Edmonton

Alberta MLA, cabinet and premier salaries dropping

A five per cent drop in MLA salaries took effect Tuesday after the members’ services committee passed cuts promised by the United Conservative Party in the lead-up to the last provincial election.

NDP MLAs accuse UCP of setting stage for public sector wage rollbacks this fall

Edmonton South MLA Thomas Dang and his NDP colleagues accused the government of intending to use MLA pay cuts as justification for future public sector wage rollbacks. (Alberta Legislative Assembly )

A five per cent drop in MLA salaries took effect Tuesday after the members' services committee passed cuts promised by the United Conservative Party in the lead-up to the April provincial election. 

The cuts also included a 10-per-cent drop in the compensation paid to Premier Jason Kenney. While the motions were passed unanimously by UCP and NDP members on the committee, the debate devolved into a partisan scrap, with each side accusing the other of politicizing the issue. 

The NDP said the pay cuts were setting the stage for the government to rollback public sector wages this fall.  

The government said the NDP was playing political games with the consolidated members' services committee orders, which lay out salaries and allowable expenses for MLAs. 

Government MLA Laila Goodridge told reporters afterwards that her party promised the pay cut because it was the right thing to do in light of the province's financial challenges.

"This was not political pandering," said Goodridge, MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac la Biche. "This was simply keeping a promise we made prior to the election." 

The changes cut salaries for MLAs from $127,296 to $120,931 as of Aug. 6. 

Kenney's pay was cut from $206,856 to $186,170. 

Members of cabinet are given additional compensation of $63,648 on top of their MLA base pay. With that extra amount cut to $60,468, their salaries drop from $190,944 to $181,399.

'Political gamesmanship'

The NDP expressed skepticism about the government's motives for the pay cut throughout the meeting. 

Christina Gray said she was concerned that Goodridge, who was the acting deputy chair of the committee on Tuesday, used the term "leading by example" when discussing the motion. 

"This raises concerns for me that remuneration changes passed at today's meeting are being done simply for political and opportunistic motives," said Gray, the NDP MLA for Edmonton-Mill Woods.

She introduced a motion directing the government not to use the MLA pay cuts to justify wage rollbacks. It was defeated by the UCP majority on the committee. 

Peace River UCP MLA Dan Williams accused the opposition of engaging in "brinksmanship and political gamesmanship".

"It's untoward what they are doing," Williams said. "They should be a little disappointed in themselves for trying to do it."

Another NDP motion suggested cutting pay for cabinet members to zero until Aug. 15, the day a panel studying Alberta's finances is expected to report. 

Edmonton-South NDP MLA Thomas Dang said cabinet ministers haven't been doing their jobs, since they keep delaying decisions until they see the report. The motion was defeated.

The committee also passed a motion ending what Kenney called double-dipping on vehicle expenses.

MLAs will no longer be able to expense fuel and minor maintenance for their personal vehicles.

now