Senior provincial bureaucrats are getting a big raise.

The Nova Scotia government has eliminated performance bonuses for deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers andbumped up their base salaries instead.

For some deputy ministers, it could mean a pay hike of $50,000.

DMs will be paid between $134,000 and $184,000. They currently make between $103,000 and $134,000 in base salary, with a potential bonus of up to 15 per cent.

The new range forADMs is $117,000 to $161,000.

Angus MacIsaac, minister of the Treasury and Policy Board, said the performance bonuses have disappeared in an attempt to be "clear and transparent" about salaries.

The government also says the salary increases are necessary to attract and keep the best employees for senior positions.

The pay raises were recommended by an independent consultant, who found that in 2005 deputy ministers in Nova Scotia made about 10 per cent less than their counterparts elsewhere.

Liberal MLA Diana Whalen questions the reasoning behind the pay change, noting the new auditor general and freedom of information officer were both recruited from outside the province.

"Ithink this a politically motivated decision," she said. "The government doesn't like the annualdiscussion on bonuses so they've now decided to phase them out and just increase salaries."

The NDP's labour critic, Maureen MacDonald, wonders why the government decided to make the changes now.

"The government hasbeen telling us that they're unable to afford right now a whole variety of things —drugs, nursing home beds," MacDonald said.

The raises are retroactive to last year, so the top bureaucrats are in for another $15,000 in back pay.