NDP right to call for Saskatchewan MLA pay freeze, says taxpayers group

According to the CTF, pay raises for MLAs range from an extra $7,023 for a backbench MLA to an additional $12,131 for Premier Scott Moe.

NDP right to call for Saskatchewan MLA pay freeze, says taxpayers group
The Canadian Press / Michael Bell
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After several Canadian provinces cancelled scheduled pay hikes for 2023 — some somewhat reluctantly — the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) urged Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to follow suit as a gesture of good faith to taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.

"MLAs should not be raising their salaries off the backs of taxpayers while they are struggling to afford gas and groceries," said Gage Haubrich, Prairie Director for the CTF. "The government needs to do what's right and stop the pay hike."

The province's NDP leader Carla Beck called for an MLA pay freeze by stopping a scheduled pay increase for April 1.

"I don't think this is a question. This is not a time to increase MLA salaries," she said.

As consumers feel the inflationary pressure as prices continue to rise, Beck said people are "scared to go to the grocery store because, every time they go, it's more expensive."

Due to mounting cost of living concerns, Saskatchewan's Official Opposition feels it would be inappropriate for MLAs to accept an annual salary adjustment instead of a pay bump on April 1.

In Saskatchewan, MLA pay raises are tied to inflation for the previous year, which was 6.8%. According to the CTF, pay raises for MLAs range from an extra $7,023 for a backbench MLA to an additional $12,131 for Premier Scott Moe.

"Backbench MLAs currently earn $103,285 annually. Premier Moe earns $178,406. The base pay MLAs receive nearly double what the average person makes in the province," reads a CTF statement.

Premier Scott Moe could not offer his opinion at the time of writing.

However, the province said, "The government is considering whether the expected increase should be adjusted before it takes effect." Whereas the NDP believes it should be reduced to zero.

"I understand the formula," explained Beck. "I understand what's happened in the past, but this is not an ordinary time for people."

In their request, the taxpayers federation referenced other provincial governments that have recently stopped politician pay raises. 

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston stopped an automatic pay raise for Nova Scotia MLAs and cut his pay by $11,000. Late last year, British Columbia MLAs also stopped their automatic pay increase.

"A pay freeze is the right thing to do," said Haubrich. "MLAs need to show that they understand the increased costs that Saskatchewanians face."

"Politicians should not put more taxpayer dollars in their pockets while families are cutting back."

In 2022, BC Opposition House Leader Todd Stone introduced Bill M 214, the Members' Remuneration and Pensions (Salary Freeze) Amendment Act, 2022, on October 18 to suspend an expected $10,000 pay hike scheduled for April.

"British Columbians expect their elected representatives to lead by example. As our constituents continue to face financial challenges due to inflation, the last thing they want to see is their MLA receiving a pay bump," said Stone on October 6.

"Accepting a pay increase of up to 10% would be completely out of line with the expectations of families struggling to put food on the table or keep their kids in extracurricular activities."

BC MLAs make approximately $115,045 annually, while cabinet members earn up to $172,567. Meanwhile, Premier David Eby takes home a salary of $218,587 — nearly three times more than the median household income in BC. 

Stone also called for the province to reverse the $20,000 retroactive pay hike for cabinet members at the time.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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