Letters to the editor – November 7, 2019

Alberta MLAs’ salaries should be reduced

Re: “Better pay for MLAs would improve quality of candidates,” (WP, Oct. 24).

It must be some sort of tradition that shortly after every provincial election MLA’s salaries make it to the top of the political radar screen. And voters start to wonder how much MLAs make, plus what sorts of perks, expenses, car allowances, benefits, and retirement packages their MLAs get.

As new MLAs are elected, voters start to feel that it’s the “same old, same old,” and wonder if we are getting real value for our tax dollars. New budgets also beget this sort of pondering. As election promises repeatedly get broken, we realize our tax dollars are being wantonly wasted by the MLAs we just elected.

The opinion piece “Better pay for MLAs would improve quality of candidates” by Marco Navarro-Genie of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy again brings to mind daveberta.ca’s (Dec 30/2013) article, “Why none of Alberta’s 87 MLAs deserved to be listed as a top MLA of 2013.” However, there is at least one oversight since that daveberta article. Wes Taylor, MLA for Battle River/ Wainwright was remarkably exceptional, until his health gave way, and he had to retire in 2018. Those will be hard shoes to fill.

Alberta had 87 MLAs in 2013. Alberta still has 87 MLAs in 2019. Still the same run-of the-mill former teachers, technicians, social workers, business owners, lawyers, etc. These MLAs would have the public believe that in addition to the roughly 60 days a year they sit in the legislature, they work very hard in their constituencies. But, the most we seem to see of our MLAs are their photo ops and the updates in local weekly papers. These updates all have the typical final paragraph, telling constituents to call them any time with any concerns or questions. But any attempted contacts usually get an answering machine, or at best, an automatic form-email response, saying, your concerns have been forwarded… we are doing a survey… have struck a committee, etc.

Alberta MLAs’ salaries, since the recent cuts by Premier Jason Kenney, fell five percent to $181,399 (i.e. $120,931 plus the $60,468 cabinet compensations, and allowances for committees, chairing committees, ministerial appointments, etc., which range from $27,216 for opposition leaders, to $60,468 for speaker). Kenney’s salary fell 10 percent from $206,956 to $186,170. But these salaries seem like a mere pittance compared to our bloated Education Deputy Minister Curtis Clarke’s salary of $358,522, the chief medical officer’s $571,000, and the Alberta Electric System Operator’s retiring chief executive officer David Erickson’s $926,976.

Needless to say, instead of Navarro-Genie pushing for better pay for MLAs, Kenney’s token cuts should only be a very modest beginning to serious cuts at the top, as thousands of Albertans are currently jobless, and food-bank-users increase.

Serious cuts to all of Alberta’s obscene top public sector salaries, and the hundreds on our extensive Sunshine List are long overdue.

M. R. Leithead

Bawlf, Alta.

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