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Alberta MLAs are discussing a five percent pay cut



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People are walking the warm day of Alberta legislation in Edmonton, Tuesday, June 11, 2019.

Jan Kucherak / Postmedia

Alberta MLAs unanimously voted to cut their own pay by five percent – and cut the prime minister by 10 percent – at a fiery board meeting in Edmonton on Tuesday.

However, the NDP's proposal that politicians' pay cuts "should not be used as justification to justify any remuneration measures for Alberta public sector employees" was strongly rejected by members of the CCP commission.

The pay cut is due to the election when Prime Minister Jason Kenny now promises that the MLA will take an "immediate" pay cut if UCP wins power.

During the election, Kenny said that a five percent pay cut was "a strong sign of how this new generation of leaders is ready to put the province first."

"This is leadership by example," he said at the time.

Even with the cut – which sees base salaries drop by $ 6,655 – Alberta's MRLs remain the highest paid in Canada.

They will now collect $ 120,931 each, compared to the next highest provincial Ontario pay packages in which MPs earn $ 116,550.

Kenny will earn an additional $ 65,244 as prime minister, bringing his annual salary to $ 186,175.

Ministers, speakers, party whips and leaders of the Alberta House earn thousands of more allowances each year.

"Dillydallying" Ministers Should Win $ 0: Dang

Before everyone voted in favor of pay cuts, the GDR NDP accused the government of using pay cuts as "smoke" for potential visits to pay packages in the public sector after the release of a financial statement led by Janice McKinnon.

MacKinnon made the case for lower wages in the Alberta public sector in a 2017 paper co-authored with Calgary economist Jack Mintz. Its current fiscal report is due on August 15.

Thomas Dang, a member of the PDP for Edmonton-South, told the committee that government ministers were sitting on their hands in anticipation of the MacKinnon report. He made a proposal saying that they should receive nothing until they have made any decisions.

After the meeting, he told reporters that cabinet ministers were "eagerly waiting to wait" for McKinnon's report instead of doing their jobs.

"The prime minister and the executive board need to understand that the Albertans expect them to do their jobs. Their jobs come with pay and if they won't do it, it must be taken away, "he said.

Laila Goodridge, UCP member for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, called Dang's proposal "one of the most cynical proposals I've seen in my time in politics. This is absolutely ridiculous. "

She also rejected Dang's claim that using Kenny's words "lead by example" meant that her government would attack public sector officials.

"Alberta is in some difficult times right now," she said.

"So by reducing the pay, it's not symbolic that we're saying that public service will also reduce pay, we're just saying we're going to do it because it's the right thing to do. "

No retroactive reduction in pay

Kenny's promise of an "immediate" pay cut ended more than three months ago. The committee had its first election meeting on June 18, but pay cuts were not on the agenda. Neither did UCP MSPs want to add it to the committee's to-do list.

That wasn't even raised as a matter until July 24, when Calgary-West Vice-Chair and MLA Eke Mike Ellis asked for a review of the politicians' compensation.

A week later, on August 1, Ellis also asked the committee to go deeper into fuel cards and mileage.

Goodridge said the delay was due to planning.

As for why the pay cut is not retroactive, Goodridge said her party got engaged but was not allowed.

Last April, former MLA Derek Fildebrand tabled a five percent pay cut, but no member would even make the proposal, let alone vote for it.

The committee also voted Tuesday to kill the MLA's credit card program, remove the ability to make requests for fuel, maintain and wash cars, and bring politicians within the same mile range as a public service.

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