Danielle In QP, November 7: MLA Remuneration

 
Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday PC MLAs voted themselves an 8 per cent pay raise for all MLAs. Now, the Deputy Premier issued a press release saying that it was a cut, but it’s not; it’s a raise. The full package makes us the second-highest paid provincial MLAs in the country. It doesn’t really matter how you try to mask it. It’s another 8 per cent increase when Alberta is running a $3 billion deficit. The PC caucus may believe it is a cut. No one else does. It’s a raise. Period. I may have missed something, though. Did the Premier campaign on this?

The Speaker: The hon. Deputy Premier.

Mr. Lukaszuk: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition has missed, and she has missed a lot. She missed the fact that this Premier has now eliminated any and all committee pay. She missed the fact that this Premier has eliminated any and all transitional pay. She has also missed the fact that Alberta now is the only province in Canada with no transition pay. She also missed the fact that this Premier eliminated the tax-free allowance. She also misses the fact that this Premier made sure that we don’t get a pension plan, and she misses the fact that before the election MLAs were receiving from taxpayers $170,000. Now they’re receiving $156,000.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to teach the Deputy Premier some basic math because they’re ignoring that in their lame defence. The transition allowance, committee pay, and taxfree allowances were not part of the package that newly elected MLAs receive. For the last six months, up until Tuesday morning, an MLA made about $145,000, but by Tuesday afternoon an MLA made more than $156,000. That’s a raise. Why do they defend it. 

Mr. Lukaszuk: You see, Mr. Speaker, how convoluted they have to get to make this seem confusing. The fact is that it is this Premier that eliminated all those additional benefits as of this election. The fact is that they were receiving from taxpayers $170,000. The fact is that they are now only receiving $156,000. Let me tell you one more thing. Also, the fact is that now they have the opportunity to completely opt out from any RRSP if they choose to do so, and I hope that they do.

Ms Smith: Well, Mr. Speaker, the PC majority wanted this extra money, and now they have it. They used all kinds of manoeuvres to get it, including renaming the transition allowance a departure allowance. Of course, that didn’t work. So now they’re renaming a raise by calling it a cut. That won’t work either. Is this the sort of thing the Premier was referring to when she talked about raising the bar on accountability?

Mr. Lukaszuk: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition may want to get as cute with the numbers as she wishes to. The facts are simple: $170,000 down to $156,000, no additional pay, no hidden pay, no transition allowance, no pension, transparent, and now an added ability for opposition members, if they choose to do so, to opt out from any and all RRSP contributions.