City Hall quietly announces 9% VPD salary increase on a Friday

Post by Mike Klassen in


How long until the cupboard for municipal salaries is completely bare?

It was another "take out the trash Friday" news bulletin that caused barely a ripple in local media. The only news we've been able to locate on this are a lone Canadian Press clipping that has been recirculated by a few media outlets. It's no larger than a letter to the editor on the Vancouver Sun website. For Vancouver taxpayers it could be an ominous sign that Canada's least affordable city is going to stay that way for some time.

On Friday the City of Vancouver announced its settlement with the Vancouver Police Department – 8.8% over three years, retroactive to April 1st, 2010. It contains wage hikes of 2.95 per cent in the first two years and an increase of 2.55 per cent in the final year. Not only have the media not taken interest in the story, but so far not a word from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Gregor Robertson is quoted in the release that "he's pleased the two sides reached an agreement that respects taxpayers as well as the hard work performed daily by members of the police department." Of course, by "respecting taxpayers" he is referring to those of us who are fine with pay hikes that are double the rate of inflation.

Currently Vancouver police members earn at or slightly higher than the average for Canadian cities. The decision to give the nearly 9% wage increase, which was approved by Vancouver city council, was based upon the fact that other City workers have received increases over the past two years. Of course, what they're citing is the five-year deal signed in 2007 that resulted in a nearly 18% increase in pay for thousands of staff.

For those who are not familiar with the expression "whipsawing" as it is used in the context of modern labour negotiations, it means that one union uses another union's settlement as a starting point from which another deal can be reached. The City was essentially convinced by the police union that since their 3-year deal expired before other workers' five-year agreement, they deserved the extra two years plus another.

We reported how this is exactly what happened to City of Port Moody taxpayers last year. By settling for three years at a better rate, the City was penalized by a "top up" agreement to match other Metro Vancouver locals. It cost the (tiny) City of Port Moody an additional $450,000.

The cost for policing is far and away the single largest expense on the City of Vancouver's books. The VPD budget is over $100 million annually.

Now there are not a lot of folks who don't have a high respect for our emergency services personnel such as police and fire workers. When you've got a crime or life safety matter you want to make sure you get the services you require.

However, the pressure of rising costs of government are creating another crisis of affordability for the taxpayers. How on Earth will we ever square that circle?

The Province of British Columbia under the leadership of former Minister of Finance Colin Hansen established Mandate 2010 to settle dozens of separate collective agreements. It's to the great credit of both government and the union leadership that so far they have been able to achieve net zero settlements for two years with many of these unions.

These public sector unions aren't pushovers. Jim Sinclair has sat across from the table and settled for zero & zero. So have college workers, transit workers, CUPE locals and health workers. Mandate 2010 doesn't get any headlines, but it shows that when labour and government agree that the cupboard is bare, the expectations for wage increases must be tempered.

Of course, this doesn't mean that only unionized staff must not earn an increase. The increases we've seen in management salaries at unaccountable organizations like Metro Vancouver have bordered on obscene. And I'm still not clear how management at Vancouver City Hall can negotiate unionized salaries, then automatically receive those same increases.

Short of a mayor and councillors getting booted out of office, there is no clear incentive to keep the cost of government in check, and try to break the whipsaw. Only when cities cooperate, as they have under the nearly extinct Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Bargaining Unit, do they stand a chance. A US academic even wrote a paper on the subject of standing up to whipsaw tactics.

In "The Influence of Cooperating School Districts in Defeating the Union Whipsaw" Peter Goerges writes:

Through the exchange of information and the development of solidarity within the ranks of school management, administrators can defeat union whipsaw tactics, whereby a union wins large concessions from one school district and uses these gains to pressure other districts to follow suit.

Take our own beloved BCTF, for example. During the NDP provincial government of the 1990s, the teacher's union lost district by district bargaining rights because of whipsawing. That's a right that the BCTF want BC Liberal Minister of Education George Abbott to give them back. Just look at how the 'TF have been negotiating in the media – B.C. teachers, they say, aren't getting paid as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan or even Finland educators! Zero & zero? They're not interested in what other unions got here.

