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Fraser Institute News Release: Government employees in B.C. paid 7.5 per cent higher wages than comparable private-sector workers


VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Government employees in B.C. received 7.5 per cent higher wages on average than comparable workers in the private sector last year, and enjoyed much more generous non-wage benefits, too, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

Understanding the wage and benefit gap between the government and private sectors is critical as the B.C. government negotiates nearly 200 new contracts (which expire early next year) affecting hundreds of thousands of government-sector employees.

"Bringing government-sector compensation in line with the private sector would not only help governments in B.C. control spending without reducing services, it would also maintain fairness for taxpayers," said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Comparing Government and Private Sector Compensation in British Columbia.

The study finds that government employees in B.C.—including federal, provincial and municipal workers—received 7.5 per cent higher wages, on average, than comparable workers in the private sector in 2017. And that wage gap accounts for differences between workers in the two sectors such as age, gender, education, tenure and type of work.

But wages are only part of overall compensation. Government workers in B.C. enjoy much more generous benefits, too.

  • Pensions: Nearly nine of 10 government workers in B.C. (86.3 per cent) have a defined benefit pension plan—which offers a guaranteed level of benefits in retirement—compared to less than one of 10 workers in the private sector (7.9 per cent).
  • Early retirement: Government workers in B.C. retire 1.9 years earlier, on average, than private-sector workers.
  • Personal leave: Government workers in B.C. are absent from their jobs for personal reasons 49 per cent more often than private-sector workers—13.7 days compared to 9.2 days.
  • Job security: Government workers enjoy more job security, and were nearly six times less likely to experience job loss than private-sector workers—0.4 per cent compared to 2.3 per cent.

"Of course, governments in B.C. should provide competitive compensation to attract qualified employees, but clearly wages and benefits in the government sector are out of step with the private sector," Lammam said.

Charles Lammam, Director, Fiscal Studies
Fraser Institute

For interviews with Charles Lammam, or for more information, please contact:
Bryn Weese, Media Relations Specialist
Fraser Institute
604-688-0221 ext. 589

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

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