Legislative Report (13 June 2007)

Our Highest Paid Crown Exec Does Not Even Live Here

“And I think that anybody who earns 80 or $90,000 a year in this province doesn’t need to earn that kind of money, and I’m not afraid to put those views on the public record."
- Pat Atkinson, May 14, 1992

Comparing salaries has probably been around as long as organized workplaces and paycheques. It’s just human nature to be curious about how you stack up with others.

And while Pat Atkinson’s opinion about what is an acceptable salary has probably changed in the last 15 years, I’m sure even she is questioning information that came to light this past week.

Each year, the Crown Investments Corporations provides a list of who got money, and how much they received. This is entirely appropriate, since the Crowns belong to you and you have a right to know how your money is being spent.

There are some large salaries, and that’s appropriate as well. Corporations like SaskTel are involved in highly competitive industries and need to attract the best possible people. However, the latest list shows that something is amiss.

The highest paid executive in Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations doesn’t live in Saskatchewan. He lives in Vancouver. Jim Pitt made $313,034 in 2006, $80,000 more than the president of SaskTel, Robert Watson.

Mr. Pitt is president of SaskTel’s expansion division. This division is what used to be Navigata before it was folded into the main phone company. Navigata was supposed to make vast amounts of money by selling voice-over-internet-protocol products to consumers across Canada.

However, there was a big problem: instead of making money, it lost at least $72 million of your dollars. I say at least, because it could be more. We don’t know, because now, SaskTel does not report separately on Navigata’s financial status. No one knows whether it has lost more money or is now making money.

So, here is the question we are left with: The highest paid Crown corporation executive is making even more than the man he reports to at SaskTel. Yet, we don’t know if the division he was supposed to ‘turn around’ has been turned around or not. If Mr. Pitt has provided a firm strategic direction to a train wreck of an enterprise that in 2004 had 13 different business plans in a five month period - maybe he’s worth it. If Mr. Pitt has turned mounting losses into actual profits, he probably deserves to be the highest paid Crown employee in Saskatchewan. But, if Navigata continues to lose lots of money with no end in sight, maybe he’s not.

The problem is we’ll just never know.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

Past Legislative Reports