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Sunshine list casts doubt on Premier's claim of fiscal restraint

EDMONTON, AB (February 3, 2014): Premier Alison Redford has dramatically increased the salary and perks for her top political staffers showing her claim of "fiscal restraint" is more rhetoric than reality, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today. The Alberta Public Disclosure of Salary and Severance list, otherwise known as the Sunshine List, reveals big increases and lucrative side benefits for senior staff precisely at a time when Redford’s public message has been about restraint. 

Chief of Staff Farouk Adatia’s annual salary of $316,274 is a 20 per cent increase over his predecessor Stephen Carter’s salary of $264,576 and almost 50 per cent more than the $212,225 that Premier Klein’s last Chief of Staff made in 2007. Last September, Redford’s Director of Communications Stefan Baranski received a 16 per cent pay hike, going from $179,311 to $207,829 annually. In addition to the salary hikes, Adatia receives the same $1,930 a month housing allowance afforded to MLAs and both Adatia and Baranski receive $7,969.26 a year towards financing a vehicle.  Also of note, in his original 2012 contract, which was removed from the Sunshine List on Friday night (see background information), Baranski received $1,800 a month in personal travel expenses to Toronto. “On one hand, the Premier preaches fiscal restraint and living within our means, and on the other she rewards her senior staff with ever increasing pay and perks,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said. “It’s just another example of this Premier saying one thing and doing another.” Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson said the Sunshine List is necessary for transparency and accountability to Albertans but does reveal an overarching problem in the 43 year old PC government. “The Sunshine List is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, it does confirm an ongoing pattern of unrestrained spending on pay and perks,” Anderson said. “While the government is neglecting critical services and priority programs for vulnerable Albertans and while front line staff are being told to tighten their belts, clearly taxpayer dollars are being used instead to reward political insiders and pad the pockets of political appointees and executives. Fiscal restraint has to start from the top and the government must show it can put needs before wants.” BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Baranski-Disclosure-Before-5-Pm-Friday-January-31-2014-13-Pages Baranski-Disclosure-Monday-Feb-3-2014-8-Pages