Vancouver City Council has taken a 10% pay reduction due to COVID-19, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

As we’re closing in on the one-year anniversary of COVID-19, it’s disappointing that no elected officials within The Herald’s readership area have suggested a nominal rollback in salary.

In some cases, they will be getting raises.

Just in case our MLAs, MPs, city councils and school boards haven’t noticed, a lot of people are hurting.

Most small businesses are closing or breaking even at best.

For many of us who are working, we’ve seen the bottom line of our paycheques shrink.

There’s also a growing homeless population in the Okanagan.

While CERB funding was much-needed relief for many, it doesn’t replace the comfort of a full-time paycheque.

Little guys can suffer and make sacrifices — not those at the top. At least that’s the message we’re getting.

By the City of Penticton’s own data, almost 70% of local businesses consider the impact of COVID-19 to be “significant” and nearly half believe they can only survive under the present conditions for between one and three months.

City councils in Vancouver and Burnaby are setting a good example. Both have taken voluntary 10% rollbacks in salary for the duration of the pandemic.

These pay reductions won’t balance the books, but at least it’s an acknowledgment to those who are struggling.

Most politicians fail to grasp perception.

In the case of federal and provincial politicians, if the government won’t suggest a pay cut, where’s the official Opposition? If the BC Liberals or federal Conservative want to rebuild their brand, this would be a positive start.

We agree that elected officials have a challenging job. But, it’s one they wanted. They’re not volunteers. There were 25 challenging for a spot on Penticton city council in the last election, along with six mayoral candidates.

It’s unlikely elected officials are as busy as they once were.

There are fewer meetings and the ones that are scheduled are on Zoom where participants can talk from the comfort of their own home. There’s nowhere near the number of special events that there was pre-COVID.

So, to our leaders, here’s your chance to lead by example and show that “we’re all in this together.”

These are, after all, unprecedented times.

—James Miller is managing editor of The Herald. Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca