Municipal sector compensation overstated due to errors by the ISQ

Once again, the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) has overestimated the compensation of municipal employees in Quebec. This was brought to light by CUPE following an initial analysis of the report entitled Rémunération des salariés, état et évolution comparés 2017 made public last week.

According to CUPE, the ISQ has overestimated by some 18 percentage points the difference by which overall compensation in the municipal sector exceeds that of Quebec’s public sector. This spread should be approximately 21.5% and not 39.7%.

Strictly on the issue of salary, the ISQ has overestimated by 4.93% the amount by which the salaries of Quebec public service employees trail those of the municipal sector employees. According to verifications by CUPE in the Étude sur la rémunération globale (ERG), the gap is 20.37%, not 25.3%.

CUPE also noted another error in the costing of pension plans. With respect to the Quebec public sector pension plan (the RREGOP), the ISQ uses a cost estimate for current service. For municipal sector pension plans, it adds the cost of current service to amortization payments relating to an actuarial deficit. The cost for current service only would allow for a fair comparison, in which case the municipal sector cost would work out to 8.59% of salary, not 17.6%, an overestimate of 9.01 percentage points.

CUPE’s revised estimates are based on its own 2016 study that used actual data collection rather than surveys with questionable methodology. This study is available here.

“Average overall compensation in the municipal sector is virtually the same as in the federal government, in public enterprises and in the unionized private sector. We feel it is crucial that this be straightened out once and for all to prevent the spread of other mistruths about municipal employees. We certainly must not lose sight of the real problem which is the excessively low pay rates in the Quebec public sector, a situation that has caused huge recruiting problems in public sector services,” explained Denis Bolduc, President of CUPE-Québec.

“The method that the ISQ used is erroneous. The study we conducted last year contained actual data gathered from negotiated collective agreements. In the past 18 months, we drew the problematic issues to the attention of ISQ representatives, but it made the same mistakes again. The evaluation of the cost of salaries, benefits and pension plans is overestimated. Today’s report, quite simply, isn’t reliable,” said Marc Ranger, Quebec Director of CUPE.


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