VANCOUVER—Wages for government employees in British Columbia were 5.8 per cent higher (on average) than wages for comparable workers in the province’s private sector last year, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Of course, all levels of government in B.C. should offer competitive compensation to attract qualified employees, but wages and benefits in the government sector are clearly out of step with the private sector,” said Jake Fuss, policy analyst at the Fraser Institute.

In addition to the wage gap (which accounts for worker characteristics such as age, gender, education and type of work) the study, Comparing Government and Private Sector Compensation in British Columbia, finds that government employees in B.C.—including federal, provincial and municipal workers—also enjoyed more generous benefits in 2018, the latest year of comparable data. For example:

  • Pensions: Nearly nine of 10 government workers in B.C. (86.0 per cent) have defined benefit pension plans—which offer guaranteed levels of benefits in retirement—compared to one in 10 private-sector workers (7.0 per cent).
  • Early retirement: Government workers in B.C. retire 1.9 years earlier (on average) than private-sector workers.
  • Personal leave: Government workers in B.C. are absent from their jobs for personal reasons 67.8 per cent more often than private-sector workers—15.1 days compared to 9.0 days.

“Bringing government-sector compensation in line with the private sector would not only help governments in B.C. control spending without reducing services, it would also maintain fairness for taxpayers,” said Jason Clemens, executive vice-president of the Fraser Institute.