MPs face uncomfortable topic: Should their salary freeze lift?
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10:15PM EDT
As the Conservative government hashes out a plan to scale back MPs’ pensions, they face another hard decision amidst Canada’s tough economy: ending their salary freeze.
The government is poised to lift the salary freeze for MPs, introduced as an austerity measure in 2010.
MPs earn $158,000 per year and they are expected to get the same pay increases as public servants next year.
The Liberals say they are opposed to the pay hikes at a time when the median income of a Canadian household is dropping.
“It would seem to me a pretty hard sell that MPs should get an increase in their salaries,” Liberal MP Ralph Goodale told CTV News.
The NDP, meanwhile, says the issue of MPs’ salaries should be handled by an independent body.
“We have no trouble seeing them revised,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Wednesday. “We don’t mind looking at these issues as objectively as possible, but we don’t think only MPs should look at them.”
Treasury Board President Tony Clement dodged the uncomfortable topic Wednesday as one of his aides elbowed reporters out of the way on Parliament Hill.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would only say that the salary freeze will be lifted.
“Well, we’ll follow the law,” he told reporters.
Earlier this week, CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported that the federal Conservatives want to raise the age at which MPs can begin collecting their pensions to 65 from 55.
The government also wants to equalize MPs’ and taxpayers’ contributions to the parliamentary pension program. Taxpayers have been contributing $24 for every $1 an MP puts into the plan.
A special bonus pension for a prime minister who serves more than four years is also under review. For Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that amounts to $104,000 on top of his $119,000 MP’s pension.
His office told CTV News Wednesday that he will share in the pain of pension reform.
With a report from CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife