Beyond the Headlines

Out with the old MLAs and their pensions

Posted: Oct 10, 2013 1:26 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 10, 2013 1:26 PM ET

Of the 27 MLAs who were either defeated or chose not to run in Tuesday's election, 17 will walk away with what Jamie Baillie likes to call the "gold-plated pension."


Those who are older than 55, such as Premier Darrell Dexter, will be able to start collecting their pensions right away. Dexter may have lost his seat, but he is the big winner in the pension sweepstakes. His annual pension for the rest of his life is $131,199.50.


Former Liberal MLA Wayne Gaudet, who chose not to run this year after two decades in the legislature, will start taking home an annual pension of $90,864.03.


John MacDonell, who was defeated after serving 15 years, will collect $76,397.89 a year.


On the lower end of the scale, former Progressive Conservative MLA Keith Bain can start collecting his annual pension of $29,703.64, his reward for serving just seven years in the legislature.


And defeated New Democrat MLA Becky Kent will qualify for a pension of $24,817.09 for her six years in the legislature.


While Jamie Baillie won't get the chance to follow through on his promise to scrap the "gold-plated" pension plan, the 27 new MLAs won't get the same deal their predecessors enjoyed.


Under new amendments that took effect the day after the election, MLAs will now have to work longer to qualify for a slightly smaller pension.


Under the old rules, MLAs could earn a full pension of 75 per cent of their salary in just 15 years, a plan that saw taxpayers contribute almost $7 for every $1 contributed by the MLAs.


Now the rookies will have to stay in the legislature 20 years to earn a full pension, and it will top out at 70 per cent of their earnings. That will reduce the taxpayers' contribution to just under $5 for every $1 the MLAs kick in.


But the newbies may not be able to count on this new "silver-plated" plan as they do their long-term financial planning.


The new Liberal government is promising to appoint an independent panel to review the entire remuneration package for MLAs. That  review will include MLA salaries, expenses and pensions.


But that may not happen for a while. A spokesperson for the new government says this isn't one of their "priority" promises, so they aren't willing to say when they'll get around to tackling an issue that is a lightning rod for many Nova Scotians.


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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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