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The Wildrose Caucus Foundation: Putting the pay hike to better use

EDMONTON, AB (March 18, 2013): Today, the Wildrose Official Opposition announced the creation of the Wildrose Caucus Foundation – a registered fund that will make annual charitable donations using the extra pay MLAs received as a result of last year’s 8% MLA pay hike. Shortly after the November 2012 PC-approved MLA pay hike – which saw annual MLA salaries increase from $145,000 a year to $156,000 – the 17-member Wildrose caucus unanimously agreed to set up a charitable fund and donate their increase in pay. 

The Foundation is co-chaired by Wildrose MLAs Kerry Towle and Bruce McAllister and directed by a committee of six MLAs. The first grant recipient will be announced later this week. “Our caucus was united in our opposition to the MLA pay hike the PCs brought in last year and we are united in deciding to do something about it,” Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said. “I am proud of every single Wildrose MLA for stepping up and doing the right thing and I look forward to being able to help out hard-working charities that do invaluable work in our communities.” Smith implored MLAs from all sides of the Legislature who didn’t agree with the PC pay hike to refuse the pay hike, donate it to charity, or contribute it to the Wildrose Caucus Foundation. “We believe this money was never rightfully ours. We are simply giving it back to the front lines. We hope others decide to join us,” Smith said. The Wildrose Caucus Foundation will make annual donations to charitable organizations that deliver services in priority areas such as health care, education and justice. “We will evaluate areas in which the government is failing to provide adequate services and make our donations accordingly,” Towle said. “We believe this is a constructive way to use money that we believe no MLA should be receiving.” McAllister, who grilled Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk on the pay hike the Legislature last fall, said Albertans elected their representatives knowing they would be paid at a certain level and that level was increased by a PC-dominated committee just months later. “When I got elected, I knew I would be making $145,000 a year. Now, I am making $156,000 a year. That is a pay hike no matter how you try and spin it,” McAllister said. “It’s a pay hike I and my colleagues didn’t campaign on and didn’t ask for and that’s why we are giving it back. It’s just the right thing to do.”