Most MHAs are paid thousands extra for side jobs

James McLeod
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Nearly every member of the Tory caucus has some extra job that they’re working on the side — and most of them are getting paid tens of thousands of dollars extra at the taxpayers’ expense.

Confederation Building. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram


Out of a caucus of 32 members, nearly half of the PC MHAs are in cabinet — 14 in all — plus Premier Tom Marshall, Speaker Ross Wiseman and Attorney General Felix Collins.

All of those politicians earn extra money on top of their base salary of $95,000 salary for MHAs, and they’re not the only ones.

Throw in the parliamentary secretaries — four of them — who make half of a minister’s salary on top of their base pay.

And then there’s other little odd jobs around government — caucus chair, whip, deputy chair of committees and others. Each of those jobs pays an extra $13,517.

Two MHAs are off running for the party leadership — Paul Davis and Steve Kent — which leaves just four members of the Tory caucus who are just backbenchers without anything else going on.

John Dinn, one of the four, likes it that way, although he didn’t really want to talk to The Telegram about his salary.

“I don’t want to go talking about that, because you’re going to piss off people,” he said. “I’m happy where I’m at, and I’m happy doing what I do, and I do what I do because I do what I do because I like doing what I do.”

Dinn said he’s got other things of his own going on, even if they’re not taxpayer-funded activities.

“If I have any kind of other position like minister or anything like that, it’d spoil my life. I enjoy a life outside of politics. I hunt. I grow a few vegetables. Sure, that’s all gone, right, if you’re at anything else,” he said.

Calvin Peach, Eli Cross and Ray Hunter, the other three Tory MHAs who don’t have any special roles that earn more pay, declined to do interviews.

Tom Hedderson, parliamentary assistant to the premier, said his job as MHA is simply to represent the constituents of his district. If he’s doing work outside of that, it’s reasonable there should be other compensation.

“For example, for speaking engagements I’m first choice for the premier if he can’t be at an event and wants to be represented at an event,” he said. “As part of the staff of the premier’s office, I’m involved in meetings, discussions, advice and so on and so forth.”

That role pays $27,000 on top of the base MHA salary.

The Tories have a lot of people earning extra pay, but proportionally, the NDP caucus has even more.

Each of the three people in the caucus has some salary bump — Lorraine Michael gets money for being leader, Gerry Rogers is caucus chair and George Murphy is party whip.

Nobody from the NDP was available to explain what caucus chairperson does in a caucus of three people, or why a whip is necessary to keep track of those MHAs.

Deputy Government House Leader Keith Hutchings said these roles are standard for parliamentary governments.

“They’ve been in place for some time. At some point in the future (if) the House of Assembly or the government of the day wanted to look at that in regards to what they could do differently, I mean, that’s certainly open for a discussion at some point in the future,” he said. “I think the positions now as established are well established in tradition. They play a key role in the running of the legislature.”

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball defended the jobs that members of his caucus do. Apart from his leader’s salary, the Liberals have a house leader, deputy house leader, caucus chair, whip and chair of the public accounts committee. Each of those jobs pays upwards of $13,000 on top of the base MHA salary.

For years, Ball has talked about changing the structure of the legislature, though. He wants fewer MHAs and more active committees.

“I believe that the province is ready for that when it comes to representation,” he said.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Tory, NDP

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Recent comments

  • keith
    August 08, 2014 - 13:37

    must be a slow news day, this is the normal for any profession, why should politics be any different

  • Scott
    August 08, 2014 - 13:25

    What are people complaining about? Like Randy Simms would say, if we want the ( Brightest and Smartest) . we would have to pay. But Randy forgot to " Mention" are we going to be paying people's, with a one head coin, or a double head's coin?

  • Glenn Stockley
    August 08, 2014 - 12:58

    i don't know why you refer to this as working "on the side" which implies outside employment….they are supposedly performing extra duties above and beyond their role as mha's working for the people of newfoundland….it would be more appropriate to refer to it as overcompensation if that is your issue….i know of very very few newfoundlanders who perform extra duties for their employers without appropriate extra compensation…...

