they themselves possess no technical expertise, and they seem to be doing a good job, in other words things seem to be going off without a hitch, then it’s those Managers who are the ones who are redundant and unnecessary. After all, those who know, are doing. And they probably don’t need the Manager to hold their hand.
commented 2015-03-26 14:10:33 -0400
every private sector employee already knows this…NB Power employees have the best of the best, retirement option early etc…i find it funny when i hear one of them say ‘when are you retiring’…i say ‘you don’t want me do you because without me paying $4 for your $1 input, you won’t be able to stay retired’…
commented 2015-03-26 11:52:47 -0400
Ah, but it is so sad that words of wisdom such as these fall on deaf ears. Must be too much "Wynne(d) in the province of Ontario that the message cannot be heard.
commented 2015-03-26 08:30:13 -0400
Ontario government contractors, who toughed it out for 10 years or so, are now worth $2-$4 million personally – no joke. This socialist pile of crap that mcguinty and wynne have created has destroyed Ontario’s economy. Unions, backed by kicked back politicians are practically finished in the private sector. But because goobermint answers to no one, you can drive a transit bus with the hope of becoming a millionaire one day. Yep – the Canadian success story – join a union, be lazy, and figure out the system and where you can steal from it.

commented 2015-03-26 07:01:38 -0400
That’s a great post Maurice. It really describes how a combination of bloating bureaucracy and unionization sucked the joy out of your and your colleagues work. The two go hand in hand. They’ll never admit it but there’s an co-dependency of sorts between the senior layers of the bureaucracy and the union bureaucracy with one hand washing the other.

What’s also not well understood is how the growth of the bureaucracy and its increasing dysfunction has been facilitated by HR practices that encourage salary inflation and the creation of layers of “non jobs”, that is jobs that look impressive on paper but that don’t actually contribute any value to the end user/citizen/tax payer/client (however we want to describe those of us who use or depend on the services the bureaucracies provide).

These jobs exist to serve the bureaucracy and not “us”. They create dysfunction and suck up resources leaving those on the so-called service delivery front lines to do more and more with less and less. I cringe whenever I hear some cheerleader for the bureaucracy claim that these non-jobs warrant their six figure salaries because they need to attract the best and the brightest or that there will be an exodus of bureaucrats to the private sector if their salaries do not keep increasing. It doesn’t matter if you fill a non-job with a human or a chicken – the value they create is the same. Similarly, the last thing that a high earning non-job specialist wants is a real job in the private sector.
commented 2015-03-26 02:43:10 -0400
It was way different before government employees were unionized. I know because I was a government employee way back then. I started working in the BC Forest Service in 1968. We were not unionized and we worked long hours for low wages. Eight hours a day for a monthly salary of $324, and we didn’t get paid overtime. We had to work it, we just didn’t get paid for it. There was an “unofficial” policy of taking overtime off at straight time when the work was caught up and things were slack. That is as long as we didn’t accumulate too much overtime; If there was a particularly bad fire season, taking that much overtime off could mean that we’d be gone for the rest of the year, even at straight time. The work still had to be done so we couldn’t do that. (We actually still did the work back in those days, not just monitor the logging companies to make sure they did it right). So why did people work for the Forest Service, when they could have made so much more money and work less hours if they worked in the logging industry? We did it because we LOVED it! It was the first job I ever had where I actually looked forward to getting up and going to work Monday morning. There was a camaraderie, a pride of work, and a friendly competition that I had never experienced when I was logging, or in any other private sector job. The election of the Barrett NDP government changed all that. The BCGEU was born and it’s never been the same since. Wages increased, work hours decreased, education levels required to do the job increased, the number of levels of management increased along with the number of highly paid manager positions, the number of field staff decreased along with the number of duties and responsibilities of that field staff. Until finally the field staff just became enforcement officers, monitoring and enforcing the standards to which logging companies and contractors were required to do the jobs that the Forest Service field staff formally did. It wasn’t fun anymore. But it became a great place to go to staff meetings, pontificate at great length about your idea to improve enforcement standards, feel important, eat doughnuts and sit on your fat ass while collecting a big government pay check. Government employees should never be allowed to become unionized.
commented 2015-03-25 20:52:16 -0400
This sort of gap has existed for quite some time, but only in recent years has it gotten worse. And if changes aren’t made in the unions, the situation is only going to get worse over time.
commented 2015-03-25 20:49:55 -0400
The military are considered by many, to be public sector, and I’ll bet that those folks work more and earn less per hour than their private sector counterparts.
commented 2015-03-25 20:05:17 -0400
As long as public sector unions keep influencing political parties and elections it will only get worse.
commented 2015-03-25 19:58:58 -0400
If you think the gap between same jobs in the public sector vs. the private sector in Ontario is bad, you should see Alberta.

Since the private sector cannot increase pay and benefits to match the public sector, if equality is to be achieved, then the public sector will have to drop big time. Imagine the squawking that will happen should they try. But what am I saying, the Ontario Liberals will never decrease the public sector. They are too busy increasing it to bribe them to vote Liberal.
commented 2015-03-25 19:48:14 -0400
We’ve known this for years…