Dozens of MPs also collecting government pensions

Dozens of MPs are collecting thousands of dollars a year in pensions — several of them from the same federal government that issues their six-figure paycheques, CBC News has learned.

While roughly half are at least 65, some of the double-dippers are as young as 48

Transport Minister Marc Garneau is getting two pension cheques, in addition to his salary as an MP and cabinet minister. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Dozens of members of Parliament are collecting thousands of dollars a year in pensions — several of them from the same federal government that issues their six-figure paycheques, CBC News has learned.

A CBC analysis of the ethics filings of Canada's 338 MPs found that 36 MPs reported receiving pension income on top of their salaries. Nearly 20 per cent of those MPs were getting pensions from either the federal government or the Canadian Armed Forces.

Most of the 36 MPs are getting pensions from various levels of government or public service jobs. Only two MPs are receiving pensions from private sector companies: New Democrat Scott Duvall, who gets a pension from steel producer ArcelorMittal Dofasco, and Conservative Peter Kent, 74, who gets a pension from Global Communications.

One MP, 72-year-old Liberal Ramesh Sangha, is collecting a pension from India's air force.

While roughly half are 65 years or older, some of the double-dippers are as young as 48.

Under the rules for ethics filings, MPs are supposed to advise Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson if they receive more than $10,000 in pension income per year.

The current annual salary for members of Parliament is $172,700, while cabinet ministers earn a total of $255,300.

Views vary on whether an MP should be getting a pension cheque with one hand, and a paycheque with the other.

Some MPs, like former NDP MP Jim Maloway, have elected to not receive pensions from past jobs while sitting in the House of Commons. Others, like Liberal MP John McKay, 69, who began collecting his Canada Pension Plan benefits at 65, point out that MPs are simply collecting the pensions they earned.

"I can't imagine why anyone would begrudge anyone else for money that they have actually earned," he said.

Brampton Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha gets a pension from India's air force. (Submitted: Carey Miller)

Federal public servants who return to the federal government after retiring face restrictions. Those who take a job where they are again contributing to the pension plan must suspend their pension cheques while serving in those positions. 

The government's contracting policy calls for contracts awarded to retired public servants collecting a pension to "bear the closest public scrutiny."

Those rules, however, don't apply to members of Parliament who have their own, separate pension plan.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau, 68, who was a naval officer, then an astronaut before becoming executive vice-president of the Canadian Space Agency, is getting two federal pensions in addition to his paycheque: one from the Canadian Armed Forces and the second from the Canadian government.

Garneau's office was tight-lipped when asked about his pensions.

"The Minister receives a pension for the time he has served as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces," communications director Marc Roy wrote in an email. "As per the Code for Members and the Conflict of Interest Act, all the rules in terms of disclosure and divestment are appropriately followed."

In addition to Garneau, three other MPs are collecting pensions from the Canadian Armed Forces: Liberal Andrew Leslie (a retired lieutenant-general), Liberal Karen McCrimmon, 58, (who retired as a lieutenant-colonel after 31 years in the military) and Liberal Stephen Fuhr, 48, (a former CF-18 fighter pilot).

Two other MPs, who ran for Parliament after careers in the federal public service are also collecting pensions. NDP MP Hélène Laverdière, 62, was a career diplomat, while Conservative Guy Lauzon, 73, worked for the Canadian government for 23 years.

Provincial payouts

Several MPs are collecting pensions resulting from previous stints as provincial politicians.

Three MPs are collecting pensions from the Manitoba Legislative Assembly: Conservative Larry Maguire, 68, as well as Liberals MaryAnn Mihychuk, 62 and Kevin Lamoureux, 55.

Conservative MP Larry Maguire is one of three MPs getting a pension from the Manitoba legislature. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

Yvonne Jones, 49, collects benefits from the pension fund of the Members of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, while Public Services Minister Judy Foote, 65, reported a pension from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, 62, has a pension from Quebec's National Assembly, where he served for more than 12 years. And Robert Morrissey, 62, who served as a provincial MLA for nearly 20 years, collects a pension from the P.E.I. government.

In some cases, the pensions result from jobs as provincial government employees. The B.C. government is paying pensions to NDP MP Wayne Stetski, 65, and Liberal MP Ken Hardie, 70. The Northwest Territories government is writing pension cheques to Michael McLeod, 57.

The pension fund for retired Quebec public servants makes payments to Bloc Québécois MP Louis Plamondon, 74, who was a math teacher before entering politics in 1984. His colleague, Bloc MP Monique Pauzé, also gets pension payments from the Quebec government, as do Liberals Yves Robillard, 75, and Jean Rioux, 64 — all former teachers.

Liberal Darrell Samson, 58, gets a pension from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, while Conservatives Martin Shields, 69, reported income from the Alberta Teachers pension plan, and Earl Dreeshen, 64, from the Chinook's Edge board.

The British Columbia College Pension Plan counts New Democrat Randall Garrison, 65 and Conservative Alice Wong, 69, among its pensioners.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair receives a pension from Quebec's National Assembly, where he served for more than 12 years. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Liberal John Oliver, 61, former president and CEO of Halton Healthcare, collects a pension from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.

Four MPs are collecting cheques from OMERS (the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System): Conservatives John Brassard, 59, and Dave MacKenzie, as well as Liberals Bob Bratina, 73 and Bill Blair, 63, Toronto's former police chief.

Conservative Glen Motz, 59, benefits from the Special Forces Pension Plan for retired Alberta police officers.

Aaron Wudrick, of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said he doesn't have a problem with MPs collecting pensions they've earned, but the government should look at the question of whether an MP should be eligible for taxpayer-funded pension payments while they are still getting a salary.

"If you're the constituent of an MP that is receiving a taxpayer-funded pension and receiving a taxpayer-funded salary, I think you would be right to say, 'Is this really reasonable when me and many other constituents … don't get any pension at all from our employer.'" 

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca.

About the Author

Elizabeth Thompson

Senior Reporter

Award-winning reporter Elizabeth Thompson covers Parliament Hill. A veteran of the Montreal Gazette, Sun Media and iPolitics, she currently works with the CBC's Ottawa bureau, specializing in investigative reporting and data journalism. She can be reached at: elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca.


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