Departing P.E.I. MLAs receive thousands in severence

Teresa Wright
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Prince Edward Island taxpayers will foot bill for more than $376,000 in payouts

Severances to be paid to MLAs not reoffering in 2015 election:
Robert Ghiz - $68,721
Wes Sheridan - $68,721
George Webster - $68,721
Carolyn Bertram - $68,721
Gerard Greenan - $50,028
Olive Crane - $51,540

Wes Sheridan, Minister of Finance, Energy, and Municipal Affairs, delivers the 2013/14 provincial budget in the Legislative Assembly as Carolyn Bertram, Speaker of the House, looks on.

Taxpayers in Prince Edward Island will be paying out more than $376,000 in severance to Premier Robert Ghiz and the five other MLAs who have announced they will not run in the 2015 election.

And this amount may grow if more MLAs choose not to reoffer or if any sitting MLAs are defeated in the upcoming provincial election.


That’s because every elected MLA in P.E.I. is entitled to severance pay when they exit office, regardless of whether they are booted out in an election defeat, if they resign or if they simply choose to exit politics.

There is a cap on the amount paid in severance to each MLA, equal to the base pay for all elected members at the time they leave office.

Ghiz has been in office for 12 years, so he will receive the maximum severance amount of $68,721 when he resigns next month.

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan, Deputy Premier George Webster and Speaker Carolyn Bertram, who have announced they will not run in the upcoming election, will also receive this $68,721 maximum severance.

Summerside-Wilmot MLA Gerard Greenan will receive a little less than his caucus colleagues when he too retires from politics, since he is not in cabinet. But he is a member of one of the executive council committees, so that helps top up his severance to $50,028. Independent MLA Olive Crane will receive slightly more than Greenan at $51,540, with more time in office.

MLAs in P.E.I. are entitled to one month of pay for every year they have been elected. This is calculated based on the salary the MLA has at the time they leave office or an election is called. From the way the legislation is worded, it appears there is almost no way for an MLA to leave the P.E.I. legislative assembly without getting a generous severance package.

That’s something the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would like to see changed. Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director for the federation, says he believes MLAs should be only be entitled to severance if they are defeated in an election.

“A politician should be entitled to severance, especially if they are defeated. The issue here is, first, that they are entitled to severance if they quit and second, the sheer richness of the severances.”

These severance packages are paid out on top of the pensions MLAs earn while in office, which are also almost wholly funded by taxpayers.

“They’re getting gold-plated MLA pensions, so the two of them make for a very, very rich plan and plans that average taxpayers who are paying for these plans largely don’t have,” Lacey said.

In New Brunswick, MLA severances are capped at six months of their annual base salary, compared to P.E.I.’s full year cap. N.B. MLAs can also only collect one month’s severance if they are eligible for their MLA pension when they leave office.

P.E.I. should change its severance package to reflect New Brunswick’s, Lacey said. P.E.I. should also disallow any severance payments to MLAs who leave office only to be re-hired as staffers or appointed to government boards or agencies, he added.

For example, former Innovation Minister Allan Campbell was defeated in the 2011 election, and was eligible to receive a severance of approximately $37,010. He was promptly hired after that election as Ghiz’s chief of staff, at a salary range of between $121,014 and $133,741 a year.

“The severance is intended to help you transition from being an MLA to getting a job. What it’s not intended to do is pay out a bonus only for you to collect another government cheque in a few weeks’ time,” Lacey said.

“It defeats the whole purpose of severance and severance shouldn’t be allotted for that.”

Since 2007, P.E.I. taxpayers have paid a total of approximately over $1.6 million in severance to defeated or retiring MLAs.

No one from government would comment directly on this story. All figures quoted were calculated and compiled by The Guardian using information available on the P.E.I. government website.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 30, 2015 - 13:01

    Future Generation or whoever you really are - Ignoring my rant does not change the truth. Your statement (rant) "nobody with any sense running for public office would attempt what you are implying" , what you are really saying amplifies and reveals the problem. Your next statement makes no sense "Nor is that even a fundamental problem". I ask - nor is 'what' a fundamental problem? I do not speak rhetoric, look up the meaning. I speak truth. They all talk about the debt - but nobody wants to take the bull by the horns and go against the party wishes. What about the public wishes? What about the breaches of public trust that occurred when Aylward was in as an MLA? Why did he do nothing? I will offer a guess based on public observation. He had ambitions to advance - first in the Party, then as Premier. I am looking for a leader that will put the people's interests first, not personal ambition. It is impossible in this current corrupted system. The system needs to change. Who is Premier makes no difference because none of them will tackle the debt. They just want us to think they care, and maybe they do really care, at first, but the system doesn't care, and you cannot change it from within. Many with good intentions have tried.

