Cabinet order raises Liberal staff salaries

Big raises can now be paid to Premier Christy Clark's chief of staff and his assistant, the party's former deputy campaign manager.

Premier Christy Clark signs register after taking oath of office from Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon Monday.

VICTORIA – The NDP opposition came out swinging Tuesday, releasing cabinet orders that allow for large pay increases for senior political staff in government ministries and Premier Christy Clark’s office.

Cabinet orders dated June 3 provide for an 18 per cent increase to the maximum salary for the premier’s chief of staff, from $195,148 to $230,000 per year. The orders provide for a salary range, so the salary being paid to Clark’s current chief of staff, Dan Doyle, is not known.

Another order provides for Clark’s new deputy chief of staff, Michele Cadario, to be paid a maximum salary of $195,148. Cadario, deputy campaign manager in the B.C. Liberals’ successful election campaign, replaces Kim Haakstad, who resigned before the election over improper political activities in the party’s ethnic outreach strategy.

NDP MLA John Horgan said the move is particularly inappropriate as the government prepares to comb its operations for cost savings to meet its balanced budget target.

“It certainly seems to me that the first day cabinet meets, their priority is not the people of British Columbia, it’s their political pals,” Horgan said. “In the case of the deputy chief of staff, yesterday this individual would have been paid $144,000 a year. Today that position is $195,000. Nice work if you can get it.”

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the increases reflect new positions and additional responsibilities, and don’t mean extra costs for taxpayers.

The extra money is from “reallocations from within, but the overall budget will be the same,” de Jong said.

Among those new positions is the promotion of some ministerial assistants to “chiefs of staff” within each government ministry, making them responsible for other staff in each minister’s office.