© Guardian photo
Province House in Charlottetown was the site of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference and is where the provincial government sits. Province House is operated by Parks Canada.
P.E.I.’s MLAs will be making a little more money next year after the group that reviews their salaries decided they should get a raise.
In a report tabled in the legislature today, the Indemnities and Allowances Commission determined MLAs should get a 0.75 per cent pay raise starting April 1, 2014.
That will increase the base MLA salary from $67,400 to $67,906.
It also means Premier Robert Ghiz will see his salary increase from $140,600 to $141,655 while cabinet ministers and Opposition Leader Steven Myers will make $115,359.
Ghiz said he talked about tying any raises to the average of the provincial unions last year, but that idea wasn’t popular so the commission is the best system in place.
“Since this is an independent commission we’ll respect it,” he said.
The commission, which is independent of the legislative assembly, said it received 16 submissions that recommended against a pay raise, but it based its decision on the increase in the consumer price index, collective bargaining agreements and a comparison of MLA salaries to those in other jurisdictions.
P.E.I.’s MLAs are the lowest paid in the country, followed by New Brunswick where they are paid $85,000 per year and Manitoba where they make $85,564.
Alberta’s MLAs are the highest paid at $134,000 per year.
Most of P.E.I.’s MLAs make more than the base salary, such as the speaker, house leaders, whips and non-ministerial members of executive council committees.
Now that the commission released its report, MLAs would have to pass legislation to stop the raises.
Ghiz said it’s an issue that comes up every year and whether the government freezes or doesn’t freeze salaries it would be criticized.
“I think that if you want to, in the future, attract people you need to make sure these salaries are growing in line with what’s happening in other professions or you’re going to have trouble attracting people,” he said.
For Opposition Leader Steven Myers, he said his thoughts on the pay raises haven’t changed since last year when he was against them.
“I don’t know if now is a good time,” he said.
Myers said he wasn’t discounting the work the independent commission did, but MLAs have a responsibility to taxpayers to run the province in the most cost effective way possible.
“Giving raises to MLAs probably isn’t a good idea at a time of fiscal austerity,” he said.
The commission is also reviewing the MLAs’ pension plan and will report its decision on or before March 1, 2014.
Barbara Stevenson, Stan MacPherson and Ron Profit were the commissioners who completed the review.