It pays to run for political office in B.C., especially when it comes to retirement, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
This week, the group issued a press release about politicians who will soon be retiring from provincial politics and how much their pensions will cost taxpayers.
The group said it calculated the pensions for 15 MLAs who are not seeking re-election in B.C., and estimated that the total lifetime payout for them will be more than $20 million.
“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, the group’s B.C. director.
“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”
According to the CTF, two politicians will make more than $100,000 a year when they reach age 65: former BC Liberal cabinet minister Rich Coleman at $109,000 a year and former speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid at $107,000.
The CTF says the lifetime total pensions estimate for both Coleman and Reid will be around $2.6 million each.
The group calculated the pensions by taking the highest-earning years and factoring in their years of work.
The CTF said annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest-earning years, and that for every $1 politicians contribute to their pension plans, taxpayers pay $4.
“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims.
“Most Canadians are lucky if their employer matches a dollar-for-dollar RRSP. There’s no justification for taxpayers to put in $4 for every $1 an MLA chips in.”
Global News has reached out to the BC Liberals and the BC NDP.
In an email to Global News, the leader of the BC Conservatives, Trevor Bolin, said: “MLAs have an amazing pension, while the rest of us work 20-30 years for the same type of pension at a far older age by the time we collect.”
The BC Conservatives captured no seats in the last election.
“The pension plan needs an overhaul,” said Bolin.
“The six-year qualifier needs to be doubled to 12 years at minimum for qualifying, and the existing rate needs to be compared to other industries and pension plans in B.C., which is far less than we are paying now.”
The CTF said in addition to those pensions, MLAs who aren’t seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while looking for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.
The provincial government has part of a web page dedicated to explaining the MLA pension plan.
It says member contributions are fixed at 11 per cent, while the current government contribution rate is 40.14 per cent.
It also said an MLA is not entitled to a pension unless he or she has served in the legislature for at least six years, and that an MLA can receive an unreduced pension at age 65, though there is an option to take a reduced pension between 60 and 65 with a three per cent reduction per year.
To view that page, click here.
Below are the CTF’s estimated pension totals for MLAs who are retiring from provincial politics:
Tracy Redies, BC Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
- Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
- Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
- Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
- Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
- Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
- Rich Coleman, former BC Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
- Linda Reid, former BC Liberal speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
- John Yap, former BC Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime.
- Darryl Plecas, Independent speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
- Andrew Weaver, former Green Party leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
- Donna Barnett, BC Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
- Linda Larson – BC Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
- Ralph Sultan, former BC Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.