Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hey, Atlantic Canada voters been working 30-years eh? How's your pensions? Do you even have one?

"Helicopter Pete": "Thank you taxpayers for your generorsity ..... bye, bye for you!"
Parachute club: MPs get hefty severance

Turfed, retired politicians will cost taxpayers $12.6 m now, $5.3m annually

Andrea Gunn Ottawa Bureau
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Then-Justice Minister Peter MacKay during a news conference in October on March 23. (Canadian Press File)

Voters in Nova Scotia sent several MPs packing Monday night as they welcomed a new crop of Liberal representatives, but they’re not exactly leaving empty-handed.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation released its calculations of estimated severance and pension payments that will go to the 180 members of Parliament who were either defeated in the election or chose not to reoffer. Those MPs will collect a total $5.3 million annually in pension payments and receive $12.6 million in severance cheques.

Of the defeated Nova Scotia incumbents, former NDP MPs Megan Leslie (Halifax) and Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook ) are both eligible to collect a pension, as they’ve held their seats for more than six years.

For Stoffer, who is over the eligibility age of 55, that annual pension of $93,862 for the rest of his life will kick in right away. Leslie only served for seven years so her annual pension is significantly lower, at $34,152, as she contributed much less than Stoffer over his 18 years as MP. But because Leslie is under 55, she’ll also receive a severance payment of $86,650 — equal to six months salary — while Stoffer will not.

Both former Tory MP Scott Armstrong (Cumberland-Colchester) and former NDP MP Robert Chisholm (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour) were shy of the six years required to collect a lifetime pension — Armstrong by just a couple of months — but they will both receive a severance payment.

The 180 defeated and retiring MPs will be the last to receive what many have called overly generous lifetime pensions. Because of laws passed by Parliament in 2012, members’ contributions will increase by almost four times by 2017, bringing them up to par with the 50-50 cost-sharing model most private employers use. They must also wait until age 65 to begin collecting payments.

“When you consider (under the old model) for every dollar the politician puts in the taxpayer puts in 17, it’s such a huge golden parachute for politicians. When most Nova Scotians have no pension at all, it is unjust that these politicians will be getting this very rich pension programs,” said Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Canada director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Having said that, they deserve credit that this pension program will change. No more will they be receiving the type of pensions contained in this current program as a result of changes that the MPs have brought in themselves.”

Retiring Conservative MPs Gerald Keddy (South Shore-St. Margarets), Greg Kerr (West Nova) and Peter MacKay (Central Nova) will all collect pensions as well.

MacKay’s is the highest, at $117,746 annually after serving for 18 years and in several high-profile cabinet positions. Though they both decided to retire from politics, MacKay and Kerr will receive severance packages equal to six months salary because of extra duties: $123,750 for MacKay and $53,259 for Kerr.

When it comes to severance, Lacey said MPs are entitled to it but he acknowledged their payments are high compared with what the average taxpayer would receive.

“Politicians get about six months salary in severance; most people get about one month or two weeks,” Lacey said.

He added that in situations like MacKay’s, when a politician chooses to step away, he doesn’t think a severance is appropriate.

“Outside of government, if you decide to leave your job you do not get a severance payment, yet these politicians do. That’s one change that should happen. You shouldn’t get paid out for making a decision to leave a job.”

Departing MPs:

Scott Armstrong (Conservative)
Years as MP: 5.9
Severance: $92,000
Annual pension: $0
Contributions: $78,858

Robert Chisholm (NDP)
Dartmouth-Cole Harbour
Years as MP: 4.5
Severance: $86,650
Annual pension: $0
Contributions: $60,913

Megan Leslie (NDP)
Years as MP: 7
Severance: $86,650
Annual pension: $34,152
Contributions: $89,010

Peter Stoffer (NDP)
Years as MP: 18.4
Severance: $0
Annual pension: $93,862
Contributions: $173,528

Gerald Keddy (Conservative)
South Shore-St. Margarets
Years as MP: 18.4
Severance: $0
Annual pension: $96,864
Contributions: $205,612

Greg Kerr (Conservative)
West Nova
Years as MP: 7.0
Severance: $53,259
Annual pension: $36,291
Contributions: $94,416

Peter MacKay (Conservative)
Central Nova
Years as MP: 18.4
Severance: $123,750
Annual pension: $117,746
Contributions: $254,449


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