HSAA objects to Sunshine List

EDMONTON - Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) President Elisabeth Ballermann raised concern in a letter to Minister Kathleen Ganley about the Alberta Government's proposed Bill 5 - the Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act. In that letter, Ballermann cited confidentiality, privacy and accountability as fundamental concepts to HSAA members who are over 24,000 skilled health-care professionals from across Alberta.

"HSAA members are proud of the service that we provide for Albertans and do not apologize for being fairly compensated for the expertise that we possess to ensure their safety," said Ballermann. "Why we should be subjected to being named to a list that has been used by some groups for public shaming is beyond me."

Ballermann outlined in her letter to the Minister four main objections to the legislation:
The so-called "sunshine list" would violate the privacy of our members and jeopardize their personal safety. Many of our members work with at-risk individuals and in small, rural centres, where publishing their names could put them at risk.

Most of the public servants who would be named as a result of this legislation are governed by collective agreements, the details of which - including wage grids - are already public. Attaching names to already published salaries seems nothing more than an exercise to placate the right wing at the expense of hard-working individuals.

Simply publishing the gross salaries of individuals without providing context, will fail to demonstrate that the figure includes overtime hours that our members are required to work. We do not feel that these workers should be shamed because of a failure on the part of employers to staff at appropriate levels, something for which we have been advocating for many years.

And finally, the ability of "sunshine lists" to do what they are presumably meant to do (i.e., suppress wages in an attempt to curb government spending), has been proven to be a fallacy. In fact, evidence shows that they drive wages up as lesser-compensated individuals see what other workers earn and then demand the same as has been shown in a study by Professor Rafael Gomez of the University of Toronto.

"HSAA supports the concepts of accountability and transparency," Ballermann added. "We believe both of those standards are already met under current reporting structures. Attaching personal information about individuals to the salaries they earn has the effect of an unwarranted invasion of privacy, exposing dedicated public-sector workers to personal security risks and making them pawns in a political tug of war, which can never be appropriate."

Ballermann is calling for the government to re-examine its desire to institute a sunshine list register.

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Elisabeth Ballermann, president, cell 780-991-1274
Jerry Toews, executive liaison, cell 587-338-1865