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This article was published 24/3/2015 (1795 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IF governments want to put our money where their mouths are, they can start by bringing public-sector salaries in line with their private-sector counterparts.
A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has found provincial civil servants in Manitoba earn 20 per cent more than somebody doing the same job for a non-government entity.
The discrepancy is even greater when benefits are factored in, according to the report's findings.
There are similar financial advantages for municipal workers throughout the province (a 14 per cent premium) and federal employees based in Manitoba (a 19 per cent premium).
"If the Manitoba government wants to get their fiscal house in order, they'll have to get back to sustainable spending," said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB's Regina-based vice-president for Prairie & Agri-business.
"Our research findings point to huge wage and benefits advantages for public sector workers over the rest of us. It's the elephant in the room when it comes to setting public policy across the country."
The report found if government workers at every level — municipal, provincial and federal — were paid at the same rate as their private sector equivalents, taxpayers across the country would save $20 billion annually.
That's money that could be used to build roads, bridges and schools, fund health care or pay for tax cuts, she said.
To those who suggest business owners should top up their employees' salaries to bring them in line with public sector positions, Braun-Pollon said private sector salaries are set by the marketplace.
"There aren't the same market forces in the public sector. The government has monopoly power," she said.
"Canadians in the private sector see their tax dollars paying for these wages and benefits that they can only dream of. Policy-makers need to start reining in these misaligned costs."
The irony, Braun-Pollon said, is that governments of all kinds repeatedly complain about being cash-strapped when an immediate source of cash is right under their noses.
The public sector is a major employer in Canada with 3.6 million employees, which represents more than one in five jobs.
Based chiefly on National Household Survey returns from 2011, the findings in the CFIB report represent average full-time employment earnings for more than 7.2 million Canadians. The report excludes jobs such as police officers, firefighters, government deputy ministers, university professors and military personnel, for which there is no private sector equivalent.