By the way, it's my understanding that Mandate 2010 has a "me too" clause built into it. If the teachers get the double-digit pay increase they're hinting at, it will trigger similar increases for all other union agreements including those already ratified.

Back in Vancouver, now that the VPD have their 8.8% increase, you can be absolutely sure that the union leadership for inside, outside and library workers will be taking no chances. The CUPE locals for City workers will be feverishly working to get a good deal for themselves from Vision before the November election.

Funny thing though, the best deal the union ever got was under the previous NPA government. During this election year I can't see how the NPA will campaign on anything more than 2-year net zero increases to match the Province. How this can be done now that the police are getting a 2.5% increase after 2012? Sadly, it ain't gonna be easy.

- post by Mike. Follow @MikeKlassen and @CityCaucus on Twitter.


Now VPD makes twice what I make, without having to have more than a high school education, gets a guaranteed pension, free parking and benefits worth thousands and still Vision thinks they deserve to get cheap housing in Olympic Village because....

Nobody's wages should be paid by theft, that is, coercive taxation. There should not be bands of mercenaries roving the streets.

The reason cops should get this sweetheart deal is that they're better than you, Catherine. You are not so special, Catherine. You probably produce a good/service that people want or need, and you give to them on a consensual basis. It takes a special sort of person to do the opposite of that, what a cop does.

Totally different from a cop, that is, a mercenary who enforces corporate policy for wages. Let's be honest: most of what the VPD does is enforce policy, a good bit of which, like drug prohibition, amounts to larceny and false imprisonment at common law. Same thing for the military pullovers to issue harness tickets. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT, OR WE WILL MAKE WAR ON YOU UNTIL YOU DO!! Cops foist their service upon people who don't want them---indeed, anyone who wanted to be pulled over for not wearing a baby harness is clearly mentally ill and should not be in shoes, let alone a car.

Currently Vancouver police members earn at or slightly higher than the average for Canadian cities.

Glad to see you went with the apples to apples comparison, but this statement assumes the pay rates of other Canadian PDs stays static.

Which I very much doubt.

I smell desperation...

The VPD like everybody else in the world, and I do mean the world, is going to have to learn to do more with less. Apparently not this go-round though. Also, I could swear that I've seen figures that show the department swallows up more than 20% of the city's near billion dollar budget. No wonder Chief Chu seemed so content at Tuesday's presentation of his department's 2012 strategic plan.

The Thought of The Night

'All Animals Are Equal! Just NOT on the Vision Farm.'

As a courtesy to you all, I give you the following movie to watch and enjoy:

You'll recognize The Vision Farm, the Vision dwellers, the Senior Management, the Council and the Mayor (check their meeting @ 29.00 min on the dot - still happy and not a worry in the world)...

Then watch their Hollyhock Adviser starting @ 43.00 min on the dot.

As for the useful VPD see them @ 22.00 min on the dot before the 9% raise and @ 33.00 min during the feed and resting time, then see them in action @ 35.40 min, after they were kept happy in their OV suites.
See? They know, one day they'll come in handy...

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

It is good to see you paying attention, and to have you calling our attention to this so that we can question decisions. I personally like to see the police force that protects me be well paid. And it is disingenuous to pretend that the cost of municipal services is what makes Vancouver such an expensive place to live. Why don't you do a post with some real analysis of the factors driving the high cost of living in Vancouver?

@ Steven. By your logic the spiraling increases in property tax rates don't have anything to do with our cost of living. Little things like recessions don't seem to get in the way of your own conclusions that we should just keep spending more on public sector pay.

How about the majority of folks who work in the private sector or small business who don't get these guaranteed pay increases? How many of those positions are being paid 20% more than they were 5 years ago?

Just look what's happening around the world. Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Greece, the United States! Debt, debt, debt. California, New Jersey can't pay public sector salaries, but those workers sure had it good for the past two decades.

I want folks to be able to keep their jobs, and not have to face a calamitous situation such as happening across the US where pay and/or jobs are slashed and the cupboard is empty. If union leadership and city management can't see this on the horizon, maybe a trip to Sacramento is warranted (paid for out of pocket, of course).

@spartikus. You might have noticed that I linked to this report on police salaries which shows rates by year. Vancouver's figures are based upon 2008, with high and low averages based upon 10% of each end of the scale.

