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Bureaucrats get Bonus for Cuts

An article written by Russ Francis for Victoria's Monday Magazine (January 23rd - 29th, 2003; pg. 5).

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One senior B.C. public official stood to benefit financially if enough people were kicked off welfare.

Another would gain if his ministry slashed the number of "children in care" by 15 percent.

These arrangements are part of a bonus scheme set up by the B.C. Liberals for all deputy ministers.

Whether or not deputy human resources minister Robin Ciceri received a $15,400 bonus last year partly depended on her ministry cutting welfare numbers by two percent in her first year on the job. She was also asked to come up with policies to cut the growth rate in disability assistance by two percent in the same period.

Meeting those and several other criteria would have entitled Ciceri to the full 10 percent bonus, paid on top of her regular $154,000 salary. A ministry spokesman [sic] said Tuesday that the number of people on income assistance has dropped by 26 percent since the government came to power. However, he added, more people are collecting disability benefits than before the Liberals took office. Consequently, Ciceri would have received only part of the total possible bonus.

Deputy children and family development minister Chris Haynes was due to collect his full $15,400 bonus only if he prepared legislation that resulted in a "15 percent reduction in children in care."

There is no mention of whether the eliminated children might have needed the care.

Records of the bonus criteria for Ciceri, Haynes, and 23 other deputy ministers were obtained this month by Monday through information-access requests.

They apply to the officials' first year on the job, which began June 15, 2001.

The criteria, in most cases, appear to be pretty undemanding.

The performance agreements for all deputies include six "boilerplate" conditions, including that their ministries operate within budget, and that the deputies "must have performed acceptably" in several areas.

As well as the boilerplate conditions, each deputy must meet several conditions specific to their ministries.

For instance, sustainable resource deputy minister Jon O'Riordan must "obtain a positive cabinet decision for a private-public partnership approach" to manage land-based information. The government is on record as strongly backing such partnerships.

Community, aboriginal and women's services deputy minister Bob de Faye was expected to carry out the "development of the community charter legislation" - the much-delayed reform of municipal law. There is not requirement that the legislation actually be passed - something that some believe may never happen.

Repeated attempts to discover how big a bonus went to each deputy minister have been so far unsuccessful.