British Columbia

BC Ferries top salaries to be slashed

B.C.'s Liberal government has introduced legislation that drops annual salaries for BC Ferries executives to levels typical of those paid to senior public-sector bureaucrats as opposed to top executives at Coca Cola, Nike and Ford.
B.C. Transportation Minister Shirley Bond has introduced legislation that would cut executive salaries at BC Ferries . ((shirleybondmla.bc.ca))

B.C. Transportation Minister Shirley Bond says million-dollar paydays at BC Ferries are sinking fast.

B.C.'s Liberal government has introduced legislation that drops annual salaries for BC Ferries executives to levels typical of those paid to senior public-sector bureaucrats as opposed to top executives at Coca Cola, Nike and Ford.

A controversial report by B.C.'s comptroller general last fall recommended salary and structural changes at BC Ferries after finding corporation president David Hahn was paid in excess of $1 million in 2008.

The figure included salary, pension contributions and performance-based incentives. Nearly half of Hahn's total compensation, $494,923, was salary. 

Hahn's total income from the ferry corporation was about twice that of top executives at Crown-owned BC Hydro and the Insurance Corporation of B.C.

When Hahn's stipend was first made public in July 2009, B.C. NDP ferries critic Gary Coons said executive salaries at the corporation were too high, given that the last few years of ferry service had been what he called "a dismal failure."

"Fares have skyrocketed, tourism is on a downturn because of rising fares," Coons said.

Hahn dismissed criticism

Hahn, who was not available for comment Thursday, reacted testily in November to the comptroller general's report and the
David Hahn dismissed 2009 criticism of his salary when it became a political issue. ((CBC))
subsequent criticism. He told CBC News that he had turned B.C.'s ferry system around and suggested his style is not that of a  bureaucrat.

"I'm not a public-sector guy. I'm a private-sector individual. I think that was well known by everybody for a long period of time," said Hahn.

"From my perspective, we've made substantial improvements and saved millions and millions of dollars in the process."

The proposed government legislation also makes BC Ferries open to Freedom of Information requests.

With files from The Canadian Press

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