    • ask
      August 08, 2014 - 13:49

      Ask govt employees. They perform extra work without the extra pay. I did.

    • gord
      August 08, 2014 - 21:54

      Please visit a Gov't dept office of your choice and if you can't find a supervisor or manager who is saddled with extra duties for no extra compensation then you are not being honest. MHAs have the cream while the working management get the spoils.

  • Dolf
    August 08, 2014 - 12:56

    They're all bloody parasites

    • gord
      August 08, 2014 - 21:56

      No sir, not "all"

  • Laughable
    August 08, 2014 - 12:08

    Look like we have two class's of people stealing from the public for doing nothing, One's on social services who sits home all day. and our MHA's. Yes Sir we got its made.

  • Coin
    August 08, 2014 - 12:07

    I don't know if they're over paid but lets keep in mind that these are not 9-5 jobs working 5 days a week. Now, on the other side of the coin we have to ask are they qualified for these jobs (probably not) and remember the platinum pension they receive for as little as 5 years of work.

  • Jim
    August 08, 2014 - 11:20

    Please don't forget their expense accounts. They are not questioned or accountable for those. Hence, the wine purchases by a former government member, etc. The sky is the limit on the expense accounts... entertainment (meals, booze, taking out friends), car usage, very often home office space, travel, etc. The salaries are insignificant in comparison.

  • Susan
    August 08, 2014 - 11:17

    @ Kim, Question. Would John Dinn pay back that $ 10.000.00 he receive for doing nothing? Now that would be honest. Wouldn't you agree to that Kim?

    • kim
      August 08, 2014 - 14:00

      That's just a part of compensation for him doing way beyond , for his community. He is one of the few that you can call on for just about anything. So dishonest I would say NO. Some compensation for doing way beyond his duties. Helping people, like some of the MHA'S wouldn't hear tell of. That man can be reached anytime day or night. All that he has done 10 Thousand wouldn't put a dent in repayment.

    • Dolf
      August 08, 2014 - 15:11

      Hey Kim, it's why they command $95,000.00 per annum. All those calls he answers "after hours" are guaranteed votes next time around. People are some stunned!

    • Matt
      August 08, 2014 - 20:05

      Stunned yes I'd say some people are. I am totally in agreement with Kim . If there were more around like Mr. Dinn . This province would be a better one. The bitterness shown here against a man that's for the people , is ignorance. When I seen myself, when all other politicians , were running for parties. They used governments money to Campaign. I seen with my own eyes homemade sign's made by Mr. Dinn. He used his own money. So Give the man a break. He has always for the people. He always can be reached and is willing to lend a hand. Show bitterness and ignorance for those that are in hiding and can't be reached. Mr. Collins is one of those people that Mr. Dinn takes up the slack for, Mr. Collins is like a ghost. He's never reachable and unwilling to help. So in actual fact Mr. Dinn that 10 grand you deserve Sir. For all the hard work and picking up the slack .

  • Robert
    August 08, 2014 - 11:16

    Off With Their HEADS!

  • Kim
    August 08, 2014 - 11:07

    For those of you who don't know John Dinn, and his role in his community. I don't think you should JUDGE. John Dinn don't hide when he's called upon to help out with any issues, in his community. Unlike other MHA'S. He is always there to help out. People in the community , can't say enough kind words about him. Knowing him personally for years. He's number one in my books, and people whom I spoke to in the community say the same. If they were all like John Dinn , honest, to the point, and genuinely and caring. OUR GOVERNMENT would be much better off. There are people in Government just to line their pockets. John Dinn was always there to help. He's one that you can call on day or night. He will always answer your call , and always there to step in to help out. I commend him on a job well done !!!!

