EDMONTON – Despite a last-minute court injunction preventing the publication of Crown prosecutor salaries, the province did make public other Alberta government employees’ compensation details on Friday.
More than 3,000 government employees with base salaries above $100,000 – and their compensation details – are on the list. However, the list does not include board agencies or commissions.
According to information posted online, Chief Medical Officer of Health James Talbot had the highest salary last year, being paid $346,763.07.
The list shows, in 2012, Elizabeth Brooks-Lim, an Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, had the highest salary, with $354,194.03.
Many of the top salaried positions were medical examiners.
The highest severance in 2012 was paid to Keray Henke, deputy minister of education and Dale Silver, a public service commissioner on the Executive Council ($478,776.64 each).
In 2013, William Meade, the assistant deputy minister of justice and solicitor general, received the highest severance of $335,630.34.
In 2012 and 2013, there was a total of 45 severance packages paid out, with a combined cost of $6.4 million. The average severance package was $142,660.25.
“By sharing this information today, we’re further demonstrating our commitment to openness and accountability,” said Associate Minister of Accountability, Transparency and Transformation Don Scott. “We will continue to set new standards for information sharing just like we’ve done with our open data portal, whistleblower protections, and travel and expense disclosure requirements.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is applauding the list’s release.
“Public servants work for us, work for the taxpayer, and we have a right to know how much they make,” said Derek Fildebrandt, CTF’s Alberta director. ” The government here has done the right thing and they’ve decided that we’re going to have transparency in who works for the middle and upper levels of government.”
In December, the government announced that compensation — including salary, benefit and severance amounts — for government employees with base salaries above $100,000 would be publicly disclosed, with the first list to be released online Friday, Jan. 31.
However, on Thursday, an Edmonton judge put the brakes on the province’s plan, granting an interim injunction.
Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Doreen Sulyma ruled that publishing the information could jeopardize the prosecutors’ right to safety and security under section seven of the charter.
“Crown prosecutors undertake a lot of risks in the work that they do. They deal, often times, with dangerous people, people who are often motivated to do harm to Crown prosecutors,” explained Paul Moreau, the prosecutor’s lawyer. “The more information is out there in the public domain about a Crown prosecutor, the less secure they are.”
Because of the injunction, the province had to redact the information of Crown prosecutors. The government said Friday the changes involved 300 names and took about 40 hours. The posting of the sunshine list online was also delayed until 4 p.m. Friday. Click here to view the full Alberta sunshine list.
The injunction will remain in place until the case can be fully argued in court.
The move to make public the salaries and benefits of the government’s top wage earners came at the request of Redford after her office refused a directive from the privacy commissioner to release details of severance paid to Redford’s former chief of staff, Stephen Carter.
Carter later said he was paid out $130,000 after being let go six months into his contract.
Friday’s list included salaries, cash benefits, non cash benefits, and severances earned in 2012 and 2013.
Subsequent disclosures will be posted on the government website, twice a year, and no later than June 30 and Dec. 31. The government says the salary base amount will be adjusted according to the annual change in the Alberta Consumer Price Index.
On Friday afternoon , prior to the list being made public, Premier Alison Redford released a statement on the sunshine list on her Facebook page.
“Today our Progressive Conservative government will deliver on another commitment we made to the people of Alberta in the last election.
We promised to lead a more open, transparent and accountable government.
And we’ve made some real progress in delivering on this commitment since the last election. From bringing in Canada’s toughest expense rules and disclosure system following the election in 2012, to today’s disclosure of salaries and benefits of Alberta’s senior civil servants, we are making good on our promise to be transparent in how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
For those employees whose salaries will be disclosed today, I know it is not an easy day. It’s never comfortable for our salaries to be disclosed and debated publicly.
As Premier, I see the results of the incredible commitment and dedication of our public servants every single day.
These public service leaders helped us get relief into the hands of hard-hit Albertans in the wake of last summer’s flooding – in days, not weeks after the flood. They have led a remarkable transformation of government services, challenging every dollar government spends, while working with us to focus government on building a stronger Alberta.
Today, these men and women deserve our thanks and recognition for their service and I would hope today’s salary disclosure is viewed in this light.”
With files from Caley Ramsay and Tom Vernon, Global News