Taxpayers in British Columbia will be footing an estimated $27 million bill for provincial MLAs who retired prior to the Oct. 24 election or who lost their seats in that vote, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) estimates.
“While we wish these defeated politicians well as they chart a new career course, taxpayers need to know the cost of these pensions,” federation B.C. director Kris Sims said. “These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers.
“Premier John Horgan needs to reform the MLA pension plan,” Sims said.
But, at least one MLA, recently retired Liberal Ralph Sultan, takes issue with the federation’s numbers.
“No, no, no. I don’t know how they concocted those numbers,” he said.
The federation estimated Ralph Sultan, a former cabinet minister, would receive a pension of $84,000 annually.
Not so, Sultan said, explaining he gets$1,000 a month.
He said he’s complained to the public service agency about it. “They said, ‘no one ever checked with us.’”
Sultan, 87, went into politics at age 68 and considers the work a privilege.
“I certainly didn’t go into it with the idea that I’d get a big pension,” Sultan said. “Far from it.”
MLA pensions are determined by taking the highest earning years of the MLA, and the number of years of work is also included in the calculation. The annual pension payments are capped at 70% of the highest-earning year.
Sims said taxpayers contribute an estimated $4 for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans.
“Most Canadians are lucky if their employer matches a dollar-for-dollar RRSP,” Sims said.
In addition to these pensions, MLAs who are not returning to the legislature are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while seeking new jobs as well as $9,000 if they need skills training.
Those salaries can be found here.
Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett said in 2018 that a $132,000 severance package program was taken advantage of by most of the 25 MLAs who didn’t return to Victoria after the May 2017 provincial election.
Any numbers are, however, only estimates as much of what goes on in the Legislature such as pensions is shielded from public eyes under exemptions in provincial freedom of information and privacy laws.
Estimated pension totals for defeated MLAs:
- Mary Polak, MLA and former cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year and $1.9 million lifetime;
- Jane Thornthwaite, MLA – estimated $45,000 per year and $1.1 million lifetime;
- Laurie Throness, MLA – estimated $28,000 per year and $702,000 lifetime;
- Jordan Sturdy, MLA – estimated $28,000 per year and $702,000 lifetime;
- John Martin, MLA – estimated $28,000 per year and $695,000 lifetime.
- Sam Sullivan, MLA AND former cabinet minister – estimated $28,000 per year and $680,000 lifetime.
- Marvin Hunt, MLA – estimated $27,000 per year and $511,000 lifetime.
- Joan Isaacs, MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
- Jas Johal, MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
Other federation estimated pension totals for retiring MLAs:
- Linda Reid, MLA and former speaker – estimated $108,000 per year and $2.6 million lifetime.
- Rich Coleman, MLA and former cabinet minister – estimated $101,000 per year and $2.4 million lifetime.
- Claire Trevena, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $87,000 per year and $2.1 million lifetime;
- Shane Simpson, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $87,000 per year and $2.1 million lifetime;
- Scott Fraser, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $87,000 per year and $2.1 million lifetime;
- Carole James, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $87,000 per year and $2.1 million lifetime;
- John Yap, MLA and former cabinet minister – estimated $67,000 per year and $1.6 million lifetime;
- Michelle Mungall, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $64,000 per year and $1.5 million lifetime;
- Doug Donaldson, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $64,000 per year and $1.5 million lifetime;
- Andrew Weaver, MLA and former Green Party leader – estimated $34,000 per year and $826,000 lifetime;
- Judy Darcy, MLA and cabinet minister – estimated $40,000 per year and $700,000 lifetime;
- Darryl Plecas, speaker – estimated $40,000 per year and $760,000 lifetime;
- Donna Barnett, MLA – estimated $41,000 per year and $358,000 lifetime;
- Linda Larson, MLA – estimated $26,000 per year and $338,000 lifetime, and;
- Tracy Redies, MLA – ineligible due to fewer than six years in office.