The fat cats just keep getting fatter.
Last week B.C. Ferries' board members gave themselves a significant pay increase on the same day the corporation was raising its fares. The board of directors voted themselves a 60 per cent increase - and at the same time asked ferry travellers to start paying 7.3 per cent more on the three major routes and an average of four per cent on the remaining routes. With the pay increase, board directors will now receive $48,000 a year for their part-time work. That's up from $30,000. Board chair Elizabeth Harrison received the largest pay increase, as her salary went from $105,000 to $140,000 a year.
Now we're all for equal work and equal pay, but what was the ferry board thinking? Was now the right time to vote themselves a pay increase - the same day they hit ferry users with more fare increases? It's ludicrous. It's lame-brained. It's thoughtless and insulting and clearly shows the ferry board doesn't care about the public it is supposedly serving.
The topic was hotly debated in the provincial legislature. The New Democrats had a field day as the NDP blasted the Liberals for allowing this transgression to take place. Local MLA Nicholas Simons summed it up pretty well when he said the Campbell government is "completely out of touch with coastal communities." We couldn't agree more, Nicholas.
If it's not about the Sea to Sky Highway or something to do with the Olympics, the Liberal government doesn't seem to care. They are paying no attention to the cries from this community for improvements to Highway 101, paying no attention to the need for a new ferry bypass in Gibsons and more bike lanes up and down the 101 and clearly paying no attention to the needs of travellers on our other highway system - B.C. Ferries.
Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon was playing innocent when grilled by Simons and the rest of his colleagues, saying he too was upset that the ferries' board had voted for their increase. He pointed out that the ferry corporation has been structured so it's independent of any direct political interference. What a cheap cop out! Communities up and down the Coast are being devastated because of the fare increases and it's not going to stop anytime soon as fares will most likely go up again before the year is out. Fuel costs too, and that means only one thing -we, the travelling public, the users of the ferry system, get to pay more and more money for the service, while board members sit back and count all their money. Does that seem fair to you?