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UCP spending $6M on “sunshine list” staffers, double what NDP did

The UCP are spending over $6 million on 51 “sunshine list” staffers, compared to the NDP, who spent $3 million on 24.

Last February, I wrote a story on how Jason Kenney was outspending the NDP by over $650,000 on staffers for his own office.

As a refresher, here are the staff tables for the first year of both premiers:

Kenney

TitleAnnual salary
Principal Secretary$224,137.94
Executive Assistant to the Premier$114,559.38
Premier’s Speechwriter$149,425.38
Caucus Affairs$119,540.20
Executive Director, Premier’s Southern Alberta Office$194,252.76
Special Advisor, Communications and Deputy Press Secretary$124,521.28
Director of Talent$149,425.38
Tour Manager$114,556.00
Premier’s Chief of Staff$224,137.94
Special Assistant to the Premier$114,559.38
Director, Stakeholder Relations$149,425.38
Principal Advisor$194,252.76
Executive Director, Communications and Planning$194,252.76
Deputy Director, Communications and Press Secretary$159,387.02
Manager, Stakeholder Relations$114,559.38
Special Advisor$149,422.00
Director, Digital Strategy$124,521.02
Director, Operations$149,425.38
Executive Director, Issues Management$194,253.02
Total$2,958,614.36
Annual salary is calculated based on the biweekly salary mentioned in their contract.

Notley

TitleAnnual salary
Director, Issue Management$159,387.02
Media Officer$109,578.56
Communications Assistant$72,720.44
Director, Tour and Scheduling$149,425.38
Director, Correspondence$69,512.30
Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff$124,521.28
Appointments Coordinator$93,640.04
Executive Assistant to the Premier$84,674.46
Receptionist$69,512.30
Deputy Chief of Staff$174,329.74
Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff$84,500.00
Administrative Assistant, Communications$69,512.30
Director, Media Relations$149,425.38
Administrative Assistant, Issues Management$69,512.30
Coordinator, Stakeholder Relations$114,559.38
Director, Appointments$149,425.38
Chief of Staff$224,137.94
Director, Special Projects$149,425.38
Media Officer$109,578.56
Tour Officer$69,512.30
Total$2,296,890.44
Annual salary is calculated based on the biweekly salary mentioned in their contract.

See? Notley spent $661,724 less on all her staff per year than Kenney is on his 19 most expensive, the ones making more than $111,395 a year.

Anyhow, someone asked me to check into how much each ministry in the UCP government is spending on salaries over $100,000, so here we are.

The Alberta government publishes salaries for staffers on their website, but the current government restricts it to only those making $111,395 a year.

Under the UCP, there are 51 staffers in the premier’s office and the various ministries, who make at least $111,395. The highest paid is Jason Kenney’s chief of staff, whose contract lists a biweekly salary of $8,620.69, which works out to nearly $225,00.00 a year.

When you add up the annual salaries of all those making above $111,395 a year in all the ministries, it comes to over $6 million.

Annual salary
Premier$2,137,503.42
Advanced Education$259,003.94
Agriculture & Forestry$119,540.20
Community & Social Services$139,463.48
Culture, Multiculturalism & Status of Women$119,540.20
Economic Development, Trade and Tourism$139,463.48
Education$139,463.48
Environment and Parks$378,543.88
Energy$388,506.04
Finance & Treasury Board$373,563.06
Health$522,988.96
Indigenous Relations$119,540.20
Infrastructure$119,540.20
Justice and Solicitor General$254,023.12
Labour and Immigration$119,540.20
Mental Health*$119,540.20
Natural Gas*$139,463.48
Red Tape*$129,501.84
Seniors and Housing$119,540.20
Service Alberta$129,501.84
Transportation$119,540.20
Total$6,087,311.62
Entries marked with * are technically associate ministries.

That works out to an average of $119,359.05 per employee for the 51 employees.

The office with the most employees making over $111,395 a year is the premier’s office, which employs 20 staff. The health ministry employs 4; the environment and parks, energy, and finance ministries each employs 3; the advanced education and justice ministries each employ 2; and the remaining ministries employ only 1 each.

