A taxpayers federation director of B.C., Kris Sims, is questioning why funds meant to “support struggling Canadians” were funnelled into restoring the “gold-plated” salaries of TransLink’s high-level executives.
Last year, its CEO and executives received their full salaries despite announcing in the early days of the pandemic that they’d all be taking a 10 per cent pay decrease.
In April, TransLink laid off nearly 1,500 workers and cut service as ridership dipped by 83 per cent. As a result, TransLink executives announced they would have to take pay cuts.
The Metro Vancouver transportation authority received provincial funding as part of a Provincial Safe Restart agreement in September – $1 billion was shared between TransLink, BC Transit and BC Ferries.
“This package will help cover the substantial net revenue losses we are currently incurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and allow us to keep fares affordable for our customers during this time,” Desmond said at the time.
The immediate announcement did not include any indication that executives would be recouping their pay cuts. The funding allowed TransLink to rescind all cuts to service, layoff notices and cuts to non-union pay, according to the documents the federation obtained.
Black Press Media reached out to TransLink who confirmed that in May it sent subscribed media a news release that indicated the company used a portion of Provincial Safe Restart funds to reinstate executives’ full salaries.
According to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation through the Freedom of Information Act, TransLink’s outgoing figurehead, CEO Kevin Desmond, received a $448,000 salary in 2020.
“Why is the head of a regional bus board for Metro Vancouver paid more than the prime minister of Canada?” Sims questioned.
Desmond was first hired in 2016. He plans to leave his role as CEO in February and move to the United States.
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