EDMONTON – New salary disclosures from the Alberta government reveal that the head of the Workers’ Compensation Board took home almost $900,000 last year.
The salary for Guy Kerr, posted online by the province, shows he was paid $742,000 in base salary along with $154,000 in added benefits.
“For years, lots of Albertans, including us in the labour movement, have been saying it’s a broken system,” Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said, adding the province is reviewing the WCB.
“So when I see that the guy in charge of this broken system is making nearly a million dollars a year – which is double what some of his counterparts, even people running the Alberta Health Service, which is a much bigger bureaucracy – I don’t understand how it ever got to the point where he’s making that much money. It really does stick out as something that needs to be reviewed.
“This one is clearly out of sync from what I think is appropriate,” McGowan said.
He agreed that someone in charge of a group like the WCB with important responsibilities should command a “decent salary.”
“However, $900,000 a year is completely out of line.”
Five WCB vice presidents took home salaries and benefits ranging from $460,000 to more than $600,000.
The agency is responsible for assessing and paying claims arising from workplace injuries.
Several other groups have posted salary information on the Sunshine List, including the Alberta Electric System Operator and Alberta Health Services.
AESO president and CEO David Erickson took home a salary of $850,731 plus $10,818 in other compensation.
The top two highest-earning AHS employees were vice president Verna Yiu ($601,771) and president and CEO Vickie Kaminski ($574,415).
Click here to search compensation information by public sector body.
The province is reviewing all WCB operations to determine if the agency remains effective and affordable.
The province is also reviewing all salaries on agencies, boards and commissions with an eye to bringing them in line with comparable roles in the public service.
More additions to the Sunshine List were made on Monday, including the executive director of the Alberta Securities Commission, David Linder ($590,309), the president and CEO of SAIT, David Ross ($518,374), and the president and CEO of NAIT, Glenn Feltham ($468,392).
Groups have until June 30 to disclose compensation information.
On Friday, the Wildrose Opposition released a list that consolidated all the compensation information released so far in the Sunshine List. The party said the NDP took an important first step by publicly disclosing more salaries, but said the information was difficult to look through, prompting the Wildrose to create its own database.
The party said it compiled 2,055 names on the list and found six had compensation greater or equal to $500,000. Forty-one people received compensation greater or equal to $300,000 and 181 greater or equal to $200,000.
“The good news is the provincial government has made a commitment to look at all the agencies, boards and commissions – they call it the ABC review,” McGowan said.
“If there is a utility for the Sunshine List, it is for that top sector, the political appointees, the senior bureaucrats, the heads of agencies, boards and commissions, who, because they’re outside of the collective bargaining process, their pay packages would not have been otherwise public.”
Compensation for the vast majority of front-line public sector workers is already made public, McGowan said. He’s sceptical of the sunshine list as a tool for public policy.
“The way it’s been designed makes it a tool that’s too often unfairly used against public sector workers to suggest that they’re overpaid and they’re fat cats, when in reality, our public sector workers – the front line public sector workers – if you look at their pay and their benefits packages, it’s very much in line with what their counterparts in the private sector would be getting.”
With files from The Canadian Press