  • ripped off by gov
    January 30, 2015 - 09:43

    they only resigned their position so they can get positions within the liberal mafia federal or provincial if any win the next election.. ghiz earned well deserved recognition of the worst premier in Canada.. I thought montreal was corrupt pfff they have nothing on pei politics

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 29, 2015 - 18:16

    In a bankrupt province, this is just kicking the little guy in the face, then rubbing salt in the wounds. I am sick of you all, not just the way you take care of your own, but in the MESS you leave for others to fix. But wait, if we don't change the system, systemic problems such as this (countless others) will continue, and grow exponentially. Remember people, it is worse than it looks. We, the people of PEI, MUST BORROW every single one of those dollars paid out and we must pay interest also. It should be criminal. What do you do when the law makers become the law breakers?

  • dj
    January 29, 2015 - 14:37

    I too, believe that if they quit their jobs that they shouldn't receive severance package. I'm thinking about all the children that this money could feed so, they don't go to bed hungry or go half dresses on the coldest day of the winter because, their families can't afford to buy winter clothing or the elder person that has to choose between food or their medication. We have univerity students drowning in debt, choose food or a book they need for a class!If they can go to bed at night with a full belly ,snug and warm and not feel bad for the unfair use of this money!! Shame ,shame on them.

  • reality
    January 29, 2015 - 14:12

    Sounds like the PNP all over again!!!! any politician -past present or future should not suck money out of people like they do !!! --Notice many of these people hold down other jobs and are a politician spare time !!! GREED !!!

  • Kolbi
    January 29, 2015 - 12:08

    Mike, just a couple of points. Neither Ghiz nor any of the other cabinet members or MLAs are of CEO quality, as witnessed by the poor decisions, the losses incurred and the debt they have created. They would have not been hired in the first place, and certainly out the door after the results. Their talents and efforts have had great success in helping themselves, friends and family, and overall feathering of their own nests as public expense, not usually done in the private sector to that extend, where a boss sets the rules. Secondly cabinet ministers don't have a clue, and dance in there putting themselves in the hands of politicized deputies that run the show as they see fit, the ministers become prisoners of what the deputies decides except when liberal patronage takers and political influence peddlers trumphs the deputies. The become beholden as the 'secrets' pile up, and buy the silence by further piling on the pay and benefits for 'their managers'. There is no shortage of people wanting the jobs, and no wonder. For the tax base available this circus is not sustainable, even if ethically we are prepared to swallow it. Since courage fails us to vote for better government, I hope we don't choke on the garbage we are preparing to eat.

  • Allie Carver
    January 29, 2015 - 11:20

    If you believe Ghiz is akin to a "CEO" of a billion dollar corporation than my major points of contention would be his rather abysmal financial record tl;dr: He tripled our debt! Now what about the PNP(don't really know what to call this; scam, fraud, conspiracy, heap of steaming bullshit)? Evidence of Ghiz at al. being tied to upwards of 100 MILLION. Oh, wait... come to think of it he's sounding more like a CEO by the minute.

  • Truth be Known
    January 29, 2015 - 11:01

    They earn every penny!

    • dj
      January 29, 2015 - 14:58

      I hope you are joking if not, give your head a shake please !!!!!!!!!!

  • Meme
    January 29, 2015 - 10:51

    What I fail to understand, is this. They receive severance for which we as a province pay for, they implemented HST! It angers me to no end that when I am looking to build a new home, within the quote, is an estimate for almost $40,000 HST. That is the equivalent of $235 more per month on a 25 year mortgage! But hey, they got severance!! Go figure

  • Mike
    January 29, 2015 - 09:40

    The severance is reasonable based on the salaries and the positions. For the people who are whining and complaining I just say put your name on the ballot and either accept the severance after you have walked a mile in their shoes or else change the system. I love the whiners and complainers who say this is to much but yet have done nothing about it or have ever been elected. The Premier is equal to any CEO of a Billion dollar company and those CEO's would be getting much more then $68,000. Everyone makes their own choices as to what job they apply for so lets see some of the whiners and complainers apply for the job of an MLA or the Premier. Either put up or shut up!!

    • Fed up
      January 29, 2015 - 12:27

      We are a laughing stock all over....if these people had DONE anything to deserve it...instead of putting us in the deepest debt ever, it would STILL not be right!! Some Democracy! They make their own rules...quit when they want...set the amount of severance...even though they QUIT?!? They bring in only ONE person to run for the leadership?...we are paying TWO Premier's wonder we are being laughed at! It's OUR money...they put us IN DEBT.... And are getting away with quitting....why not? Full pension...$70,000 severance...I would QUIT too! At least the MLA's are staying their term. Our Premier isn't even doing THAT! The new guy must be offered something fabulous. He has lots of his own money...big pension from the University... Retirement age...but taking on leadership of a failing party! isn't that he did anything for our University...except put IT in debt. Guess he's in the right garden...all good at spending OUR money!!

