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Watchdog calls for end to ‘gold-plated’ $20 million MLA pensions

FILE - B.C. Legislature in Victoria. (Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130 Photo)

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for changes to address what it calls 'gold-plated' MLA pensions

The CTF estimates the pensions for 16 outgoing MLAs will cost British Columbians more than $20 million

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Sixteen retiring B.C. MLAs will cost taxpayers more than $20 million in pensions, according to a taxpayer watchdog.

Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says the “gold-plated” pensions are unaffordable and that MLAs need to reform their plans.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” she says in a release.

An average British Columbian taxpayer contributes four times as much as the MLAs to their pension plans, the federation estimates.

“There’s no justification for taxpayers to put in $4 for every $1 an MLA chips in,” Sims adds.

Retiring legislators are also allowed to claim up to 15 months of salary while searching for a new job if they’ve served a full term, the federation points out, adding MLAs can also get up to $9,000 covered for further skills training.

MLA pensions are calculated by adding their highest earning years and the number of years they’ve spent serving in the Legislature.

Linda Reid, former speaker of the B.C. Legislature and Liberal MLA since 1991, is expected to collect a pension of about $107,000 per year once she turns 65, the CTF says, totalling roughly $2.6 million.

Former Deputy Premier Rich Coleman will earn $109,000 per year in pensions, the highest among the 16 legislators retiring after this current term.

The seven retiring NDP Cabinet ministers will take home almost $70,000 each, with Claire Travena, Shane Simpson, and Scott Fraser earning nearly $2 million for their service.