In early 2020, the Reform Rabbis of Canada (RROC), Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ), the URJ, and the CCAR commissioned David Baskin to look at the question of how we compare United States and Canadian rabbinic salaries. Baskin is a lawyer and wealth management professional in Toronto with deep ties to our Canadian Reform Jewish community. We are grateful that he threw himself deeply and enthusiastically into this challenging puzzle.
For years, rabbis and congregations have confronted the issue that while both Canada and the United States refer to their respective currencies as “dollars,” the purchasing power of those dollars differs greatly because of their relative value to each other and the structural differences in the social and economic systems of both countries.
This document lays out the areas that should be considered when comparing compensation packages in the U.S. and Canada.
As Baskin points out, “A very common error is taking a U.S. package of, for example, $150,000 USD and saying, well, that’s equal to $200,000 Canadian dollars, so those are comparable salaries. This ignores a lot of nuance and complexity.”
A slightly better approach is to compare after-tax packages, which will vary from state to state and province to province. This is easy to do with online resources. Even better, if more complex, is to look at after-tax and after-healthcare costs. The RPB and the CCAR do not have comprehensive data on U.S. health care benefits, and this can be a major component of the cross-border comparison.
Finally, it is a mistake to ignore “soft” factors such as purchasing power, employment standards, parental leave, human rights protections, and child-related expenses.
This document is a first-of-its-kind and a long-overdue attempt to help both rabbis and congregations make better use of the CCAR Rabbinic Compensation study data and comparisons as it relates Canadian congregations and their rabbis. (The CCAR is currently at work on the next iteration of the compensation study.)
A huge thank you to David Baskin for his diligent work on this project, and to Pekka Sinervo, Sandy Pelly, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi Ron Segal, Rabbi Hara Person, and Rabbi Cindy Enger for their help and support for this project.
Rabbi Dan Moskovitz serves Temple Sholom in Vancouver, BC and also serves as the Chair of Reform Rabbis of Canada. Please visit our website to view the full CCRJ Working Conditions Study 2020.