Taxpayers Federation blasts $13M MLA pension payload
Andrew Weichel, CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, August 30, 2012 6:17PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 30, 2012 8:47PM PDT
A crop of 12 retiring B.C. MLAs will rake in a whopping $13.67 million in pension payouts after they leave office, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The 11 Liberal representatives and single New Democrat, all of whom were elected or reelected in 2009, will collect between $28,500 and $98,175 per year, according to the group.
Jordan Bateman, the federation’s B.C. director, said the huge hauls are made possible because taxpayers chip in $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their own retirement.
“Politicians should have a pension, there’s no doubt about it, but those pensions should be dollar-for-dollar contributions just like most of us in the private sector have,” Bateman said.
“This idea that you need more money from taxpayers to subsidize your pension is just bad form.”
Assuming the politicians will collect pensions until they turn 80, the federation calculated that seven of the retiring Liberals will receive more than $1 million each.
Among them are recently-retired MLA and premier Gordon Campbell, who is set to collect $1.7 million, and Penticton representative Bill Barisoff, who will take in $1.57 million.
Three of the MLAs who have announced their retirement will not receive a pension, because they served less than six years in the legislature.
Liberal MLA John Les, who announced his retirement Thursday, defended the payouts, saying they’re fair if you consider the sacrifices politicians make as public figures.
“You don’t want your former elected officials pushing pencils to fund their CPP,” Les said.
But Les, who was first elected in 2001, is not among the group Bateman considers the worst offenders: the Liberals’ so-called “Class of ’96.”
The group, made of up Campbell, Barisoff, George Abbott, Murray Coell, Barry Penner and Kevin Krueger campaigned against the “gold-plated” pension plan in the 1996 election.
The NDP won, but chose to change the pensions to a dollar-for-dollar model anyhow. But in 2007, Campbell’s government switched back.
“The Liberals flip-flopped,” Bateman said. “They’re the ones who really get under our skin because they ran against the same pension that they’re now walking out the door with.”
Certified financial planner Heidi Pullem said the guaranteed incomes the MLAs are receiving aren’t the reality for most B.C. retirees, many of whom scramble to save money just before retirement.
“Many people are so busy paying off mortgages, putting their kids through school and by the time they get around to putting something away for their nest egg, it’s too late,” Pullem said.
B.C. MLA pensions are by no means the richest in the country, however – at the federal level, taxpayers put in $24 for every dollar contributed by MPs.
The Taxpayers Federation says it wants to see a return to the system implemented by premier Glen Clark in the 1990s -- but current opposition leader Adrian Dix said it’s not likely to happen, even under another NDP regime.
“Those are voted by the legislature in British Columbia, and I don’t expect much change in that,” said Dix, “but I also don’t expect increases.”
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Bhinder Sajan