Alberta ‘sunshine’ lists stall

EDMONTON — Alberta’s highly-touted salary and severance disclosure list appears to have stalled coming out of the gate.

Eight months after the so-called sunshine list was unveiled, there’s been no progress on announced plans to expand it to include Alberta Health Services, post-secondary schools and 200 other agencies, boards and commissions.

AHS and major colleges and universities told the Herald this week they are waiting for direction from the governing Tories before implementing disclosure policies.

A spokesman for Premier Jim Prentice said Friday the issue will be considered during a review of agencies, boards and commissions ordered by the premier last week.

But when former premier Alison Redford unveiled the public service compensation disclosure policy Jan. 31 for all government employees earning more than $100,000, her PC government said agencies, boards and commissions “are expected to adopt a similar policy for their organizations.�

Don Scott, who was an associate minister of accountability, transparency and transformation, said last February the government organizations would be given time and guidance to comply.

Scott said he didn’t want to draft laws to force compliance, but would, if necessary.

He promised that a framework for complying with the salary disclosure policy would be developed by a branch of government called the Agency Governance Secretariat, which will work with the organizations to implement the policy.

But the organizations contacted by the Herald said they were still waiting for government direction.

AHS spokesman Kerry Williamson said the health superboard, which employs 100,000 staff across the province, was working to ensure it would be in compliance with the policy, “should it be required.�

“We are determining how these new requirements will be balanced with existing privacy legislation, which limits the public disclosure of salary information,� he said.

Post-secondary institutions said they already disclose the salaries of board members and executives, but would comply — if legislated — to disclose all salaries of staff earning more than $100,000.

Duane Anderson, Mount Royal’s vice-president of administrative services, noted there is no legislation that requires the university to publish a sunshine list.

“But if this were to change, we would respond appropriately,� he said in a statement.

Alberta College of Art + Design said in an e-mail it had not received “any directive from the provincial government to disclose staff remuneration,� while SAIT said only that it published executive salaries in its annual report.

The University of Calgary didn’t respond to the question about the sunshine list, but it said in a statement that it is committed to transparency, good government and fiscal responsibility.

“As part of this commitment, we disclose executive salaries within our audited financial statements,� it said.

Opposition MLAs said the governing Tories like to talk about being accountable and transparent, but their actions fall far short.

“I think it shows that they talk a lot and get very little results,� said Wildrose critic Rob Anderson.

He said the official opposition advised the government repeatedly that if the sunshine legislation was to have teeth, it had to include all government organizations, including those at arm’s length.

NDP critic David Eggen said Albertans want to know how much people in the health-care sector are being paid. They also want sunlight on the benefits provided to those who received patronage appointments to government boards and agencies, he added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *