21 retiring MLAs cashing out $21M in pensions: CTF
CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:22PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:22PM PDT
A crop of 21 MLAs retiring this Tuesday are set to collect $20.8 million in gold-plated pension payouts, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The top earner of the group, which includes 17 Liberals and four New Democrats, is former premier Gordon Campbell, who represented the Vancouver-Point Grey riding for 15 years and is expected to cash out $98,175 per year for a lifetime total of $1.7 million.
Nine other Liberals, including Bill Barisoff, George Abbott, Colin Hansen, Kevin Falcon and Pat Bell, are also expected to rake in more than $1 million each, assuming they start collecting at 65 years old and live to be 80.
Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman said the huge pension hauls are made possible because taxpayers chip in $4 for every $1 MLAs contribute to their own retirement.
“It’s one of the most lucrative kinds of pensions packages you can find, and certainly puts them heads and shoulders above the average public,” Bateman said. “I was astonished at just how much money it is.”
Six other retiring MLAs are ineligible for pensions because they served less than six years in the legislature.
But Bateman said taxpayers can expect to be hit with another massive pension tab after the May 14 election, depending on how many incumbent MLAs are unseated.
“They’ll also get pension payouts, they’ll also get transition allowance, and they’ll also get retraining funds,” Bateman said. “For taxpayers, we could be talking about $50-$60 million before these are done.”
Retiring or defeated MLAs can earn their regular MLA salary – $102,000 per year – for anywhere from four to 15 months after leaving office until they find work.
They can also be reimbursed for up to $9,000 for job training.
Bateman said it’s a shame the pensions haven’t been made an election issue, particularly by the NDP, which overhauled B.C.’s MLA pension system to a dollar-for-dollar contribution rate in 1996.
But NDP MLA Carole James told CTV News that pension reform is not currently part of her party’s platform.
“We should be aiming for pensions for all workers. I think that makes sense, and whether we need to look at future adjustments for the pensions, that may be something that we take a look at,” James said.
The former opposition leader added that MLA is “a job where people come out of the workforce, go into politics, and it isn’t always easy getting back into the workforce as you leave.”
The Liberals reversed the pension decision in 2007, and allowed MLAs to buy back years of contributions they missed under the NDP system.
For a full list of the MLAs and how much they stand to earn, visit the Canadian Taxpayers Federation website.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Rob Brown