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Judges get 7% pay increase

Miranda Scotland
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 8, 2012

The Territorial Judicial Remuneration Commission has granted judges a seven-per-cent salary bump, bringing their annual income to about $250,000.

The commission ruled that salaries for territorial judges will increase by $16,328 this year and will be matched to the pace of inflation over the following three years. The pay increase means they will earn less money than only judges in Ontario, Alberta and Yukon.

"We have managed with the work the commission has done in the past to make sure we can recruit a very strong capable bench and we are certain that this salary and complete remuneration package going forward will ensure the same," said commission chair David Gilday.

A lawyer representing the four territorial court judges - chief judge Robert Gorin, Bernadette Schmaltz, Christine Gagnon, and Garth Malakoe - had previously requested that the panel grant them a 13.6-per-cent hike, followed by annual increases tied to the consumer price index for three years after that.

Meanwhile, the Government of the Northwest Territories argued for a $24,000 flat rate increase to the judges' salaries, which would be spread over four years.

The judicial commission, which is an independent body, came to its decision after considering seven different factors, including cost of living, working conditions and judges salaries in other parts of Canada.

Seven per cent may seem high to some, Gilday said, but after considering all the elements the commission found it to be an appropriate amount.

"The salaries we have assigned are completely aligned with the market," Gilday said. "We are not shocked by it. We just realize that there our different jobs in the community that are paid at different levels according to the demands placed on the job and what's appropriate for that occupation."

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny said that he is confident in the commission's decision and feels that it is fair.

"I think one has to not look so much at the percentages but at the fact that it was a process that was used ... the fact that potentially there may have been other variables which makes a seven-per-cent raise justified in this case. I'm not saying that that should be the magic number for all negotiations moving forward," Dolynny said.

"If it was just something else other than that I would definitely have a comment but given all the variables that have presented itself, it's a sound judgment."

Bronwyn Watters, deputy minister of the Department of Justice, also said she was pleased with the commission's decision.

"I would certainly agree that the seven per cent is appropriate based on all the factors that go into determining the compensation level," Watters said. "I have total confidence in the process in terms of the work of the commission, the representation by lawyers from both sides and I feel that certainly the process is objective."

Yellowknifer asked residents if they think a pay increase of seven per cent for NWT judges is fair?

L.B. Able:

"Cut them off because they're paid too much."

Nancy Land:

"It's too high. I think they should get closer to three or four per cent like everybody else."

Alex Lambrecht:

"The MLA and judges raises are not undeserved but it's unfair that the rest of the workforce has to argue through union bodies to get an increase."

Miki Ehrlich:

"I agree with the principle of NWT judges getting paid at a similar rate to judges across Canada."

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