Dear Editor: As an addendum to your editorial this past Saturday I ask this question: What is a member of Parliament worth — monetarily speaking of course?
A MP base salary is $157,731 and if they serve a period of six years they are entitled to a pension at age 55.
Over the past few weeks, both the CBC and CTV have reported on the richness of the MP pension plan. Did you know that for every dollar a MP contributes to their pension, taxpayers contribute $23.30 (source: Canadian Taxpayers Federation)?
The government adds an interest rate of 10.4 per cent a year to the MP “pension fund” which is guaranteed by law. I put pension fund in quotations because no actual stand-alone account even exists (source: Ian Lee-Sprott School of Business at Carleton University).
The end result is that taxpayers pay a whopping $248,668 each year for each MP’s pension.
And that is $90,937 more than the base MP salary.
The taxpayers federation has recently released figures for all MPs who are eligible for a pension. For those MPs who represent our province, here are the highlights in alphabetical order — if they were to retire in 2015:
(1) Scott Andrews — severance $78,866, pension $33,149 — lifetime estimate $1,067,227;
(2) Gerry Byrne — pension $107,183 — lifetime estimate $3,450,711;
(3) Ryan Cleary — severance $78,866;
(4) Judy Foote — pension $34,873 — lifetime estimate $700,208;
(5) Jack Harris — calculated using “buying back in” — pension $38,223, lifetime estimate $562,805;
(6) Peter Penashue — severance $78,866;
(7) Scott Simms — severance $78,866, pension $23,003 — lifetime estimate $740,577.
(These pension numbers are actually higher if the retirement year is 2019.)
In the aforementioned CTV report (Jan. 18), a former Liberal MP — Joe Jordan — stated words to the effect that this type of compensation is needed because MPs give up their careers in the private sector and could face abrupt departure in politics.
Really? Of the young MPs who were recently elected to represent the NDP, what huge salaries and pensions were they walking away from as they sacrificed themselves to become a politician?
Does the Weather Network offer a better remuneration package than the job as MP for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor?
What elaborate careers with such a comparable pension did our other six Newfoundland and Labrador MPs walk away from? Only those wishing to serve the public as a federal politician who are able to do so with their eyes wide open as to the sacrifices they may have to make (either monetarily or otherwise) should step forward.
It is not as if they are making the sacrifice members of the Canadian military did in Afghanistan.
The CBC’s Peter Mansbridge hosts an economic panel on The National and Jim Stanford (economist with the CAW) is one of the panelists. Over the past year Stanford has stated that if you earn over $150,000 a year you are in the top five to 10 per cent of wage earners in Canada. So an MPs salary puts them in this elite group with the taxpayer paying the salary and pension of MPs.
In this country (where the current use of food banks has never been higher) we give politicians so much money they can fill a grocery cart to the brim a hundred times over, yet some families do not have two nickels to rub together.
Maybe the Occupy movement should have started on Parliament Hill.
As an aside: MPs have an annual expense account of about $315,000 a year. Of that amount, how much does it cost taxpayers for the privilege to have their MP wish them a Merry Christmas via a Christmas card blitz? Ask those Canadians using a food bank if they know.
Are MPs justly compensated?
You be the judge.
Bernard Kenny, Corner Brook