It was announced last week that Saskatchewan's minimum wage is going to increase by 10 cents an hour for the coming year. Saskatchewan has been near the bottom as it relates to minimum wages across Canada. There are a lot of arguments around the minimum wage and whether it should be seen as a starter salary or as a wage that can sustain a family and a livelihood. It does have some affect on the viability of businesses in the service industry and other areas where costs cannot immediately be passed on to the consuming public. I know I would have a terrible time trying to live on a minimum wage job.
Obviously, government policy and the health of our economy affects the ability of this wage to rise along with all other salaries in the province of Saskatchewan. One area that seems to be totally removed from this whole scenario is the one where political parties reward their faithful.
The recent Sask Party leadership race which made Scott Moe the new Premier is a good example of this. The loser to Mr. Moe on the last ballot was Alanna Koch. It was announced this last week that she will receive a severance package of $346,000. You have to ask the question, "How can this possibly be?" This possibly can be because we, the voters and taxpayers, have allowed our political system to run amuck.
Back in the day when the Sask Party was the Official Opposition, and Brad Wall took over its leadership, Ms Koch became one of his key insiders and organizers. She was a political hack as it is understood in political parlance. When Mr. Wall became Premier of Saskatchewan, her reward was to become Deputy Minister of Agriculture and the very big salary that goes along with it.
Ms Koch is a very competent individual and well versed in agricultural issues albeit with some very strongly held views on certain issues like the dismantling of the CWB. A year and a half ago when Mr. Wall's mismanagement and bad decision making necessitated a very tough budget, the very political Ms Koch was brought directly into the Premier's operation as head of the civil service and Deputy Minister to the Premier. Once again, a very partisan person put into a position that should not have been in my view held by a political hack. Of course a nice pay raise came along with the new job.
Make no question about it, Alanna Koch's job was to bend the public service to deliver Brad Wall's bad news and trying to salvage his political legacy. I believe it was also done to give one of Mr. Wall's key political insiders the best shot at being his potential successor. I have often heard the criticism around the province that Ms Koch was the first Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Minister to the Premier without a university degree and was only there because of her political connections. Whether that is a valid criticism or not - I don't know but according to the new Premier, he had offered Ms Koch other positions in government besides the one she took a leave of absence from in order to campaign for the Premier's job.
She evidentially decided not to take any of those job opportunities and wished to go back to the private sector which begs the question, why are we taxpayers than paying $346,000 in severance? If there was another job in government offered and refused because Ms Koch did not wish to work for Mr. Moe then so be it. There should not be any severance. Ms Koch because of her long political past and very close association with Mr. Wall and his inner circle, she obviously knows where all the Sask Party bodies are buried and as a result, the taxpayer golden handshake is needed to keep all things harmonious in the Sask Party house that Moe built.
So much for the pledge to begin "doing things differently in Saskatchewan" that we heard about in the recent Sask Party leadership contest. I believe this sets a precedence of a new low in political patronage in the province of Saskatchewan.
It is time for all political parties to start setting the bar higher and clean up their acts.
Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.