B.C. Ferries workers applaud a push by Transportation Minister Todd Stone to end what some say are overly generous bonuses for Ferries executives.
Stone told the chairman of B.C. Ferries' board of directors to address concerns about a pay program that gives B.C. Ferries executives nearly three times their Washington State Ferries counterparts.
Critics took aim at performance bonuses as high as $133,711 paid last year when B.C. Ferries achieved a $15-million surplus, but only after $21.5 million in extra government subsidies.
Clair Trevena, the New Democrat transportation critic, said government should change wording in the Coastal Ferries Act to fix the problem, but Stone handed it back to the chairman.
He said it sends the wrong message in times of fiscal restraint, and gave him 30 days to fix it.
"I'm not going to let this slip," Stone told the Times Colonist. "He knows we expect to hear back from him."
Chris Abbott, B.C. Ferries and Marine Workers Union president, was pleased to hear the news.
"Minister Stone should be commended in his recognition of the ongoing abuses and his intervention on the part of taxpayers, shareholders and the passengers of B.C. Ferries," Abbott said.
"Bonuses, of course, don't sit well with anyone, when the government is considering considerable cuts to service."
The bonus system has been criticized previously. In this year's annual statement of compensation paid to senior executive, the bonuses were identified as annual incentives.
"I would hope the board takes this seriously and does more than come back with a change of name to create the illusion of a fix," Abbott said.
Stone said he told B.C. Ferries chairman Donald Hayes to report back with a solution within a month.
"We had a focused and direct discussion and it was very much about: How does he fix this in a go-forward basis?" Stone said.
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