Defeated northern MPs receive hefty pensions, severance pay

Three MPs in northeastern Ontario were voted out of office during the federal election, but they won't be leaving empty-handed. The ousted MPs will part with thousands of dollars in severance and pension — all paid from the public purse.

But MP pensions will not be as gold-plated for incoming members

Former Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle. (Erik White/CBC )

Three MPs in northeastern Ontario were voted out of office during the federal election, but they won't be leaving empty-handed. The ousted MPs will part with thousands of dollars in severance and pension — all paid from the public purse.

Former Nickel Belt ND MP Claude Gravelle was already a pensioner from his time working for Inco in Sudbury, but his seven years in the House of Commons also qualifies him for an MP pension.

The Canadian taxpayers federation calculates that he will receive $33,981 a year once he collects pension, meaning over his retirement he could receive as much as $1,038,819.

The other two defeated MPs in the region, Conservatives Bryan Hayes and Jay Aspin, didn't make it to six years, so don't qualify for a pension.

But they each receive a severance payment of $83,700, about half of their MP salary.

Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, wonders if that is too generous.

"When you elect a member of parliament, it's essentially like hiring someone on contract, a four-year contract. Folks will know in other roles you don't get a severance at the end of your contract. I think that's something that's up for discussion," he said.

Former Nipissing-Timiskaming Conservative MP Jay Aspin. (Erik White/CBC)

Pensions changing for incoming MPs

After years of critics slamming these so-called golden parachutes, the MP pensions are changing, something Wudrick said the outgoing Conservative government should get credit for.

Right now, Wudrick said taxpayers contribute between $15 and $24 for every $1 the MP puts to their own pension. But starting in the new year, taxpayers will chip in $1.60 for every $1 from the MP, a ratio much closer to most other pension contribution schemes.

"The pensions themselves will actually stay where they are. It simply means the members will be paying themselves, rather than taxpayers. And we think that's entirely fine," said Wudrick.

MPs who were re-elected, including Charlie Angus of Timmins-James Bay and Carol Hughes in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, will now face higher pension contributions, along with the incoming rookie MPs.

There are several MP pensioners in the region from past service in Ottawa.

Liberal Ray Bonin qualified for an annual pension of about $79,000 for his 15 years as Nickel Belt MP. His Liberal counterpart Brent St. Denis from Algoma-Manitoulin is also eligible for an estimated $82,000 annually for his time in office.

Current Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault served the required six years as the riding's New Democrat MP, before defecting to the provincial Liberals in December 2014. When he retires, he'll be eligible for $30,000 a year in MP pension, but won't receive one from his time in provincial politics. 

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