January 20, 2015 10:31 pm
Updated: January 21, 2015 1:05 am

B.C. public sector employees earn more than private sector counterparts: study


WATCH: When it comes to money in your pocket – it’s no secret those in the public sector often earn more and have better benefits than those in the private. But did you know on average those working for governments earn about 6.7 percent more? And that’s not the only disparity – Ted Chernecki has a closer look.

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B.C. public sector employees enjoy higher wages and greater benefits than their private sector counterparts in comparable jobs, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute.

The think-tank found that in 2013 government workers were paid on average 6.7 per cent more than non-union private sector employees and 3.6 per cent more than unionized private sector workers.

They also found that workers in federal, provincial and municipal sectors fared better with regards to non-wage benefits such as pension coverage.

READ MORE: Fight to increase minimum wage in B.C. to $15 continues

According to the study, 86.9 per cent of B.C. public sector workers were covered by a registered pension plan, compared to 19.2 per cent of those in the private sector. Of the public workers with a registered pension plan, 95.7 per cent enjoyed a defined benefit pension — which Lammam refers to as the ‘gold standard’ of pensions — compared to 46.9 per cent of private sector workers with pensions.

Government employees also retire 2.8 years earlier.

“Regardless of what measure you use, it seems like government workers in the province are getting a very big wage premium relative to their private sector counterparts,” says Charles Lammam, one of the study’s co-authors.

Public workers have been successfully negotiating benefits instead of wages in recent years. The Fraser Institute argues those contracts can be driven by politics while the private sector is driven by the economy, leading non-government workers to end up paying twice.

READ MORE: Raise the minimum wage in B.C. to $15 an hour: B.C. labour

“There are also fairness issues to consider,” says Lammam. “Is it fair that a private sector worker working a similar job as a government worker is getting paid less in terms of total compensation and also having to be responsible to fund those more generous compensation packages in the government sector?”

Paul Faoro, CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer, calls the study “spin” from a right-wing organization.

“What the Fraser Institute really wants to say is that they want workers to work more, earn less and retire in poverty,” he said.

“I would argue that what the Fraser institute should be doing is trying to figure out a way of actually lifting people up who are almost in poverty, rather than push people down. We should actually be working collectively, trying to find a way that everybody earns a decent living.”

WATCH: Government workers in British Columbia enjoy higher wages and likely more generous non-wage benefits than their private sector counterparts, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute. Jordan Bateman from the Canadian Taxpayer Federation responds.

*With files from Ted Chernecki

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