New Brunswick·New

NBSO salary hikes bother Alward

The New Brunswick System Operator's salary increases for its top executives are sending the wrong message about the state of the province's finances, Premier David Alward said on Tuesday.

The New Brunswick System Operator's salary increases for its top executives are sending the wrong message about the state of the province's finances, Premier David Alward said on Tuesday.

Alward told CBC News on Tuesday that he does not like how several top executives at the independent organization have seen a significant spike in their salaries.

But the premier said he will leave it to the Energy and Utilities Board to decide whether they are legitimate.

"I don't like the optics at all quite frankly," Alward said.

"There is a process that is in place to ensure if there are increases, they are legitimate, they are responsible. That is the [Energy and Utilities Board] process that is taking place."

The NBSO, a non-profit organization that ensures the reliable operation of New Brunswick's transmission system, found itself on the defensive last week while it appeared in front of the province's energy regulator.

The agency's executives first refused to disclose salary increases they received before finally making the information public.

Several of the NBSO's officials received increases of between 13 per cent and 50.5 per cent.

The raises were approved by the NBSO's board of directors despite a public service wide wage freeze announced by the New Brunswick government in its 2009-2010 budget.

The New Brunswick government is forecasting a budget deficit of $820 million in the current fiscal year.