Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Whats good for the Politicians is good for the Workers

Salary increases show need for increase in wages of working people

Torontonians have seen two of the three levels of government officials give themselves raises in the last couple of months.

First, the Conservative Federal government, with approval of most Liberals Members of Parliament (MP’s) gave themselves a 20% pay increase, putting them in the richest 1% of Canadians.

More recently at the July session of City Council, Councillor’s approved a 9% increase to their base wage, arguing that Councillors in cities such as Vaughn and Mississauga are paid upwards of $117 000.

Predictably, the same Conservative media that rambles on about how ‘fiscally irresponsible’ socially funded education, health care and housing are, stayed relatively silent on the MP’s increase. With City Council being dominated by the New Democratic Party (NDP) these same media outlets came out blasting City Council.

Ultimately, what do these things mean for working people? In reality, these policies and the media response provide some important lessons regarding the opportunism and hypocrisy of government and media.

Nonetheless, the $8 million (308 MP’s X $25 000 per year) would have impact on people lives if it meant giving money for grants to low and middle income families looking to put a child through University. Likewise, the $400 000 (44 Councillors X $9000) would have benefited communities like Parkdale with hiring of a few more inspectors to shut down slum houses, or in Lawrence Heights where parks are in need to repair and clean up.

These same levels of government, not matter what Party controls it all are opposed to measures to increase the real or social wage for the majority of people. Not only this, but they have also implemented policies that DECREASE people’s wages. The municipal government continues to increase cost of services like the TTC, which the Federal government has gone out of its way to destroy the idea of a national system of affordable child care.

With the wages and services for the majority of people in decline, Politicians think it justified to be rewarded while our lives become harder. These increases will not make government more responsive and in fact show how hypocritical and unconcerned they are already.

Politician’s salaries should be indexed to minimum wages, so that politicians can’t raise their wages without raising the wages of all. We should remind these politicians that we need cheaper services, higher wages and more, better paying jobs.