By GILLIAN SLADE on May 16, 2020.
There are 19 political staff in Premier Jason Kenney’s office who collectively receive $2.4 million in remuneration annually.
Individual salaries, confirmed by the premier’s office Friday, include two people making more than $224,000, four with salaries close to $200,000 and the balance receive more than $114,000 each.
“These are some eye-popping salaries and quite frankly they are out of touch with the reality facing Albertans,” said Franco Terrazzano, Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta director.
Terrazzano points out that this is the office of a premier who has talked countless times of the “need for restraint.” Currently hundreds of thousands of Albertans are out of work and the premier has total control over savings that could be made in his own office.
Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, is concerned about the message this sends to Albertans and local constituents.
“A year into the mandate I too would like to see where Albertans are getting value for that kind of money,” said Barnes.
The News requested a phone interview with the premier. Staff said he was not available and there was nobody else that could do one.
“All governments, regardless of political stripe, have political staff. As we stated publicly in November of last year, the total compensation for UCP Premier’s office and ministerial office political staff is 21% less than the NDP’s was when they left office,” reads an emailed statement from his office.
During the NDP’s tenure there were people in this region who expressed concern about how much that government was spending. During the election a year ago the UCP promised a more conservative approach to spending.
Barnes says using the NDP’s spending as the matrix or measurement is wrong.
“A comparison to something that was outlandish and overbuilt is not appropriate,” said Barnes.
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Kenney’s office provided “position profiles” for each of the members of staff:
1. Principal secretary provides political and strategic policy advice to the premier – $224,137.
2. Premier’s chief of staff provides political, strategic and policy advice to the premier and serves as confidante of ministers – $224,137.
3. Executive director for the premier’s Southern Alberta office is responsible for developing and implementing the premier’s strategic priorities for Calgary and southern Alberta – $194,540.
4. Executive director issues management leads the team that anticipates, identifies and manages issues that may impact the premier and government – $194,540.
5. Principal advisor and strategist on all economic policy and economic development issues – $194,540.
6. Executive director communications and planning establishes and executes a proactive communications strategy for the premier and government – $194,252.
7. Deputy director communications and press secretary is the primary media spokesperson for the premier – $159,387.
8. Special advisor communications and deputy press secretary ensures the government’s priorities are being communicated throughout all channels – $124,521.
9. Director digital strategy maintains a “brand” presence for the premier on multiple social media and digital platforms – $124,521.
10. Premier’s speechwriter – $149,425.
11. Director stakeholder relations is responsible for setting and supporting the premier’s outreach priorities – $149,425.
12. Manager stakeholder relations responsible for engagement and outreach – $114,559.
13. Director of talent is responsible for talent acquisition, management and development initiatives for the premier’s office staff – $149,425.
14. Executive assistant to the premier accompanies and supports him at events, in meetings and ensures his schedule is maintained – $114,559.
15. Special assistant to the premier manages incoming and outgoing correspondence for the premier – $114,559.
16. Tour manager maintains the premier’s schedule and works to ensure the success of each event and tour – $114,556.
17. Special advisor to senior officials in the premier’s, ministers’ and public servants’ offices to deliver on special projects – $149,422.
18. Director of operations responsible for premier’s schedule, recommends best events for him to attend and ensure success – $149,425.
19. Caucus affairs. The premier’s office did not provide a job description and said the position is currently vacant – $119,540.
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