The Houston government introduced amendments to the House of Assembly Act today that will prevent MLAs from receiving pay raises recommended by an Independent review panel. The amendments, which are expected to be supported by all political parties, would also see Premier Tim Houston take a voluntary pay cut of $11,246.01.
The recommendations made by the three-person review panel are binding on politicians under the current wording in the legislation; that’s why the government is proposing a change. The panel recommended 55 politicians, including Houston, receive a 12.4% increase in their base salary. This works out to $11,246.01 for each MLA and is in line with the salary increases paid to provincial civil servants from 2014 to the present.
MLAs currently earn $89,234, an amount that has not changed since 2014.
In introducing the bill, which is expected to pass later this week, Education Minister Becky Druhan said:
Now is not the time to increase compensation for MLAs. Nova Scotians are facing record high inflation and many people are having a hard time financially. As elected officials, our compensation needs to reflect the current state of the economy.
Susan Leblanc is the NDP elected representative for Dartmouth North. She was asked for her opinion on the Bill to reject raises for elected officials.
“We support this bill,” replied Leblanc. “In the NDP we agree it is not the time for MLAs to take a pay raise. I’m concerned, though, it does nothing to address some of the other important recommendations from the panel, namely a fund for child care of MLAs and also no mention of discussion about a Mi’kmaw seat in the legislature.”
And what about the premier’s voluntary pay cut?
“Well, Houston is one of the highest paid premiers in the country (he earns roughly $202,000 a year) and we have a very small population in Nova Scotia, so I think that is very appropriate,” replied Leblanc. “I think the way the salary cut has been described, that he is standing in solidarity with Nova Scotians, I think that is a bit much. I don’t think that is why that’s happening. I think it is a bit of political grandstanding but the decision is appropriate.”