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Re. “Firms plan “cautious” wage hikes” - the Globe and Mail, December 8, 2009

Tavia Grant’s article on the Conference Board of Canada’s recent study on anticipated wage gains in 2010 was published at a time when public sector wages and pension plans are coming under increasing fire from right-of-centre commentators. I would like to take this opportunity to draw your readers’ attention to some elements of the Board’s report that were not addressed by your journalist.

This report, like many recent flawed studies alleging widening gaps between public and private-sector employee compensation, does not compare wage differences for individual occupations - only groups of occupations. This allows the Board to conclude that public service professionals are doing better compared to their private-sector counterparts. A more objective methodology that takes these factors into account would demonstrate that this is in fact not the case.

As well, it is important to remember that earlier this year, federal public sector workers were targeted by Government of Canada legislation that caps their wage increases to 1.5% in both 2009 and 2010. These modest gains do not hold up well compared to the 2.4% (2009) and 2.75% (2010) increases projected for the private sector by the report’s authors.

It is also worth noting that in 2010, federal public sector wage increases will actually fall below an anticipated 2.2% inflation rate. This is hardly a sign of “cautious optimism” for our members.

One is left wondering if given the timing of its release, the Conference board study was meant to provide ammunition for the federal government’s ongoing and ideologically-driven desire to impose wage cuts or caps on its employees.

David Gray

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Publish Date: 22-DEC-2009 08:34 AM