Remember, this doesn’t include any staffers making under the threshold, which the UCP don’t report.

How does this compare to the NDP’s first year?

Well, there’s a caveat. The NDP posted salary information for all their staffers, not just for the ones making more than the threshold for posting, which was $104,754 in 2015.

Keeping that in mind, here are all the salaries from the contracts that the NDP government posted to their website in 2015.

Annual salary
Premier$2,137,503.42
Innovation & Advanced Education / Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour$627,342.30
Agriculture & Forestry$468,077.48
Human Services$412,394.19
Education / Culture & Tourism$699,849.30
Environment & Parks / Status of Women$552,751.94
Energy$657,349.68
Finance & Treasury Board$702,177.32
Health / Seniors$800,839.13
Infrastructure / Transportation$617,502.86
Justice & Solicitor General / Aboriginal Relations$572,675.22
Municipal Affairs / Service Alberta$561,941.90
Total$8,810,404.74

Oh, one more thing on the NDP numbers. For those making under the threshold, the NDP included a salary range in the contract. For the UCP’s benefit, I included the highest amount in the range for my data purposes. The actual totals may have been lower.

So, when we compare the amounts posted by the UCP and the NDP, we see that it looks like the NDP outspent the UCP by $2,723,093.12.

However, if we include only those who made above the posting threshold of $104,754, we see this instead:

Annual salary
Premier$1,613,794.00
Innovation & Advanced Education / Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour$224,138.20
Agriculture & Forestry$119,540.46
Human Services$0.00
Education / Culture & Tourism$0.00
Environment & Parks / Status of Women$119,540.46
Energy$119,540.46
Finance & Treasury Board$249,042.56
Health / Seniors$119,540.46
Infrastructure / Transportation$268,965.84
Justice & Solicitor General / Aboriginal Relations$119,540.46
Municipal Affairs / Service Alberta$119,540.46
Total$3,073,183.36

Now we see that the UCP are the ones doing the outspending, to the tune of $3,014,128.26. The UCP are spending nearly twice as much as the NDP had on staffers making above the sunshine list threshold.

In addition to spending less, the NDP had fewer staffers on the sunshine list. For example, Rachel Notley had only 11 staffers on the sunshine list in her own office, compared to Jason Kenney’s 20.

The highest paid staffer under Notley, like under Kenney, was her personal chief of staff, who had a biweekly salary of $8,620.69, working out to $224,137.94 per year, about the same as Kenney’s, not accounting for inflation.

The ministries combined had only 13 such staffers, bringing the combined total to 24, much lower than the 51 under Kenney and his cabinet. That gives us an average sunshine list salary of $128,049.31, which is nearly $10,000 higher than the UCP’s average of $119,359.05.

One way the NDP was able to cut down on total staffing costs was by doubling up on staff, having multiple ministries share staffers. For example, the health ministry shared a chief of staff with the seniors ministry, and the advanced education ministry shared a press secretary with the ministry over jobs, skills, training, and labour.

Now the numbers for the NDP are based on 2015 dollars. If we account for inflation, their reporting threshold would be roughly the same as the UCP, which would put their total spend on sunshine list staff at $3,263,964.38 in 2019 dollars.

That still comes out to $2.823 million the UCP is spending in their first year above what the NDP spent in their first year, accounting for inflation.

I found it interesting, that the NDP had 6 issues managers listed, none of which made above the reporting threshold. The UCP, on the other hand, have 4 issues managers above the reporting threshold.

You can see the data that I collected for the UCP here and for the NDP here, in shareable spreadsheet form.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

7 replies on “UCP spending $6M on “sunshine list” staffers, double what NDP did”

Kim, good data here. Curious to know what dollar value you would consider material for the year ended March 31, 2020?

In the context of financial transactions, including revenues and expenditures, for the period ended Mar 31, 2020. In other words, what dollar value do you consider to be impactful to the users of the Government’s financial information? What dollar value do you think users of the financial statements care about? What benchmark would you consider and what % of that benchmark would you consider using?

Well because to me, the $ values above are quantitatively immaterial. By quite a lot actually. So I was just curious if you thought otherwise.

Ergo why I’m asking you now what you think the material nature of the values would be

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