Scarce resources leave little room for bonuses

No place for bonus system in an agency working with vulnerable people

The decision by the Liberal government to stop paying performance bonuses to senior managers at Community Living BC provides a damning glimpse into an agency that has lost touch with its primary purpose.

CLBC’s website says it exists to help “adults with developmental disabilities and their families achieve goals and live the life they want.” But recent decisions by CLBC to close group homes and cut services for mentally challenged adults suggest the only people achieving their goals are those managers earning bonuses. It’s doubtful the bonus benchmarks include happy developmentally disabled adults living in a supportive environment.

To its credit, CLBC has never hidden its bonus program. It’s spelled out in documents readily available on its website; vice-presidents can earn up to 10 per cent of their base annual salary in bonuses and the CEO is eligible for a 15 per cent incentive. Last year more than $36,000 was paid to three vice-presidents, and another 60 CLBC employees made almost $300,000 in bonuses. The incentive program started in 2005.

But it finally attracted the spotlight when families started to complain of adult developmentally disabled children being squirrelled away in hospital wards and seniors care homes because there was no longer a place in a group home, or being moved from a group home in which they had thrived for years because it was being closed.

The resulting furor cost Harry Bloy his cabinet post as social development minister and Rick Mowles’ job as CEO of CLBC.

Adults with developmental disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in society. But with proper support and a stable environment, they can make valuable contributions and thrive.

The bonus system might work in business, but in an agency working with vulnerable people it’s definitely not “family-first.”

— Burnaby News Leader