MPs, Senators Get Pay Hike as Canadians Struggle With Stagnant Wages, Rising Unemployment
OTTAWA – Members of Parliament and senators will get a $3,000 increase Friday in their base salary, while cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will receive a larger raise – at a time when Canadians are struggling with stagnant wages and rising unemployment.
The wage hike of 1.8 per cent for MPs and 2.1 per cent for senators is about four times what the federal government has offered public sector unions and executives in the federal public service.
The 338 MPs will see their salaries rise to $170,400 from $167,400, while Trudeau — who gets another $170,400 as PM — now will make $340,800, an increase of $6,000.
Cabinet ministers, interim Opposition leader Rona Ambrose and House Speaker Geoff Regan (who get an extra $81,500 for their roles) will get a $4,400 bump to $251,900.
Senators, who by federal law are required to be paid $25,000 less than MPs, will make $145,400, up from $142,400.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, parliamentary secretaries, party whips, chairs of House of Commons committees, and a handful of other MPs also will get small salary increases for their additional duties, on top of their base pay hike.
The total cost of the salary increase for MPs is just over $1 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which starts Friday.
“I think it’s very poor form considering they are running a $29-billion deficit that they can’t even show some leadership by tightening their own belts, and what signal will it send to the public sector unions when it comes time to negotiate?” said Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“I don’t think most Canadians have much sympathy for the notion that MPs need a pay hike, considering they already earn far more than the average Canadian.”
Federal legislation automatically gives MPs an annual pay hike on April 1 that’s equal to the average percentage increase negotiated by unions with 500 or more employees in the private sector. The data are published by Employment and Social Development Canada.
The pay hike for MPs is nearly double the average increase of one per cent that public sector unions negotiated in jurisdictions across Canada in 2015.
MPs have the option of freezing their own salaries through federal legislation, but the government has decided not to do so. Salaries for MPs were frozen at 2009-10 levels until the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year under legislation introduced and passed by the former Conservative government.
I don’t think most Canadians have much sympathy for the notion that MPs need a pay hike.
Since the MP wage freeze was lifted in 2013, the base salary of members of Parliament has increased eight per cent, from $157,731.
Taxpayers will cough up an extra $25.4 million for an increase of 20 per cent to office budgets for MPs and House of Commons officers that also takes effect Friday. The increase was approved by the secretive multi-party House of Commons Board of Internal Economy.
The pay hike comes amid a sluggish economy and an unemployment rate that hit 7.3 per cent in February – the highest level in three years.
It’s also a sensitive time for the Liberal government as it negotiates new collective bargaining agreements with the 17 federal unions. To date, the government has tabled the same offer it gave executives – a 0.5 per cent increase for last year and 0.5 per cent for this year.
The MP pay hike will be a tough sell to taxpayers when the Liberal government is forecasting deficits totalling more than $113 billion over the next five years, including $29.4 billion in red ink for 2016-1