The city should offer them a 25% yearly raise, but only if the VPD can manage to make it through a whole year without beating innocent people/pushing down disabled women/kicking compliant people in the face for fun.

The city would never have to pay for a raise again.

Good for you Mike for laying this out. I would have thought that everyone would realise we are presently in crunch time in our economy these days.

The City (Vision) continues to waste money hand over fist on issues that common sense would say are more suitable for the good times.

I agree we should be looking at other jurisdictions that are in financial trouble, as you say, and see what is in store for ourselves down the road.

Sadly this gang will be voted out-long gone and someone else will be left holding the bag, and getting the blame for trying to bring the City budget down to a manageable level so basic, needed services can be restored.

Keep up the great work of holding the feet to the fire of Vision profligate spending habits .

@Birdy. I don't share your view but respect your right to express it. Personally, I'm impressed with Chief Jim Chu and think he's created a good culture around the VPD under his leadership. I don't excuse the incident you refer to, but I don't think it's force sanctioned behaviour.

Isn't Meggs negotiating on behalf of the City?

Although I have no problem seeing our 911 responders paid accordingly, this will be just the tip of the iceberg for all other services.

Forgot to mention that not only did police get 9% raise, they also get first dibs at Olympic village housing thanks to Vision. Is this included in the collective agreement?

Why bother getting an education. Just become a cop, live on the water front and get a 9% pay hike. A good life ain't it. Except for the lowly taxpayers who happen to work at 7-11 who need to pay for all of this. Shameful.

Catherine...where have you been police officers have to have post secondary and go through the academy training...maybe you should have researched your career before choosing it

Protect you from what? Drug dealers?Polish tourists? Chinese thought-control campaigns? Knife-wielding 11-year-olds? Or just the threat of empty public housing at Olympic Village?

The Thought of The Day

"Higher Education and Academy Training benefit Cops the same way an Anti-Aging Cream benefits a 80 years old Socialite."

Check this one out! Here's the THREE Musketeers 9% salary increase hard at work.


Alert me please, if you see any sign of remorse, or the slightest intention to 'serve and protect', or anything that would qualify any of these three musketeers to be in this profession. I want to hear you trying to defend that!

BTW, for your information, you paid for their Academy Training too! Now read my Thought of The Day again...

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Actually 90% of us have university education and we pay for parking. As far as pay goes we are now the highest paid force in the country as it is the highest cost of living.

If you don't like the police call the fire department when someone is breaking into your house on Christmas eve while my wife and kid are waiting for me to come home.

Jeez, the circle is almost complete here fellow posters.

Teachers aren't professional and aren't worth a penny, now the police are uneducated slackers feeding off the public teet--all we need now is to tell the firefighters what a bunch of lazy wanks they are.

Incredible video, or rather, I wish it were incredible.

Have any of those three arrogant thugs been disciplined (at least one should be charged with assault) or is that a stupid question?

Canuckula, what's your position on this? Do you think those guys are worth their best in Canada salary? Do you think they are the kind of individuals the average citizen wants to call round to their house? Just ask Yao Wei Wu.

I know there are good people in the VPD, I've met them. But the consistent failure of the force to deal with its numerous bad apples combined with its less than stellar reputation in dealing with crime explains why even 'law and order' citizens such as myself think this pay increase is entirely unwarranted.


There are good and bad right across Canada, and internationally.

Northern Ireland has a program in place - PONI or Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, that seems to have had great measures of sucess with investigating police incidents.

Anytime there is an officer related incident, PONI is immediately called and has full access to the investigation. All info is readily on their site, ongoing investigations, outcomes etc.

It is worth a visit:
www.policeombudsman dot org

@ Max

Absolutely. Until we have effective consequences for those officers who abuse the power and status given them by the citizenry the respect our police force should have will continue to decline. This is bad for public and police alike.

On a lighter note boohoo's response made me think of this

The idea of 'right wingers' being concerned about police brutality and free speech seems to be challenging to many preconceptions!

