08 March 2016

Open Data #nlpoli

James McLeod has released the data he compiled to produce his Saturday story on the number of people in the provincial public service who make a salary of more than $100, 000 a year.

What James has done is follow the Open Data policy the former Conservative government announced but never implemented.  The new crowd running the place are understandably a bit preoccupied at the moment but Open Data is an idea they should latch onto.  Not only does it save money, but it also puts a pile of government data in the public where folks can make good use of it.  If you want to support innovation, making information readily available is one of the best things any government can do.

McLeod submitted a series of access to information requests to the core government departments as well as the larger agencies and Crown corporations. Some responses, like the one for Memorial University, is pending. McLeod put all of the bits and pieces into a spreadsheet and that’s what he has offered up to the public to do with as they wish.

Some folks have had a bit of a problem with McLeod’s story.  They’ve tried to dismiss it by comparing the figures he has with some others.  Nothing big or strange in Newfoundland and Labrador, so the claim goes.

Well, not exactly.

What McLeod has put together is information that gives lots of insight into the comparative local context of these salaries. 

Take College of the North Atlantic.  In 2005, CNA had 2261 employees with three who made more than $100,000 a year.  A decade later,  CNA had 2107 employees, of which 69 made over $100,00 a year in salary each.  Fewer employees but an enormous jump in the number making big salaries.  So much for a place that has been “cut to the bone” as one CNA employee moaned on Twitter last week.

Or Nalcor.  1146 employees with 50 making more than $100,000 a year in 2005.  A decade later, and with a batch of new subsidiaries, Nalcor has 1460 employees with over 500 of them making the big bucks.  The work force went up 27% or so.  The folks at the top end of the pay scale jumped in number by 1032%.

Look at the health regions in the province and you see some different things.  Central health has about 10% more employees but a 300% increase in the number of people making $100,000 or more.  At Eastern Health, the number of employees has doubled in the past decade.  The number of folks making more than the $100,00 threshold for the sunshine list went from 71 to 564.

The ratio of big salaries to total employees was running roughly the same in 2005:  something around one to one and a half percent.  The same was true in 2015, except that the ratio was now larger.  Big salariied employees were about four percent of all employees.

It’s hard to look away from the massive increase in Eastern Health total employment, though.  It’s way bigger than in the other health regions.  The 2005 consolidation was supposed to save money.  It didn’t.  Just looking at it quickly, it looks like the consolidation may have increased the rate of change.