Thursday, April 23, 2009
Just a doggone minute here ... I've heard of highway robbery but this?
An M.L.A. in B.C. receives a base salary of $101,859. a year plus travel allowances and a gold-plated pension plan. The premier's salary was $186,200 until August 2008 when he gave himself a 54% pay raise, but he too qualifies for this additional $127,324 + other stuff.
Right now and up until May 12, we see these very people fighting tooth and nail for a job that's so tough, so punishing, so awful that the winners feel the need of final cash gifts "Passed by a committee that runs the Legislature" ... ? What the heck does that mean?
Apparently it means that whoever runs the Legislature used their power while they still had it. They've legalized another cash gift for themselves because they've been so abused, overworked, unappreciated that their pain can only be relieved by another $127,324. + $9,000. + ... ? Unlike everybody else in this world, they win even if they lose.
And they're telling that to British Columbians who pay these "salaries"? BC's MLAs talk this kind of talk to the people of this troubled province ... not just to the dwindling ranks of working people but also to the pensioners, the unemployed, the underpaid, sick, the homeless?
Enough already. Is this Somalia? British Colombia? what? - BC Mary.
Taxpayers on hook for millions to help ousted politicians get new jobs
BY JOHN BERMINGHAM
CANWEST NEWS SERVICE - April 22, 2009
Lose, retire or quit, it’s still going to be a win-win situation for provincial MLAs.
The day after the May 12 B.C. election, a dozen former MLAs who are not running again will be eligible for up to 15 months full salary and benefits, at a cost of $1.5 million to taxpayers.
Any incumbents defeated at the polls will add to that amount.
The so-called ‘transitional assistance’, designed to cushion the blow of re-entry into the workforce, amounts to $127,324 per MLA.
They will also get educational help of up to $9,000.
The money will be payable every two weeks while the outgoing MLAs look for work, and will be immediately accessible.
Each MLA gets a minimum of four months transition money, $33,953, even if they have another job to go to.
Among the 12 MLAs eligible for the money are outgoing Liberals Olga Ilich, Sindi Hawkins, Rick Thorpe and Tom Christensen.
The former NDP MLAs who qualify for the money are Corky Evans and Chuck Puchmayr.
Four MLA’s who quit before their term ended, such as former Finance Minister Carole Taylor and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, don’t qualify for the severance deal.
They opted to resign before their four-year term expired, forgoing the transition money.
The transitional assistance program used to give outgoing MLA’s severance, pro-rated on years served.
Olga Ilich was elected in 2005, but can get the same money as Claude Richmond, who was first elected in 1981.
The change to the transitional allowance was recommended in an independent review of MLA compensation.
Back in 2007, the transition money was an internal policy change, never making it into legislation.
Legislative comptroller Dan Arbic said the intent of transitional assistance was to give them money to find new employment. “Severance implies an employer-employee relationship, and you get fired without cause,” said Arbic.
“It’s basically an amount provided to members, to kind of bridge a certain period of time for get them to reintegrate into the workforce.” The money ceases when the MLA gets a new job, takes the pension, or dies, he said.
Otherwise, they stay on the payroll for another 15 months, payed out bi-weekly.
“Even though they are eligible for the pension, they don’t have to take it right away,” said Arbic.
“Once that lapses at the end of 15 months, then I go to pension.” Maureen Bader, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, said it’s one sweet deal.
“This severance package is far in excess of anything anyone could get in the private sector,” said Bader.
“Quitters should not be receiving severance.”
“This particular severance package is just too out there, and has got to change.”
Any incumbent MLA who fails to get re-elected will qualify for the allowance.
In 2005, Bader says, 41 MLAs lost their seats, which could cost taxpayers $5.2 million in severance.
Don Smith of Western Compensation and Benefits Consultants in Vancouver, said it’s better than what they’d get in the private sector.
“In the private sector, when someone voluntarily leaves their position, they are not going to get anything,” said Smith.
“The situation with MLA’s is much more attractive than that.”
“If someone decides to step down, the private sector wouldn’t provide them with anything.”
Smith said it’s true that MLA’s need bridging help to get back into their old profession, or take up a new one.
“The termination assistance is appropriate. The question is how much is appropriate.”
Changes to the transition program were passed by the committee that runs the B.C. Legislature, and were not part of Bill 37, which hiked pay and pensions for MLAs.
Under that bill, MLAs got a 29-per-cent pay raise, bringing their base salary on April 1 this year up to $101,859.
The MLAs also got a gold-plated pension plan, estimated to be twice as valuable as the private-sector equivalent.
The defined benefit pension plan kicks in at 65, but can be drawn down as early as 60.
In the case of MLAs like Liberal Katherine Whittred, who are over 65, they have the option of not drawing down their pensions until the 15-month transitional money runs out first.
“I’m looking at how if affects my ongoing financial situation,” said Whittred, who served as an MLA for 13 years, and recently joined the board of Canuck Place.
“I haven’t really resolved this as yet.”
Whittred said the transitional money was recommended to give outgoing MLAs a chance to get their lives back on track.
“This business of being an MLA can be very hard on people in terms of their career paths,” she said.
“This is a very unique job and in many instances, people put their own financial futures at risk.”
“I plan to avail myself of it,” said outgoing Liberal MLA Daniel Jarvis, 73, recovering at home Wednesday after heart bypass surgery.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to try to find another job at the moment.” Jarvis said he was in construction and real estate before entering the B.C. Legislature 18 years ago.
“My income has dropped drastically,” he said.
“A lot of people may feel that it’s very rich,” he said. “But I feel, for what I’ve given up over the last 18 years, it isn’t.”
Next thing we know PABlum types may have to take a pay-cut and return to newspapers, if there are any left (as if there were any even now in BC, at least in the major centers)!