Opinion

CVRD's management by FOI requests disturbing

The regional district's decision to protect new senior managers' wages from the public is disturbing.

The News Leader Pictorial was told a range of salaries of various new hires making $75,000 or more — including incoming CAO Brian Carruthers — but we were denied their exact wages paid by local taxpayers.

Instead, we were told citizens can file freedom-of-information requests to get those exact earnings, or wait until spring when the Cowichan Valley Regional District's legally mandated Statement of Financial Information is issued.

We hope the CVRD isn't using privacy reasons to erect hoops around senior management wages after recent public protests about their swelling salaries.

We legally and morally respect and understand personal privacy laws, but we weren't requesting managers' medical records, or other personal information.

Wages of all public servants, regardless of title, should be available on demand to the taxpayers who pay them.

If public employees don't like that, they can seek work in the private sector where wages are mostly confidential.

But the CVRD is not a private company. Taxpayers own its lovely Ingram Street building, and pay all folks working there.

The public has the right to know everything about how their precious tax dollars are spent.

That right is already being trampled concerning CVRD non-disclosure — forcing other FOI applications — of taxpayer severance packages for former managers Bob McDonald and Dave Leitch. Lawyers should not be running the CVRD.

Anything less than timely disclosure of public financial data simply fuels suspicion about why figures are seemingly being withheld.

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