For those of us that begrudge municipal public sector workers' lot in life, newly released data from a recent poll of Montréal's citizens may intensify that emotion.
Forum Research's poll of Montréalers finds the majority of that city's denizens are dissatisfied with their municipal services. Montréalers just finished paying this year's C$2.9 billion in municipal taxes.
And yet, municipal employees enjoy generous working conditions that are well above average, the report reads. In fact, they work five fewer weeks a year than employees of large private corporations, and their total remuneration is $11,000 higher, according to an economic note on the subject entitled "The Working Conditions of Montréal Municipal Employees" published by the Montréal Economic Institute (MEI).
"Montréal taxpayers fund these exceptionally generous salaries and benefits that are out of reach for most of them," writes Louis Fortin, research fellow at MEI. "We can therefore ask ourselves if the notion of 'public service' shouldn't also include greater respect for Montréalers' ability to pay."
The public sector's retirement plans also stand out in terms of their generosity. In the vast majority of cases, civil servants' retirement plan premiums are paid for in equal parts by the employer and by employees themselves. In Montréal, the employer covers on average 70 per cent of the cost, and municipal employees just 30 per cent.
In a separate report dubbed "Canada's Hidden Unfunded Public Sector Pension Liabilities", the CFIB says public sector pensions could cost Canadian taxpayers more than $300 billion.
And according to a report from the C.D. Howe Institute entitled, "Winners and Losers: The Inequities within Government-Sector, Defined-Benefit Pension Plans", DB pension plans, such as those typically provided to government employees across Canada, produce little-acknowledged yet striking inequities.
Municipalities across the country
Elsewhere in Canada, the City of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island leads cities in Canada's westernmost province for civic employees pulling down more than $100,000 per year with 55, up from 48 employees earning six figures in that community in 2010.
But in the nation's most populous city, Toronto's 3,800 non-union staffers are due for a pay hike as their salaries have been frozen since 2009. Word has it T.O. is having difficulty filling senior management positions because "the salaries aren't competitive".
However, more than 2,000 City of Toronto employees took home more than $100,000 last year in salary, according to the Public Sector Salary Disclosure 2012, including paramedics, corporate secretaries and medical dispatchers. Last year's list disclosed 110 Toronto Transit Commission subway collectors and TTC drivers made over six figures in 2010.
Meanwhile, according to a 'Wage Watch' report produced by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), a comparison of pay across the country shows government and other public sector employees receive wages that are eight- to 17 per cent higher than similarly employed private sector workers. Adding in non-wage benefits, the overall public-private compensation gap reportedly rises to 25 to 30 per cent.