Edmonton

Alberta MLAs accept 5% wage rollback

The motion from government whip George VanderBurg was approved by the members’ services committee Wednesday afternoon.
The members' services committee at the Alberta legislature voted in favour of cutting their pay by five per cent. (Kim Trynacity/CBC )

Alberta MLAs are taking a five-per-cent cut to their salaries effective Feb. 1.

The motion from government whip George VanderBurg was approved by the members’ services committee Wednesday afternoon.

"Every political party will have their own different view on what we're attempting to do," VanderBurg said. "I've made it very, very clear to all of you that we have a $6-billion to $7-billion shortfall in the budget, and this is the MLAs' way of contributing to that shortfall."

Last week, Premier Jim Prentice announced that he and members of cabinet were taking a five-per-cent pay cut.  

But some MLAs think the rollback for cabinet ministers doesn't go far enough. Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman proposed they take a 30-per-cent cut, but the committee voted him down. 

"I view this as a poor example of any kind of leadership, really," he said. 

Liberal MLA Raj Sherman said the move was the Tories' way of laying the groundwork for public sector wage rollbacks. He said it was wrong for MLAs to make decisions about their own pay. 

"I will be be taking a convenient comfort break when the vote happens," he said. 

Although the NDP members on the committee voted in favour of the rollback, MLA Brian Mason said the measure sends the wrong message.

"They always ask the working families, the middle class families of this province, to pay the price of deficit, which was created by tax cuts for the wealthiest Albertans," he said. 

Prentice said the five-per-cent salary cut would save the government $600,000.

The pay of MLAs will now be just over $127,000 a year. Prentice will earn $207,000 and cabinet ministers will make nearly $191,000.

Although the savings are tiny compared to Alberta’s $7-billion revenue shortfall, many believe Prentice is using the measure to push public sector unions towards salary rollbacks.

With files from the Canadian Press

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