Why the raise?, says MLA

  • Apr. 25, 2008 10:00 a.m.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons wants to know why the BC Ferries board of directors are giving themselves a large pay surge at a time when fares are rising rapidly. The directors got a 60 percent raise as of April 1, the same day fares on major ferry routes rose by 7.3 percent and fares on minor routes rose by 4 percent. (Northern route fares were raised in the fall.) “The BC Liberal government has abandoned ferry-dependent communities, but they’re happy to hand out big bucks to their handpicked board,” Mr. Coons said. “Why are taxpayers subsidizing fat increases to the board when ferry users are struggling to make ends meet with these unaccountable fare increases?” Mr. Coons, the NDP critic for ferries issues, visited more than 30 coastal communities over the past several months to hear concerns about the BC Ferries system. “Communities up and down the coast of BC have said the same thing everywhere I’ve been – their lives and business have been devastated by the fare increases,” Mr. Coons said. “Now there’s salt in the wound knowing BC Liberal friends have been rewarded for those increases with a much fatter paycheque.” The BC Ferries board has 13 directors. The 11 regular members had their annual stipend hiked to $48,000 from $30,000. The vice-chair’s remuneration goes to $63,000 from $48,000 and the chair will now take home $140,000 a year, up from $105,000. Board members also receive $1,500 for every meeting they attend. Being on the board is not considered full-time work but a part-time job. Even Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said he thought the increases were far too generous, but that BC Ferries is now an independent organization and the government cannot interfere in its decisions.