SASKATOON – Two former Saskatoon-area members of parliament could receive almost $7 million in taxpayer-funded pension payouts, according to a report from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).
Retired Saskatoon-Wanuskewin MP Maurice Vellacott could receive roughly $3.8 million in lifetime pension payouts, while former Blackstrap MP Lynne Yelich is in line for almost $3.1 million, according to the report. The estimates are based on pension payments up to age 90.
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“Taxpayers are paying those bills, whoever is paying a bill ought to know what a bill is worth,” said Todd MacKay, the CTF’s prairie director.
The CTF report projects that 180 MPs who either didn’t seek re-election or were defeated in 2015 election would collect roughly $209 million in lifetime pensions. For an MP to receive a pension, they must serve in Ottawa for at least six years.
Contributions made by MPs only account for a fraction of their eventual pension, according to MacKay.
“Canadians were on the hook for about $17 for every dollar that an MP put into their pension plan, that’s an incredible deal,” said MacKay.
“I don’t think there’s any employer in the province that’s given a deal like that to their employees because simply it’s too rich,” he added.
In 2012, parliament passed pension reform and significantly increased the amount of money members contribute to their own pension. Those changes will be implemented in 2016.
“Now Canadians are going to be putting in $1.60 for every dollar that MPs put into their pensions,” said MacKay.
“That’s still a great deal, that’s a better deal than most of us would get, but it’s a much better deal for taxpayers.”
The eligible age to receive a full pension was also moved from 55 to 65 as part of the reform.
“We tried to approach the whole pension issue on a level much more similar to what the rest of the world has,” said Saskatoon-University MP Brad Trost, who was in office when the reform bill was voted through parliament.
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Despite the pension reform, some unique benefits still remain, according to University of Saskatchewan public policy professor Michael Atkinson. He pointed out that MPs’ pensions are funded through general revenue and are not linked to the market.
“Everything is absolutely guaranteed which means the Canadian taxpayer is the one who is absorbing all of the risk,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson added that Canadians should question what they’re getting from MPs, when considering the compensation they receive from the job.
“I am not a person who wants to reduce the amount of payment we make for MPs, what I want them to do is be given a decent job to do,” said Atkinson.
“The MPs have been stripped now to the point where really it’s not clear to me or to others that they have a real job to do that is worthwhile, certainly not worthwhile this kind of compensation.”