MLA salaries under scrutiny

Handling of issue has been “shockingly inept” says political scientist

Salaries and benefits for Alberta MLAs will be put under a microscope by an independent committee. The motion introduced by Liberal MLA Bridget Pastoor and receiving unanimous approval in the legislature will compare elected officials’ pay to other politicians in various jurisdictions. Until now Alberta MLAs determined their own pay increases.

Shortly after the 2008 election the premier and cabinet ministers increased their salaries between 30 and 34 per cent in a closed-door meeting. The raise put Stelmach as the highest-paid premier in the country at $213000. Cabinet ministers earn roughly $184000 a year and MLAs receive a $78138-base salary — one-third of which is nontaxable. Last year the premier and cabinet ministers bowed to public pressure and rolled backed their salaries six and three per cent respectively.

The handling of the pay raise and subsequent claw back was “shockingly inept” says Keith Brownsey a political scientist at Mount Royal University. This review pricess will be fair because there are plenty MLAs of all political stripes committed to reviewing MLA salaries he says. Stacking the committee “would be so profoundly stupid that the Conservatives would simply paint themselves further into a corner” he added.