Big pay outs await outgoing MLAs

Average MLA pension for MLAs retiring or defeated is $56,000; average taxpayer would have to save almost a million dollars to get the same deal

Harry Sullivan
Published on October 9, 2013

HALIFAX - According to numbers calculated by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the average pension pay out for Nova Scotia politicians defeated or retiring after this election is $55,875.09. To put that in perspective, for the average taxpayer to get that same pension, they would need to save $995,783 if they retire at age 60. These MLAs will get their pension after working an average of just 11 years.

“Don’t feel too badly for retiring and defeated MLAs from the 2013 election – they have a big pension payday waiting for them,” said Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “These big pensions for outgoing politicians are a reminder that every minute that we waste before scrapping this program continues to cost us.”

The pension plan is so rich that one politician, Wayne Gaudet who represented Clare, will actually make more money in retirement than he did serving as an MLA. He’ll collect a little over $90,000 a year, which is more than his current salary of $87,485. For the average taxpayer to make that same pension, they would have to save almost $1.7 million. Premier Darrell Dexter is eleigible for a $131,199.50 annual pension, total value is $2,547,200. 

Every dollar a politician puts into the pension program is matched with $22 from taxpayers.

“This MLA pension program is a cash machine that is just spitting out money to our politicians,” continued Lacey.

The CTF produced a report on MLA pensions in 2010 that led to pensions for politicians elected in 2013 to be reduced by about 30 per cent. But the CTF believes that plan doesn’t go far enough.

The CTF wants to see the pension plan for current MLAs replaced with a more reasonable one, and reduced payments to politicians currently collecting an MLA pension. Many of those now collecting these excessive pensions are the ones who created this pension system in the first place.

“While all parties support some kind of change, yet every single one of them would protect the pensions of the now retired politicians who put these pensions in place,” said Lacey. “They’re too concerned about being ‘fair’ to the same politicians who put their own interests ahead of taxpayers in the first place.”

New Brunswick cut pensions payouts for politicians recieving benefits from their MLA pension scheme. 

The new Liberal government has promised an independent commission will look into all MLA compensation. The CTF hopes that the committee begins its work as soon as possible.

Any MLA who is not eligible for an MLA pension – that is they haven’t reached 55 years of age or they did not serve five years or longer – is eligible for a “transition allowance” of one month’s salary for every year worked. These payments range from about $87,000 for Economic Development Minister Graham Steele to approximately $32,000 for any MLA first elected in 2009.

“It’s time to make a real change to this pension system. Nova Scotians can’t afford to wait any longer,” concluded Lacey.