MLAs got a raise with little fanfare

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Many Islanders might have forgotten it was coming, but on April 1 their representatives in the legislative assembly got a raise.

It came after the Indemnities and Allowances Commission issued its report in November and decided MLAs should get a 0.75 per cent raised.

The actual amount of an increase each MLA will get varies because some get extra compensation, such as cabinet ministers, but the base salary went up by $506.

What it means is the salaries range from $67,906 for an MLA with no additional pay to $141,655 for Premier Robert Ghiz.

Even with the raise they are also still the lowest paid MLAs in the country.

The Indemnities and Allowances Commission issues a report every year and every time it decides a pay raise is in order for MLAs there is a public outcry over politicians getting more money than some feel they deserve.

But if Islanders don’t like the current method of deciding if raises are due then what are the options?

There is likely little public appetite for P.E.I.’s MLAs deciding how much of a raise they should get and if the politicians listened to Islanders their salaries would never go up.

That’s not realistic and a permanent salary freeze is never going to happen.

As it stands, the only way MLAs can overrule the independent Indemnities and Allowances Commission to keep from getting a raise is by a changing the Legislative Assembly Act.

What that means is MLAs don’t give themselves a raise but they can decline it, which has happened in recent years.

MLA salaries stayed the same from 2009 to 2013.

Last year Ghiz mused about scrapping the commission and tying pay raises to the average civil servant pay increases.

That idea didn’t go over well either and he never followed through on it.

MLAs could tie their salaries to inflation, but with many Islanders not getting cost of living increases in their pay, that idea might not be all that popular either.

Those are just a couple of options and I’m sure there are lots of other ways that could be used to determine MLA salaries, if someone felt there was a need to change how it’s handled.

In determining a pay raise was warranted, the Indemnities and Allowances Commission looked at six factors it considered relevant, including MLA pay in the other provinces and territories, a review of the consumer price index and submissions from the public.

So here we are with MLAs getting a small pay raise and until someone comes up with a better system Islanders might as well get used to the annual debate over salary increases becoming a new tradition.

CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC DETAILING P.E.I. MLA'S SALARIES

MLA salaries as of April 1, 2014:

-       MLA - $67,906

-       Premier - $141,655

-       Minister - $115,359

-       Speaker - $107,803

-       Deputy speaker - $87,855

-       Leader of the Opposition - $115,359

-       Government house leader - $80,701

-       Opposition house leader - $72,339

-       Government or Opposition whip - $71,634

-       Non-ministerial member of executive council committees - $74,153

-       Leader of a third party - $86,847

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