  • Susan
    August 08, 2014 - 10:43

    So many in our province, going without, just to be rob, by the people's we elect to represent us in Government, Has for Mr Ball, saying to many MHA's. Man would sell his " Soul " for the big seat. Because he isn't going to do anything about all those extra MHA's were paying for " Nothing"

  • Marshall Art
    August 08, 2014 - 10:33

    What other job pays a six figure salary to people who might just as well have the IQ of Forrest Gump while acting like spoiled brats in romper room , aka the House of Ass.? No wonder so many of these jokers were 'unavailable' to do interviews regarding their salaries. Perhaps the interviewer should have given them the option of wearing bags over their heads. John Dinn expressed himself very elequently, no doubt on behalf of his esteemed colleagues, when he stated, ' I'm happy doing what I do and I do what I do because I like doing what I do and I'm happy where Im at'. Forrest Gump would be proud.

  • Nichol
    August 08, 2014 - 10:07

    Sorry, I made an error in my previous post. Ontario has 13,000,000 population for 107 members. That's 121,000 people per member.

  • Fred
    August 08, 2014 - 10:03

    Don't forget the $$$ spent on travel for these MHA's. Our MHA racked up $20,000 in travel and meals last year. And as we know with any travel allowances it only takes 30% of the travel claim to actually pay for the incurred gas and meal costs. The other 70% is in the pocket ! The answer is less MHA's. Seems MHA's are always comparing ourselves with other jurisdictions but when it comes to comparing the number of MHA's with Ontario for example, other jurisdictions matter not. I will vote for the party that promises to reduce the number of MHA's down to 30. MP's represent 70-80 thousand constituents....MHA's can represent 40,000 at least, not just 10,000.....

    • Nichol
      August 08, 2014 - 12:09

      Fred, the representation numbers compared to other jurisdictions have to matter to NL. How else do we get Government to change to something reasonable? Our grossly absurd numbers of MHA's is another 'first' that NL does not want to have. Actually, Federal MP's represent an average of 114,000 constituents each (approx.), based on 35 million. In terms of NL MHA's representing 40,000 each, that would result in only 13 MHA's. That would be a hard sell for any party, given the current size of the House of Assembly....but, I agree, not unreasonable. I still think a comparable ratio to nearby Provinces is the place to start, with a long term strategy to get it down more.

  • Geoff Chaulk
    August 08, 2014 - 09:59

    Those of us who worked as professional bureaucrats had 'other duties as assigned' in our job descriptions, so new files, on big issues, could be added to your job without necessarily increasing one's salary. And like these politician's we were already well paid for our work. The sense of 'entitlement' by politicians - across the country, and of any stripe - is beyond belief, unethical in many cases and just makes them smell really bad.

  • Nichol
    August 08, 2014 - 09:33

    On the point of MHA's having other jobs in the House, NL is no different than any Government with a Parliamentary democracy, including our Federal Government. Rightly or wrongly, that is the way our style of Government operates. Maybe we do need to look at the number of these jobs some MHA's have. Mr. Ball is 100% correct when he says we need fewer MHA's. If you look at the numbers, Province by Province, NL is grossly over represented, with 48 MHA's for a population of 520,000. This works out to 10,300 people per MHA. If we look at the population of Ontario, the largest Province, they have 107 Members representing a population of 8.1 million. That is 75,000 population per Member. NS has 51 members for a population of 921,000...18,000 people per Member. Those comparisons alone tell you that we have a problem, and it is not geography. Northern Ontario is larger and has more isolation than Labrador. What is the correct number of MHA's for NL? At one member for every 10,300 people (including every man,woman and child), how many actually communicate or interact in any way with an MHA? I think we should at the minimum, set a goal to reach the same ratio as NS, which would give us 28 members...that's at least a start. The size of the House of Assembly cannot be about job creation.

  • Mike
    August 08, 2014 - 09:13

    Hey Kristie, or whatever your real name is, your a fraud! Your the reason this provinces' leadership is nonexistent. Your the type of self-serving, manipulative individual that has created such a disgusting mess in our government.......with everyone on-the-take! I 'm sure that your very proud of yourself. Congrats, your also the reason so few take the time to vote.

