The MHA Salary Review Committee is now touring the province receiving public feedback on members’ compensation. Very few people are interested though, as evidenced by the public turnout in St. John’s and Corner Brook hearings. One presentation in St. John’s and two in Corner Brook.
And Commissioner Judge Jacqueline Brazil is not receiving reactions to the members’ salaries, but other compensation issues such as pensions.
A member’s salary established in 2006 provides a base of $48,260 a year with $24,130 non-taxable salary and another ‘gross up tax-free allowance’ of $42,289 for a total of $90,946.
On top of that there’s extras – the premier receives another $70,300; government ministers, Opposition leader and Speaker of the House another $50,968 and then for government committees or other Legislature positions there’s additional pay.
Those figures are identified on the government website.
When these salaries were established six years ago Newfoundland ranked behind only Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Northwest Territories for members’ remuneration in a provincial Legislature.
Okay the argument is you look at the business community and to attract responsible individuals to government you have to offer comparable salaries. Then there’s the time spent on government/constituency business, outside of regular House sittings, away from families.
The general public is obviously apathetic in its view of these salaries. The fear is constituents will simply say the MHAs are going to pay themselves whatever they want, whether it’s presented in public view and in some other fashion.
It’s a shame residents have so little interest in the salaries paid through Confederation Building, and why these provincial expenditures are given so little attention by the public.
Thank goodness for the position of Auditor-General and his/her annual scrutiny of the books. Let’s at least make sure the spotlight is on politicians long enough so they don’t shut this individual out of the inner workings of our government, as has been done in the past prior to former Premier Danny Williams.
George Macvicar, Editor/Manager