    • SlyFox
      January 29, 2015 - 13:41

      Mike- i would agree with you if they were doing a good job.But we Islanders have to pay for their mistakes and the debt is around 3.5 Billion now.Oh also Mike what is the severance for a CEO on a bankrupt company?

    • huh
      January 29, 2015 - 14:04

      We are the laughing stock are we. In a country with Kathleen Wynne, Dalton McGinty, Rob Ford and Allison Redford, I am pretty sure PEI politics are not exactly on the rest of the country's mind.

  • up easterner
    January 29, 2015 - 09:33

    You miserable bunch of Crooks! You have Ghiz.Curry ,Sheridan and the rest of thiefs go on and on about no more money to help YOUNG PEOPLE and OUR SENIORS and yet they think nothing off walking off with this. All I have to say is,try to save some money for a GOOD AIR CONDITIONER because your all going to need one when you leave your crooked lifes behind!!! DON'T FOOL YOURSELVES THERE IS A GLORIOUS DAY WAITING FOR YOU STOKING THE FIRE!!!!

  • Their Choice?
    January 29, 2015 - 09:30

    If it was their choice to call it quits and not run again why is there even talk of severance pay? I'm going to go to work tomorrow and tell me boss I don't want to work anymore but expect a year's salary? Quite confident I'd be told where the door is like almost anyone. Politics on PEI are an absolute disgrace and I sincerely hope the next government has the sense to make some drastic but much needed changes! Severance is a major problem but lets start from the top - 27 well paid MLA's to represent 140,000 people - lets get real here.

  • WOW
    January 29, 2015 - 09:22

    No wonder these people don't want Maritime Union . What a ripoff we Islanders are getting & we haven't the brains or gut's to put a stop to it . This is just one example of how stupid PEIslanders are . A election coming , it's time to stand up & be counted & stop this robbery .

  • Louise
    January 29, 2015 - 08:58

    Salaries, committee honorariums, pensions, severance pay and perks, --- no wonder people clamour to get elected. Most people could not make that on their own in the first place, and those that could are greedy enough to maximize their loot, and enjoy the power. On top of the above mentioned items, there is the not small issue of being first in line for political appointments to enhance the lifestyle after defeat or retirement. Case in point, retired politician and senior citizen and instrumental in Ghiz' leadership win, Nancy Guptill, sitting at the Worker Comp. hauling in an inflated CEO salary- and before her retired liberal MLA and senior citizen Arthur MacDonald hung in there as well. These abuses of power are abundant, look around you.. We are aiding and abetting these abuses by electing the same unscrupulous parties over and over again. Wake up for Pete's sake and vote them out to clean up their act. We have other choices, --- let us stop being too 'chicken' do something about it.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    January 29, 2015 - 08:43

    Well if you want to read something disgusting related to this , then do a Google search for ( Ghiz to leave with gold-plated pension ) Nice to know some one that quit and turned their back on the Island gets treated so well . Oh the humanity of it all , it's sad how these poor poor politicians get treated . Funny how a small little paper can find this info yet CBC and the Guardian didn't , guess they are not as impartial as they want us to believe .

    • huh
      January 29, 2015 - 11:26

      A politician gets a generous pension. Is that supposed to be some sort of scoop? Like, no one knew that before?

  • Outraged!
    January 29, 2015 - 08:42

    This is outrageous!! I work in payroll and I've seem some large severance packages, but NEVER a severance for someone who's stepped down (quit / resigned). It's not bad enough the large salaries they get with our tax dollars when they "work" but now they're getting paid to quit?!?

  • indigo
    January 29, 2015 - 08:42

    I remember the obscene pay-out by Binns,, when his deputies and other appointees left before the election, and were given hundred of thousands in severance. Some got more than $ 100.000. - look it up, they threw Binns out, but the money was gone. The new Ghiz crew that came in loved the prospect of such lavish prospects and iun the self-serving manner of politicians, did nothing to alleviate the tax-burden on the public by curtailing such abuse. I would love for the Guadian to tell us what the Premier's right hand man Chris LeClair received on his departure into a job to enjoy the fruits of Wes ' gambling venture. PEI is a dirty little nest, and we, the electorate do not have the sense or courage to clean that nest.