  • Muggins
    August 08, 2014 - 08:57

    These people are paid a very good wage supposedly to attract the best candidates. A social experiment gone amiss. What we end up with are mediocre opportunists who see politics as a way to line their own pockets to the detriment of the public purse. Unfortunately it will not change because the rot runs deep, & has infected all three parties.

  • jim
    August 08, 2014 - 08:51

    what else do we expect from our politicians, most are there to fill there pockets and get there gold plated pensions

  • EDfromRED
    August 08, 2014 - 08:50

    The PC Party are puppets for rich elites whose only concern is getting themselves and their stooges richer...will Bill-29 covering it all up for them. Nalcor say's jump and give us unfettered access to taxpayer $, and the PC Party asks "Can we lick your boots clean too, pretty please"? What a pitiful joke this crowd has become.

  • Ed
    August 08, 2014 - 08:42

    Are you sure that you quoted John Dinn correctly? He is happy doing what he does, but what does he ""? There is a lot of "do do" in that quote of yours John Dinn.

  • Me
    August 08, 2014 - 08:15

    I understand why Dinn doesn't want to talk about it. A few years ago he was paid 10,000 for being on a committee that didn't meet. A lot of these positions are titles, just titles. Some of the extra pay is equal to some civil servant's pay so the politician is getting paid for 2 full time jobs, and we know they don't work that hard. To Kristie who said they should get a lot more money, you don't know politicians.

  • Me
    August 08, 2014 - 08:08

    I understand why Dinn doesn't want to talk about it. A few years ago he was paid 10,000 for being on a committee that didn't meet. A lot of these positions are titles, just titles. Some of the extra pay is equal to some civil servant's pay so the politician is getting paid for 2 full time jobs, and we know they don't work that hard. To Kristie who said they should get a lot more money, you don't know politicians.

  • Gerry
    August 08, 2014 - 06:42

    What crookery, What crookery, What crookery, we thought the spending scandal was all in the past, now this!! I wonder who looks after the premiers shoe laces

  • Kristie Hannity
    August 08, 2014 - 05:12

    These men and women should get a lot more money for giving up their lives in noble sacrifice to the greater good of community, province and country. God bless you MHAs you have earned it all and then some, I am praying for you all to not have their character-assassinated by the hateful people with a chip on their shoulder who grow more and more disgusting as they blame the hard-working politicians of our well-run government, they refuse to work, refuse to accept responsibility for their own lives or children’s future, grow more materialistic and demanding of perfect jobs, perfect EI, perfect hospitals, perfect schools and perfect roads. A degenerate culture of backward ignorance is attempting to scapegoat the only people with the guts to affect change - our brave, intelligent, dedicated MHAs. Ball wants to reduce the amount of MHAs and plunge us back into the dark ages of anarchist merchant-adventure but I say add as many as we can so that they are an example to average people of how a human being should present themselves in a civilized society. We need more grounded intelligent dedicated people like Gerry Rogers and Terry French and not active committees of local riff raff mercenaries of self-concern. The comments section needs to be fixed in this paper. Too many anonymous cowards just criticising for the sake of criticising. I've lived all over the world and can attest to the fact that Newfoundlanders are the hardest people to please because they enjoy misery like an old dog treasures it's dirty blanket. You can't sepreate them from their victim status since confederation and 60 years of it has manifested as a paranoid interpretation of politics that drives people away from seeking office. It is a miracle that we have so many good members willing to serve and sacrifice even if the masses do not support or appreciate the earnest effort of our finest citizens.

    • Gerry
      August 08, 2014 - 08:07

      Oh, my God

    • guy incognito
      August 08, 2014 - 10:19

      Not sure if serious

  • Crazy
    August 08, 2014 - 04:48

    Just plain FRAUD. No other word for its.

  • V myers
    August 08, 2014 - 04:38