British Columbia

Top wage earners in Metro Vancouver city halls overwhelmingly white and male

An analysis by CBC News of the 10 highest paid employees in every Metro Vancouver municipality showed an average salary increase of $3,600 from 2018 to 2019, from $187,379 to $190,956.

Salaries of the highest wage earners increased by about $3,600 from 2018 to 2019

A statue of George Vancouver outside of city hall is cleaned after being vandalized with paint in Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The saying "the rich get richer" can also apply to local government in Metro Vancouver, it turns out.

An analysis by CBC News of the 10 highest paid employees in every Metro Vancouver municipality showed an average salary increase of $3,600 from 2018 to 2019, from $187,379 to $190,956.

The highest paid employee in the region was once again Vancouver city manager Sadhu Johnston, who made $362,852, up from $350,003 in 2018.

City managers in Surrey, Richmond, Coquitlam, Langley Township and Delta were next highest on the list, while Vancouver CFO Patrice Impey was the only non-city manager — and only woman — to make more than $300,000. 

Overall, 19 of the 81 employees who made more than $200,000 were from Vancouver, followed by 10 in the Township of Langley, nine in Delta, and seven in Burnaby and Delta.

The numbers come from the annual statement of financial information that every municipality in B.C. is required to publish, showing the salary of every employee making more than $75,000, along with the salaries of mayors and councillors.

The deadline for publishing the information was pushed back to the end of August this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but White Rock and Belcarra have not yet published their statements. 

The numbers include people in local fire departments, but not local police departments, which are not included in the legislation. 

Gender and race gap

Of the 180 employees listed among a municipality's 10 highest-paid employees, approximately 30 per cent are women and 11 per cent are people of colour. 

The numbers match a previous analysis of the lack of diversity in senior leadership positions at Metro Vancouver city halls.

"I'm not very surprised at all," said Amina Yasin, chair of the Canadian Institute of Planners Social Equity Committee.

"Generally in Vancouver we've been having conversations about the gender wage gap a lot more — and I think across Canada perhaps a lot more — than we have been discussing racial inequities."

Yasin argues that municipalities should conduct equity audits and release the data themselves, which would improve accountability and provide more information on what groups are most underrepresented.

"We are a diverse region and these numbers are quite low," she said.

"Internal audits are very important so you can have an idea of who is representing our cities? And, how equitable they are in relation to workspaces and payment?"


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