Nfld. & Labrador

Painting a pension picture for defeated Newfoundland MPs

The three incumbent Newfoundland and Labrador MPs who went down to defeat in Monday's federal election face varying circumstances when it comes to their pension entitlements.

Harris starts collecting right away; Andrews has 14-year wait; Cleary leaves with no pension

Three incumbent MPs went down to defeat in N.L. during Monday's federal election. They include, from left, New Democrats Ryan Cleary and Jack Harris and Independent Scott Andrews.

The three incumbent Newfoundland and Labrador MPs who went down to defeat in Monday's election face varying circumstances when it comes to their federal pension entitlements.

New Democrat Jack Harris, who lost a close race in St. John's East, turns 67 later this month and will begin receiving a pension immediately.

The annual sum? Roughly $35,000.

That's on top of a provincial pension he earned while serving as a Member of the House of Assembly from 1990 to 2006. All but two of those years were as leader of the provincial New Democrats.

Independent Scott Andrews, who finished a distant second in Avalon, is eligible to receive a similar pension, but will have to wait another 14 years. 

Andrews is just 41, and won't be entitled to receive a pension until he turns 55 years-of-age.

Both Harris and Andrews were elected in 2008, putting them just above the threshold of six years service required to qualify for a pension.

Cleary, however, has just four years service as an MP, having been elected to represent the NDP in St. John's South-Mount Pearl in 2011, and does not qualify.

Cleary lost to Liberal challenger Seamus O'Regan.

A formula for MP pensions

So how is the pension amount determined?

According to the Office of the Speaker in the House of Commons, it breaks down like this.

A pension amount is based on an MPs average annual salary over the five highest paid consecutive years of service.

This figure is multiplied by their total number of years of pensionable service, and by an accrual rate of about three percent.

The base salary for an MP in 2015 is $167,400, plus additional salary of anywhere from $6,000 to $80,000 for additional duties, including a cabinet minister.

So for a typical MP earning the base salary, and with the minimum service of six years, they would receive an annual pension of just over $30,000.

Harris and Andrews both have seven years of pensionable service.

However, a long-serving MP who served in cabinet can be entitled to a pension of more than $100,000 per year.

Neither Harris nor Cleary could be reached for comment on Tuesday, while Andrews told CBC News, "I'm not interested in participating in such a piece."

Meanwhile, Andrews and Cleary are not walking away empty-handed.

They will both receive a severance allowance of more than $80,000, representing 50 per cent of their MP salary.

And since he does not qualify for a pension, Cleary will also receive a withdrawal allowance, which is a lump sum payment comprised of Cleary's total retirement contributions, plus interest.

About the Author

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.

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