Estimated $20M in pensions for retiring B.C. MLAs
VANCOUVER -- Even before John Horgan called a snap election this week, some members of the legislature had announced they wouldn’t be running for office, and now we know that 15 of the politicians leaving office will depart with what critics call “gold-plated pensions.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation crunched the numbers and based on the years worked, the capacities the MLAs served in and an estimated collection period of 20 years, they estimate this year’s outgoing members will collect more than $20 million.
“There’s a big divide and a growing one between those folks and the rest of us. The rest of us are fortunate if an employer does a dollar-for-dollar RRSP. We consider us lucky if we even have one of those,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the CTF.
“These pensions are gold-plated, they’re four-to-one, so that means for every $1 puts towards his or her pension, taxpayers pitch in $4 and that’s an awful lot of money.”
The biggest beneficiaries at the end of this legislative term are two BC Liberal MLAs. Rich Coleman, who was a former cabinet minister, and Linda Reid, the former speaker of the house, will collect six figures a year (an estimated $109,000 and $107,000, respectively) having been in the legislature since 1991. Their estimated lifetime total is $2.6 million each.
The NDP has several cabinet ministers retiring, all of whom were first elected in 2005, who will earn an estimated $80,000 per year for a lifetime total of roughly $2 million; Claire Trevena, Shane Simpson, Carole James and Scott Fraser are essentially tied for third-highest annual pension amounts.
CTV News asked NDP Leader John Horgan about his thoughts on the $20 million estimate at a campaign event in Coquitlam.
"I understand and appreciate how people are rocked by those numbers but I believe we need to have an election to put the politics behind us, I believe we need an election to have a stable government to address those very issues -- those disconnects between what people see in their government in headlines like you’re going to be running today -- and the reality they're seeing in their own lives," he said.
“I appreciate that we'll have an opportunity with a new parliament to talk about those issues and I hope that other campaigns will talk about it as well.”
We also asked the BC Liberals for their approach to MLA pensions but they never responded to our request.
“We hope this is a big wakeup call to all of those folks who are running for any party in this B.C. election, and we hope this means that they’ll wake up and introduce some form of pension reform, a dollar for dollar, similar to an RRSP, even something a little fancier than that. I think most people are OK with that for MLAs,” said Sims.
“We need to be able to hold politicians to account and say 'you know what? this has been too rich for our blood and we can’t afford it right now.'”