Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What is FAir and Equitable?

ONe of the issues that will be discussed when General Council meets next month is clergy compensation. There is a proposal being put forward to seek equity in salaries paid to clergy.

BUt what does equity mean? Doe it mean paying everybody the same? Does it mean that we pay clergy differently depending on how many dependents they have? Or that those with children in university get scholarships for those bills? Does it mean that a definition of a "reasonable" standard of living is created and supplied to clergy? WHat does equal mean?

One of the suggestions is to move to an all-inclusive salary number, with minimums raised to reflect the cost of a housing allowance (by Canadian tax law clergy housing is a non-taxable benefit). BUt housing costs vary wildlyy across the country. ANd for some small charges the difference between providing a manse and increasing salary by $13 000 (one of the numbers suggested) could well mean the difference between full-time ministry and closing the doors (although it could be worked out that the clergy rent the manse from the charge and the cost is more of an in-out thing). Is that the cost of equity?

I am not sure what the best solution is. I actually support the idea of one salary number which includes all allowances (study and housing anyway, travel is probably best left as a reimbursement for mileage system). It just makes it easier to talk about what clergy are paid, and to compare that to other professionals in town. BUt what do we mean by equity? Will this proposal actually provide it?

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