BC Ferries was defending hefty pay raises and bonuses for its top executives, even as the corporation announced a $1-million profit Aug. 23 for the first quarter of this fiscal year.
The corporation said it made $4.5 million from April to the end of June — up $1 million from the same time last year, thanks to higher fares and lower financing costs.
However, vehicle traffic and passenger traffic were down by 1.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. BC Ferries blamed the drop on the timing of the Easter holidays, as only Easter Monday was included in the quarter, instead of the entire long weekend.
While revenues increased, so did operating expenses, the corporation said. It spent $21.7 on capital expenditures, such as vessel and terminal upgrades.
“While we remain concerned about current economic conditions and the decline in traffic levels, traffic is starting to stabilize and we have recently seen an increase in commercial volumes,” said president and CEO Mike Corrigan in a written release.
“We continue to actively manage our costs and we are on track with our published business plan.”
The company has been under fire recently for handing out wage hikes and bonuses to its top executives, even as it works to “manage our costs” by increasing fares and cutting routes.
Earlier this month, the corporation revealed in documents that Corrigan received an eight per cent salary increase to $364,000 in 2013. He also received a $64,421 bonus for his “exemplary leadership.”
His total remuneration, including a pension, a supplemental retirement plan, vehicle expense allowance and other benefits, totalled $563,000.
BC Ferries’ two vice-presidents also saw their annual bonuses double.
But chairman Donald Hayes said at the corporation’s annual general meeting in downtown Vancouver on Friday that Corrigan’s raise stems from his promotion from vice-president and chief operating officer to president and CEO in 2012.
Hayes also said the wage hikes are justified, pointing to $26 million in accrued system-wide savings and the $1-million bump in revenue.
BC Ferries receives provincial government funding, and Transpor-tation Minister Todd Stone criticized the pay raises earlier this week, saying it sends the wrong message.
“BC Ferries has reduced its executive by almost half, and reduced their overall salaries by more than 50 per cent. However, more needs to be done,” he said.
“We need to ensure that taxpayers and ferry users are getting good value for their dollars. Government is tightening its belt, along with many British Columbians, and I believe that BC Ferries should take the same approach.”