I don't know if it's possible to get addicted to your Thought of The day, but I think I'm developing a fetish in that direction. :-) Having said that, the video clip is astounding, I'd like to have more info on that, and maybe a link with sound (this clip for some reason didn't work with my audio):-(
As per David before me I am curios to find out if any or all officers were disciplined at all. Their lack of compassion in the face of such an unjust behavior from one of their own is despicable. Imagine it was your mom, sister, daughter, wife... What is the difference between hooliganism and this?
Thanks, bud.
NOTE TO ALL: that video is required viewing

"...tell the firefighters what a bunch of lazy wanks they are". No-one would be so irresponsible.

Mind you, they are all white and male and they haven't put out a fire (even on Pandora St.) quick enough to save any lives for quite some time. If the sprinkler by-law were strictly enforced we could fire the lot of them and they can lift weights on their own time.


You're not being fair here. Firefighting may involve long periods of inactivity but these are interspersed with bursts of intense and dangerous activity. Not unlike General Smuts' definition of war.

Living in a wooden house in a row of wooden house I think the insurance policy of a Fire Hall down the road is well worth paying for, even if I hope never to have need of it.

I think I must agree as well....I have great respect for the risks our firefighters take...

Well, that didn't take long.

Let's see...teachers, cops, firefighters...let's see if we can shit on nurses now.

you are irrepressable, and in this particular instance halfway (to be fair - 50%) full of s%*t. That FHL made a somewhat disparaging remark against firefighters is true, and I stand with others - yourself included - who don't agree (this is why you are not 100% full of s%$t). However, only one poster has ever mentioned teachers or nurses relating to this post and that is you.

Teachers and nurses have never been mentioned in relation to this discussion. You drag into the discussion element that which was not mentioned and does not belong, and to what end I am just not sure.

Somewhat disparaging? He called them racist, lazy and incompetent. That's a bit more than somewhat disparaging.

But anyway, yes, I bring up teachers here because it's similar to cops.

You take a few bad apples (of which there most certainly are) and belittle and mock the entire profession. Professions and professionals that are fundamental to our society yet people think they are greedy, lazy, incompetent, etc... It's incredible.

Also, Mike brings up the BCTF in this post so...

@ boo: "Professions and professionals that are fundamental to our society yet people think they are greedy, lazy, incompetent, etc... It's incredible.:"
I fear you react to a bad act of overgeneralization with an overgeneralization of your own. You are the one who brought the firefighters into the discussion (not that I agree at all with FHL's comment - I don't);

Mike only mentioned BCTF in context of bargaining tactics, not commenting either way on the professionalism of teachers, and the nurses are yet another new introduction into the mix.

I agree entirely with your sentiments that certain professions and professionals are fundamental. But the only people under fire here are the VPD, and the fundamental thrust of Mike's piece is that there is a cost factor to all of us related with their contract agreement. Mikes point - to which I agree - is that essentially, we as a society are broke and where the f*(%k is the money to come from....

Tangental to the conversation is the disgusting fact that several cops did act unprofessionally in the streets of East Van, and hopefully this will be dealt with (MKL himself is clear that it is tangental to his piece).

But nowhere other than on the tangents are the teachers brought in (never bashed) or the firefighters (unfairly bashed in my view) or the nurses (your new wrinkle). In fairness to teachers, firefighters, and nurses - we should in my view leave assertions about their conduct or professionalism out of this.

Sure Douglas, technically they are different topics. But come on, this is a discussion about public services. Teacher bashing is certainly nothing new to this blog.

I also totally disagree with this idea that we (collectively) are broke. It just ain't true. Money is still flowing. We're building billion dollar highways. Casinos. Development is happening everywhere. CEO's are laughing all the way to the bank. The problem is the money is flowing up.

I'm not sure how much money we have Boo, after watching what is going on right now with the OV...I'm not sure how great a position we're in.. this doesn't look so good...

agreeing to disagree here. I'm with MK on this: "the pressure of rising costs of government are creating another crisis of affordability for the taxpayers."
Casinos are the big red flag - when government argues they need casino revenues to pay public sector costs, its a sign we're all hooped.

Yes, I agree. The money is flowing up and I should have specified private as well.

Public funds (which is why I equate cops to teachers to firefighters) are going down while private profits are at record highs.

The money is there, it hasn't vanished into thin air. It's just lining the pockets of a few while the rest of us slobs suck it up.

Check out!

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