Published in The Prince Arthur Herald
In recent weeks we’ve seen an increased call for federal Members of Parliament to reform their pension plans. The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation called it a “national disgrace” for MP’s to reward themselves with one of the most handsome pensions in
The populist notion that all MP’s hold their fair share considering Canada’s austerity measures to balance the budget seems strong, yet MP’s cannot possibly respond without becoming entrapped as defenders of their own financial interests, or conceding to auctioning away their own pensions.
We must consider the broader picture of the role of an MP, what they do, and whether they’re really fairly paid as it is. Indeed, while it is clear MP’s pensions must be reformed, it is equally as clear that they are underpaid as it is.
Remember, we are already well over 40 hours a week of work and this is only a base level of work. Consider MP’s that are tabling bills; ministers who have ministries to run; Parliamentary Secretaries; Mp’s who are also committee chairs; and so forth.
An MP can easily top 80 hours of work between Monday and Friday alone, then spend several hours in their constituency. Suddenly, $157,731 per year doesn’t seem like so much for what works out to be 4160 hours per year. Indeed, it works out to just $37.91 an hour, yet their duties as a lawmaker, parliamentarian, arbitrator, ombudsman, consultant, and analyst are worth much more.
Compare this salary to those in the private sector, such as Boards of Directors and high-level positions, and you’ll mind they can rake in millions of dollars per year as well as healthy pensions. These are valuable minds, and they are paid for their expertise.
The result of underpaying MP’s is twofold. One is that people do not possess the desire to run for public office. The other is that MP’s are compensated for their work and the issues laid out above by receiving a handsome pension.
Are there flaws in this system? Absolutely. Gilles Duceppe, the man who made a career out of attempting to break up
The answer, following the C.D. Howe Institute, is to raise salaries if we’re going to cut pensions. This should be done by an independent arbitrator reporting to the Board of Internal Economy, just until the NDP inevitably complains the arbitrator costs too much.
Reforms to MP’s pensions must be made, but we must not forget that we are already underpaying our nation’s lawmakers as it is.