Local politicians respond to MLA pay freeze announcement
Alberta MLAs will not receive their scheduled one per cent cost-of-living salary increase this year.
Premier Alison Redford announced via Twitter that the pay increase will be refused in an attempt to cut costs. The decision was made in a vote by the member services committee on Feb. 7.
Local MLAs say the pay freeze is too little too late.
Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Bruce Rowe called it “a hollow gesture,” because though that money is certainly helpful, it comes not long after MLAs were given an eight per cent pay
“I think (Premier Redford) needs to look at her own legislature to see where some significant cuts could be made,” said Rowe.
Alberta MLAs make a base salary of $134,000 per year, not including additional remuneration for the premier, Speaker, ministers, opposition leaders, deputy Speaker, chairs and deputy chairs of committees, who make between $16,750 and $83,750 in allowances. Going back to May 2012, MLAs made a base salary of $78,138 with similar allowance packages.
Rowe said he believes Alberta’s MLAs are overpaid, adding his situation is very different from many other provincial representatives.
“I retired in 2005, I don’t need this job for the money,” he said. “But there are caucus members who have young families, they’ve given up career paths to do this and I think they should be amply paid, but I don’t think we should be deciding our own pay, either. Personally I think when you take this job, that’s the pay and you stick with it until the next election. Cost of living increases, I can understand that, but the base pay, we took this job at the base pay, that’s where it should still be as far as I’m concerned.”
Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson called the pay freeze disingenuous.
“It insults Albertans’ intelligence and obviously Ms. Redford thinks Albertans are idiots if they believe it,” said Anderson.
“Obviously the money could be put to better use elsewhere, but … it is insignificant in the context of the budget.”
Anderson went on to say MLAs gave themselves an eight per cent increase six months ago.
“You can’t give yourself an eight per cent pay increase then freeze your salary six months later and say that you’re leading by example,” he said.
Anderson added that he would like to see a pay freeze in place for MLAs until the province is back in a surplus position.