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Members Compensation Review Committee in Clarenville


The Members’ Compensation Review Committee was recently in Clarenville seeking public input into a report on the salaries, allowances, severance payments and pensions to be paid to members of the House of Assembly.

The meeting was sparsely attended, but economist David Vardy did give a written presentation, which he used to foster discussion.

Sandra Burke, chairwoman of the Members’ Compensation Review Committee, held a series of public consultations in Newfoundland and Labrador last week. She was on hand to hear Vardy’s presentation.

Vardy said his message to the committee is that they must take into account the fragile state of our treasury and the need for all members to take action to manage this fiscal crisis.

Vardy touched on several of what he said were fundamental issues. These included comparability with other jurisdictions, the necessity of attracting working people into government, and adjusting the pay of members to reflect changes in the marketplace.

“In my opinion the remuneration package is very generous. It has been sufficiently attractive over the years to attract a number of people from highly paid professions, such as teachers, lawyers and doctors,” said Vardy.

Burke said that there has been no raise in MHA salaries or additional salaries since 2007.

Joanne Freeman, Constiuency Assistant to Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway, said most salaries for MHAs are less than that of most public servants.

“Yet they are working so many hours. Some days it’s 16 hours a day. They are getting less now than the public servant who does their job Monday through Friday,” said Freeman.

Vardy said leading by example is the first step that what MHAs have to do and the next step is public service.

Burke says it is a tricky issue and that she has been approached by some of the MHAs who are making less than the deputy ministers (DMs) and some of the higher-level bureaucrats.

 

“The flip side of that coin is that the DMs and the higher level bureaucrats are truly the brain trusts of government. They have historical knowledge that some of the new MHAs do not come to the table with,” said Burke.

Burke says she understands that MHAs have a different role to play, but can’t be compared with top level bureaucrats and deputy ministers.

“I think we’re comparing apples and oranges and as many MHAs as have said to us that they find it infuriating that they are being paid less than the top level bureaucrats, we cannot use it as a measure,” said Burke.

Vardy concluded his presentation by offering some recommendations.

He said the province’s ability to pay should be a major consideration in deciding on the appropriate remuneration for MHAs.

“MHAs should show leadership by example, offering to take a pay cut and thereby to lead by example as part of a plan to restore fiscal sustainability and to avoid placing and unfair burden on future generations,” said Vardy.

Vardy also said an MHA’s pension plan should be redesigned to make it no more generous than what is available to other public servants.

“Public servants should not be able to draw more than one full pension from government pension plans when they are elected as members,” he added.

How to have your say on MHA compensation:

In writing:

Members' Compensation Review Committee

P.O. Box 8700

St. John's, NL, A1B 4J6

Attention: Sandra Burke, Q.C., Chair

By phone: 1-844-445-7945

By fax: 1-888-729-7922

Via email: MCRC@gov.nl.ca

Via Twitter: @NLMCRC2016

The meeting was sparsely attended, but economist David Vardy did give a written presentation, which he used to foster discussion.

Sandra Burke, chairwoman of the Members’ Compensation Review Committee, held a series of public consultations in Newfoundland and Labrador last week. She was on hand to hear Vardy’s presentation.

Vardy said his message to the committee is that they must take into account the fragile state of our treasury and the need for all members to take action to manage this fiscal crisis.

Vardy touched on several of what he said were fundamental issues. These included comparability with other jurisdictions, the necessity of attracting working people into government, and adjusting the pay of members to reflect changes in the marketplace.

“In my opinion the remuneration package is very generous. It has been sufficiently attractive over the years to attract a number of people from highly paid professions, such as teachers, lawyers and doctors,” said Vardy.

Burke said that there has been no raise in MHA salaries or additional salaries since 2007.

Joanne Freeman, Constiuency Assistant to Terra Nova MHA Colin Holloway, said most salaries for MHAs are less than that of most public servants.

“Yet they are working so many hours. Some days it’s 16 hours a day. They are getting less now than the public servant who does their job Monday through Friday,” said Freeman.

Vardy said leading by example is the first step that what MHAs have to do and the next step is public service.

Burke says it is a tricky issue and that she has been approached by some of the MHAs who are making less than the deputy ministers (DMs) and some of the higher-level bureaucrats.

 

“The flip side of that coin is that the DMs and the higher level bureaucrats are truly the brain trusts of government. They have historical knowledge that some of the new MHAs do not come to the table with,” said Burke.

Burke says she understands that MHAs have a different role to play, but can’t be compared with top level bureaucrats and deputy ministers.

“I think we’re comparing apples and oranges and as many MHAs as have said to us that they find it infuriating that they are being paid less than the top level bureaucrats, we cannot use it as a measure,” said Burke.

Vardy concluded his presentation by offering some recommendations.

He said the province’s ability to pay should be a major consideration in deciding on the appropriate remuneration for MHAs.

“MHAs should show leadership by example, offering to take a pay cut and thereby to lead by example as part of a plan to restore fiscal sustainability and to avoid placing and unfair burden on future generations,” said Vardy.

Vardy also said an MHA’s pension plan should be redesigned to make it no more generous than what is available to other public servants.

“Public servants should not be able to draw more than one full pension from government pension plans when they are elected as members,” he added.

How to have your say on MHA compensation:

In writing:

Members' Compensation Review Committee

P.O. Box 8700

St. John's, NL, A1B 4J6

Attention: Sandra Burke, Q.C., Chair

By phone: 1-844-445-7945

By fax: 1-888-729-7922

Via email: MCRC@gov.nl.ca

Via Twitter: @NLMCRC2016

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