May 11, 2015 7:55 pm

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger defends severance pay

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger defends severance payouts of $670, 000.

Chris Young / The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says the instability of a job in politics compared to life in the private sector was “certainly a factor” in six-figure severance packages for some of his former staff.

Selinger cited privacy requirements Monday for not revealing details of $670,000 paid in total to seven of his advisers and other workers, who parted ways with him after an NDP leadership revolt last fall.

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READ MORE: Hefty payouts to former NDP staff members in Manitoba

He would not say, for instance, how much each staffer received, but said each payout was fair.

“It’s well within what is considered to be advisable by our legal and HR (human resources) staff.”

Manitoba requires provincially regulated employers to offer workers who are let go at least two weeks of notice or pay for every year of service. The average payout for Selinger’s staff was $96,000.

Selinger said political severance is often higher than in the private sector.

“People that work in political staff positions, there’s always been a standard practice with respect to that, and this is following more or less the normal procedures.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said taxpayers are footing the bill for NDP infighting.

“There’s nothing normal about ripping taxpayers off — working families, seniors — taking their money and then paying it to people to leave.”

The severance packages have been given to almost all of the advisers Selinger had before a caucus revolt erupted last October. In the months that followed, he parted ways with his chief of staff, his issues management director, his caucus director, his communications chief, his press secretary and others.

He survived a leadership challenge at the NDP’s annual convention in March when he beat rival Theresa Oswald by 33 votes on the second ballot.

READ MORE: Greg Selinger keeps job as premier after NDP leadership convention

Selinger had told his staff they were free to work for his challengers without fear of retribution and some left to work on Oswald’s campaign

Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen suggested Monday that the severance packages may have been higher than needed to help the premier avoid legal challenges from departed staff.

Selinger did not directly respond to the accusation.

“All parties agree on any agreement that’s arrived at, and so those are all confidential discussions and all parties have agreed on it.”

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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