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I cannot believe this supposed learned panel could get so many things wrong in their final report. First I admit I do not know the boundaries of their mandate but I assume it was all encompassing. Two of the panel members were keepers of the public purse, yet seem to have forgotten this. As to salaries, why is the Premier’s near the top end of the country as per MacLean’s August 2013 report? MPs salaries are likely in the same position. Given the small land mass and population of less than one million, Nova Scotians cannot afford to pay politicians top dollar. We cannot pay more than Quebec, B.C., Saskatchewan and others. While we are very similar to New Brunswick, there is a salary differentiation of almost $20,000. This may also be true of the MLA salaries. I did not see a mention of any adjustment to the various increases paid to the leader of the opposition, party leaders, whips, etc. MLAs could be considered mid-level management in private industry and as part of their jobs are expected to be on various committees, without extra compensation. Our MLAs get extra pay for being on a committee and are even given extra dollars for just showing up for a meeting. The mileage allowance is also quite generous and certainly discourages the use of public transport or car pooling. Most mystifying is the tinkering of the pension plan. Not only is it overly generous, it is totally absurd as an MLS is now tenured after 2 short years. This is totally unjustified, especially as a large number of these people were provincial employees prior to election and intend to return to their guaranteed jobs when defeated or retired. There is absolutely justification for this change as their explanation made no sense for the everyday Nova Scotian. And the pension contributions were left unchanged. Utterly ridiculous. At best, it should be on a 1:1 basis, which is still overly generous when compared to private industry. Why was this not changed? So a government selected panel has provided more than generous compensation standards to the government, which has been adopted retroactively. Now our good Premier can stand up and say “not my doing” when quizzed about MLA salaries. The government keeps crying poor, programs and services are being cut and our debt continues to grow, however those at the top will not tighten their belts, feeling entitled to more and more. The question is, How long can we continue in this manner? I guess at the next election or when the government finally realizes it is bankrupt. Then a Bankruptcy Trustee will take McNeil’s seat at the head of the table and hopefully make decisions for the benefit of Nova Scotians
Richard Randall | April 24, 2014 | Reply
Let us hope the entire compensation package is reviewed. If anyone has tried to digest the various payments receive, they will truly be astonished. I thought an MLA received an above average Nova Scotia salary, but as I looked further, noted an extra stipend is paid just attend meetings, extra dollars for being on a committee, more dollars if you chair a committee or are the party WHIP and more dollars for absolutely everything they do. In private industry, that is just part of the job requirement and is expected if you wish to retain that job. While the panel members reviewing this issue are competent, I am disappointed the average man is not represented. A shame but I guess that is politics.
Richard Randall | April 1, 2014 | Reply
As usual this examination is thorough and on the point; most certainly winning a seat should not be the equalivent of winning some million dollar plus lottery and the sooner that is recoganized AND ACCEPTED the better of we will ALL be for it..
bob mackenzie | January 18, 2014 | Reply
Your latest article on NS MLA compensation was enlightening. It reinforced a concern where I do not believe the province can afford almost ‘any’ aspect of the government it has given the change in demographics and general income levels. There should be skid marks before the province hits the wall yet sadly this doesn’t seem possible. More generally, one is left with the impression that the Gov’t is wed to norms of the past, as opposed to being in the vanguard of those embracing the future and as such becoming truly world class across key success measures such as youth employment, investment attraction, and the like. How can a meaningful conversation be started ?
J | January 17, 2014 | Reply
Another review into MLA compensation is like trying to build a sand castle at high tide.
We constantly let governments off the hook. We need radical change, radical thinking.
What we need is an action oriented objective. Something that defines what we want at the end. Something other than a “review”. Only Government could do review after review and achieve so little.
Try this— Devise strategies that will reduce the cost of the legislative branch of government by 40% by 2018.
If reduction of pension costs are part of the solution, so be it. If reduction in the number of MLA’s is part of the solution so be it.
Maybe our politicians should be paid based on performance. (That alone would reduce our MLA expenses by 90%.) Unless, of course, we let our politicians define the measurements of performance then MLA expenses would double.
Barry H | January 13, 2014 | Reply
Didn’t we deal with this issue in a previous New Start?
We all know the answer, so let’s correct matters to something more ‘representative’.
gordon a... | January 13, 2014 | Reply
I’m in pretty well total agreement with you here. We need some more of our ablest citizens to devote part of their lives to elected public service, as you were prepared to do a few years ago. In this regard business organizations, and professional firms (law etc) should have programslike the teacher’s one you mentioned to encourage some of their people to be able to dedicate years to politics and then return to their profession at an appropriate level of seniority. This would be appropriate “giving back” . And furthermore these folks would learn a great deal about how government operates that would be of great value in furthering their careers. We need folks form all walks of life in active political service.
Rob Smith | January 10, 2014 | Reply
In Nova Scotia, MLAs working in cabinet have a truly full time job while an ordinary MLA’s job is essentially part time work. The stories we hear about how much work is done in the constituency between legislative sessions are greatly exaggerated and should be viewed as a form of self-promotion.
As far as how hard it is to integrate back into the regular work force, there are two arguments: first, as you stated, most MLAs elected in their fifties probably never had any intention of returning to their regular work. Second, the best argument to the “interrupted careers claim” is term limits.
If every new MLA knew that he would be returning to the regular work ranks after politics, say within eight years, he would take special pains to maintain contacts and to keep abreast of new developments in his line of work. For those coming from the public sector, there would be no concern about life after politics because they can, more or less, return to their old jobs.
In most cases, the major part of the adjustment would be to down scale life styles which became a new habit due to the loss of this high paying, essentially part time job.
With term limits, the need to provide a massive pension would disappear.
What our politicians get paid is out of all proportion to the so-called sacrifices they make.
Their pensions are simply too rich for the quality and quantity of work they do on our behalf.
Jon Coates | January 10, 2014 | Reply
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