NWB’s top job pays only $97,000
From the information you were provided recently regarding the affairs of the Nunavut Planning Commission, you derive, in your June 10, 2005 editorial, conclusions on the other institutions of public government.
For example, you state that “the highly-touted board system at the heart of that lie now smells like a whorehouse on a Sunday morning,” and “Nunavut’s public government management boards may be so disempowered, they don’t even have the legal right to control their own employees.”
While I am certainly not privy to the situation with the Nunavut Planning Commission and have no authority to comment on it, I am compelled to provide some clarification on the Nunavut Water Board (NWB) – one of several Institutions of Public Government created pursuant to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
In its almost 10 years of existence, the NWB has been actively promoting and implementing a water licensing process that meets the highest degree of transparency and accountability, while being efficient, predictable, timely and fair to all parties.
As per its implementing legislation, Board decisions are final and can only be set aside by the Federal Court of Canada. While the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) approves all “type A” licenses – these are licenses for large projects such as the Jericho Diamond Mine, for example – issued by the NWB, he does not have any authority to change any term or condition imposed by the Board.
If the Minister rejects a type A licence issued by the Board, he must provide written reasons and can only ask the NWB to reconsider its decision. Most licenses issued by the NWB are Type B, over which the Minister of INAC has no authority. Once devolution eventually occurs, the powers of the Minister of INAC will be delegated to the Government of Nunavut, but the NWB will remain self-governing.
The NWB is far from being disempowered when it comes to managing its affairs. The NWB may employ officers and employees and engage the services of advisers and experts as are necessary for the proper conduct of its business, and may fix the terms and conditions of their employment or engagement and pay their remuneration.
The NWB has put in place policies and procedures governing its administration, together with a code of conduct and ethics largely based on national guidelines. On the financial administration side, the NWB meets or exceeds all applicable regulations, policies or guidelines, as demonstrated in its annual audits performed by an independent accounting firm.
With respect to the remuneration of its staff, all salary scales mirror those of the federal public service and can be accessed by the public from the Treasury Board of Canada website.
Its highest paid employee, who has two graduate degrees and over 20 years of experience in the field, of which nine are with the NWB, is classified as EX-1 and had a salary of $97,000 in the 2004-05 fiscal period.
As for the remuneration of the Chair, it varies from year to year depending on workload: it reached a total of $85,838 for the same fiscal period.
The Minister of INAC – or any other federal or territorial minister for that matter – has no authority whatsoever over the conditions of employment and remuneration of NWB officers and employees.
Yes, I am very happy to report that, contrary to your editorial, the board system does not “stink like a whorehouse on a Sunday morning,” whatever that means. The NWB is well-managed, and is fully accountable to the public.
Philippe di Pizzo
Nunavut Water Board
Editor’s note: This letter was edited for length, but we made every effort to retain its key points.