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New MPs are getting up to speed in orientation. Here are some of the perks of the job

People walk near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.
People walk near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Almost 100 new members of Parliament gathered in Ottawa for orientation meetings on Tuesday.

There are 98 new MPs who were elected across the country, and they have been taking part in orientation sessions on everything from how to run their office budgets to hiring staff, understanding the rules and privileges that apply to them in their new roles and getting signed up for all of the services run by the House of Commons administration — and there are many.

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There’s a lot to remember — the House of Commons’ Members’ Allowances and Services guide is close to 277 pages long — but also more than a few perks.

Here’s an overview of what the new members of Parliament can expect.

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Salary range

Members of the House of Commons get a base salary and can also get top-ups if they serve in additional roles.

To start, each MP will take home a salary of $178,900 per year — more than double the median Canadian household income of roughly $70,336.

Plus, they can get additional compensation starting at $6,200 per year for serving as committee vice-chairs or as the deputy whip, House leader or caucus chair for an opposition party other than the official Opposition.

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The next top-up bracket is $12,400, and that will go to anyone tapped to serve on the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians or as chair of any other committee, along with caucus chairs for the governing party and the official Opposition, plus the deputy whip of the official Opposition and the whip for any other opposition party.

An extra $17,500 goes to deputy House leaders for the government and official Opposition, House leaders for any other opposition party and parliamentary secretaries — of which there are usually roughly an equal number to cabinet ministers, if not slightly more.

The chief government and opposition whips — the people in charge of marshalling MPs for things like votes — get an extra $31,900 on top of their base salary.

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The deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, along with the Opposition House leader and chair of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, receives an additional $44,200, while the leaders of parties other than the government and official Opposition get an extra $60,600.

In the second-highest top-up bracket are ministers of state, ministers, the leader of the official Opposition and the Speaker of the House of Commons.

All of those roles come with an extra $85,500, plus a car allowance of $2,000 each year.

The highest top-up goes to the prime minister, who gets double the regular MP salary with an extra $178,900 for his role.

Travel and other allowances

Members of Parliament also get a range of allowances for their office budget, travel expenses and housing.

Each MP gets $363,600 to run their office, including employee salaries, operating costs and wireless devices.

They also get a range of expenses and allowances for travel, including both expenses they incur personally and those related to travel for parliamentary purposes.

Travel for parliamentary purposes is expensed using a system that sets point limits rather than monetary limits so as not to discriminate against MPs who have higher travel expenses because their riding is remote or rural.

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Wilson-Raybould claimed more in spousal travel expenses than any of her former cabinet colleagues
Wilson-Raybould claimed more in spousal travel expenses than any of her former cabinet colleagues

Each MP gets 64 travel points each fiscal year that can be used by both themselves and an authorized traveller, usually a spouse, as well as dependents like children. One point equals one round trip.

The majority of these points are used for what is deemed regular travel between the MP’s riding and Ottawa, within their riding or between their riding or Ottawa and any other provincial or territorial capital.

Of those 64 points, a maximum of 25 can be used for special travel to other Canadian destinations not included in regular travel.

A maximum of four points can be used for travel to Washington, D.C., while two can be used for travel to New York.

As well, MPs can charge up to $30,690 in meals, accommodations and incidentals that they themselves incur during travel to a separate travel expense account.

MPs also get free travel on Via Rail, while their families get half-off travel if not travelling with the MP.

Relocation expenses are also covered, along with an allowance for secondary housing in the National Capital Region.

That housing allowance allows MPs who have a primary residence in their riding to claim a maximum of $28,600 in secondary housing expenses per year.

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That breaks down to roughly $2,383 per month for costs like renting an apartment near Parliament Hill.

Members of parliament spending millions on travel for spouses, partners
Members of parliament spending millions on travel for spouses, partners