B.C. Premier Christy Clark has reversed a move to increase the pay scales of many political staffers, labelling the hikes a "mistake" which sent the wrong message at a time the government is touting the need for fiscal restraint.
"It was the wrong decision and I have always in my political life said to people, ‘I'm going to listen and if I make a mistake, I'm going to step up and fix it’, and so that's what we're doing," Clark said on Wednesday.
As part of the increases, the salary for Clark's chief of staff was boosted by 18 per cent, to $230,000 a year, and some ministerial assistants' pay went to $105,000, up from nearly $95,000.
The pay raises were made earlier this month, but only came to light last week after the New Democrats used government cabinet documents to leak the information.
NDP Leader Adrian Dix said the Liberals only changed course on the hikes after public outcry.
"People were outraged by it. It showed a government completely out of touch and fortunately they've been forced to back down," Dix said.
Clark said the only exception would be her deputy chief of staff who will still get an increase, although not as much as first planned.
Clark says that's because she is doing a job that used to be done by two people, an argument Dix says won’t fly with voters.
"A lot of people to get by and pay their mortgage are working two jobs. They’re the ones paying the freight for all these Liberal political appointees," Dix said.
NDP officials questioned if the Liberals would have reversed their decision if the premier wasn’t running in a byelection next month.
Clark, whose B.C. Liberals won a surprise victory in last month’s provincial election, is trying to win a seat in the legislature after she lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to New Democrat David Eby by 1,063 votes.