  • joseph
    January 29, 2015 - 08:35

    @ Guy Currie. Poor comparison, Ghiz would never have become CEO in ANY company, - and the same with many elected people. Only a fraction could have done better outside government on an salary and benefits basis. Some elected people carry on with their jobs and businesses., Some elected people are rich and seek public office for something to do, have a little fun and a little power, and let the deputies run the show, if they get as far as the Cabinet. The plain truth is that we have too many and they are overpaid and are bestowed with too many benefits besides. Every candidate should be questioned on this, - but best of all vote NDP and let's start fresh.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 30, 2015 - 13:13

      NDP at the federal level has been corrupted. Don't be fooled by smiley Tom. He's hiding behind big money, just like the rest on the Hill. Better yet, once all are seated, I would like to see each one stand, take their oath to the people of PEI, then turn independent. If enough courageous MLA's turned independent, out of concern for the public good, they could abolish the party politics system for good and replace it with a modern type of democracy, one where the individual gets to vote on everything our elected servants do. Impossible in the past, necessary for the future.

  • Gordie
    January 29, 2015 - 08:32

    Not much wonder we are so far in the ditch

  • Guy Currie
    January 29, 2015 - 07:58

    Fabricated controversy? The amount seems fair, reasonable and even (whisper this softly...conservative. If you would make a comparison to the private section, similar positions (i.e Premier vs CEO etc) this kind of severance is on the low end. I think article like this fuel the islander who stew and wait to get angry about something. Everyday they wait, and wait they do, to be ANGRY. It could be a pedestrian walking too slowly in a crosswalk or today's article... they'll continue to wait for something to be angry about. I call this Recreational Bitterness

  • Rotten
    January 29, 2015 - 07:56

    I have worked hard for 30 + years and am growing very disgusted, angry, and to say the least, fed up with this bull*!^#.....Overpaid political "figures"....when have any of you looked out for anyone, other than yourselves, farmers or fishermen. I have paid thousands and thousands and thousands into a system for everyone else, other than me or my family !!!!!! The government sucks - you deserve nothing - I have grown to hate all you do and all you are.........

    • To rotten
      January 29, 2015 - 08:50

      Read Guy Curries comment. For you - I would strongly advise some anger management.

  • indigo
    January 29, 2015 - 07:35

    PEI's compensation to politicians is outrageous . The salaries, committee bonuses, two layered pension and severance, ---- we are a poor Province, in debt to no end. Just wait till somebody calculated what the deputy ministers and political appointments like Alan Campbell will cash in if they leave nor are fired. This must stop, we have to insist that the new leaders remedy this, or simply vote NDP and get sense into the lay outs to a level we can afford. I think the Guardian should ask the leadership Candidates and the Premier to ben crowned, what their stand is on reforming these obscene remunerations, - if that is the right word for it, - more like gifts, or thefts.

  • Why
    January 29, 2015 - 07:32

    They wasted all our tax payers dollars no they are getting more money how wonderful , these folks deserve nothing , no pensions no severance just a pink slip that say fired by the tax payer

  • Stewart Smith
    January 29, 2015 - 07:22

    I hope they donate the money towards paying off some of the massive debt that they have borrowed in our name.

    • John Andrew
      February 09, 2015 - 12:31

      Ok Mr. Smith what's your solution. Its easy to complain, so what is the answer??

  • bert
    January 29, 2015 - 07:19

    They earned every penny, according to the rules. It is the next group that I am concerned and that is the senior compensation members. Mr. Ghiz gave them all a 50k raise in which will befactored in when ddetermining their severence and pension. This will be very costly to the taxpayer as Wade is going to clean house.

  • The King
    January 29, 2015 - 07:15

    This is absolutely disgusting. Criminal thievery at it's finest. No wonder this province is broke.

  • Are you kidding me?
    January 29, 2015 - 07:01

    Are you kidding me?!? That is a absolutely unbelievable that's around 4 years salary for a someone working full time on minimum wage. Pathetic that they get that much, they should be ordered to pay back everything.they've sucked out of this island.

  • Jelly Bean
    January 29, 2015 - 06:55

    The next time our gov't wants to raise taxes or increase fees or implement any other cost saving/generating move, this is the first thing that needs to go. If this doesn't happen it's because we, the people who own the money, allow it.

  • spudz
    January 29, 2015 - 06:17

    What a joke! I spent 20 years in the Canadian Forces, and was released after 20 years due to an injury I received serving in Bosnia. In the time I served, I was separated from my wife and family for a total of over 9 years (courses, training, and deployments). What did I receive for serving my country? Slightly over $20,000, which equals approx $1,000 for every year served. I would like to know just how you can justify the totals these people will be receiving.

    • Islander 1
      January 29, 2015 - 08:54

      They cannot justify it but pig at the trough can explain it they like a pig never know when too stop.

    • david
      January 29, 2015 - 09:43

      This was the choice you made you were not drafted into the Forces. You could have chosen to seek public office and either found out what it was like and received the severance or you could have changed the system. Better yet why not seek public office now you could use your past record as basis for getting elected.