The Current

Are long hours and little pay scaring off potential public servants?

Alcide Bernard was appointed mayor of Wellington, P.E.I last week — because nobody else wanted the job. Is there a crisis in local politics, where the long hours and little pay are scaring off potential public servants?

"I just couldn't make it fit within my life," says former city councillor

Some voters in Manitoba's October 2018 election didn't have a chance to cast a ballot as all of their candidates were acclaimed. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

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  An outgoing P.E.I mayor has been appointed mayor again — because no one else wanted the job. Are the long hours and low pay scaring off potential public servants?

  "We were getting a lot done but I just couldn't make it fit within my life and the need for a job," says Jillian Merrick, a former city councillor for Prince George, B.C. 

She told  The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that the juggling her job and her public service became too much. 
  "I had to choose between advancing my career and advancing my political career and I chose, you know, the one that pays the bills."

'Unfortunately nobody else came forward,' says Alcide Bernard. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

  Alcide Bernard, the reluctant mayor of Wellington, P.E.I.,  was appointed by the province after no one else ran for the position, even after the nomination period was extended.

  The small community also struggled to fill four of its five council vacancies.

For Merrick, small communities may not be able to provide lucrative positions, but they could offer other incentives to attract more candidates.

"Having extended medical plans can give you a sense of security. Education stipends I think are really important, especially for my generation that is still in a heavy learning phase of their life."

  To discuss the current state of municipal politics, Tremonti spoke to:
  • Jillian Merrick, a former councillor in Prince George, B.C.
  • Rick Chrest, the mayor of Brandon, Manitoba. 
  • Karl Buhr, a former mayor of Lions Bay, B.C.
  • Aaron Moore, an associate professor of political science at the University of Winnipeg

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

Produced by Samira Mohyeddin and Danielle Carr.


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