The House of Commons in Ottawa. (The Canadian Press files)

MPs not running again will get paid around $1.6 million in severance

Sitting MPs who have served for less than six years are not eligible for pensions

Members of Parliament who have decided not to run for re-election this fall will cash in a cumulative $1.6 million in severance payments, and millions more will likely be paid out after the election.

Thirty-nine sitting MPs have declared they won’t run again in the next election, of whom 18 are eligible for severance payments totalling an estimated $1,618,850, according to an analysis by The Canadian Press.

Sitting MPs who have served for less than six years are not eligible for pensions, and instead receive a lump severance payment worth half their annual salary. They also get back any pension contributions they’ve already made, plus interest.

Members who have served for more than six years but are under 55 years of age, and thus not immediately eligible for pensions, will have that pension deferred and can take severance pay at a rate similar to their rookie colleagues.

The standard salary for MPs currently sits at $178,900 for 2019, meaning most sitting MPs receiving severance will walk away with just under $90,000 — money that gets paid even when they choose not to run.

Some MPs who hold higher offices are eligible for more money: the retiring Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, for example, is a parliamentary secretary and should receive about $9,000 in additional severance.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria MPs voted best of the bunch by peers

The total doesn’t include three Independent MPs — former Liberals Hunter Tootoo, Darshan Kang and Raj Grewal — who have not announced whether they will run again. Each would receive $89,450 if they do not re-offer, boosting the total to almost $2 million ahead of the election.

The amount of money set to be paid out to retiring MPs is just a first wave. The total is set to skyrocket after the election, when MPs who lose their races and are not eligible for pensions will also get golden handshakes.

It’s difficult to calculate exactly how much will be paid out in October, since it depends how many MPs who have served less than six years or MPs younger than 55 years old are defeated. But the average severance payment will likely be higher than for the MPs who definitely aren’t running. That’s because most MPs already set to receive severance are backbenchers, while those defeated in the coming election may include cabinet ministers and others with boosted pay because they have additional duties.

There are 24 cabinet ministers (out of 35 total members, counting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) who are rookie MPs elected in 2015 and will be eligible for $132,200 in severance pay if they are defeated in the fall.

After the 2015 contest, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimated a total of $11 million in severance payments had been paid out to retiring or defeated MPs.

Aaron Wudrick, executive director of the group, said severance payments for MPs were questionable because being a member of Parliament is less like holding a normal job and more like fulfilling a fixed-term contract.

Since MPs know the terms of the job going in and the idea of job insecurity is baked in, he said it might be reasonable to get rid of at least some of the severance.

“If you get another contract, that’s great,” Wudrick said. ”But you can’t claim you didn’t know there was a risk you weren’t going to get rehired.”

“There are ways to plan for post-MP life,” he added.

And if we’re looking to make the admittedly “taxing” job of being an MP more attractive to people, Wudrick said, we should be investigating some key non-monetary changes, like eliminating Friday sittings to ease cross-country commutes for some members.

As it stands, Wudrick said, MP severance payments are comparatively generous. The Employment Standards Act in Ontario, for example, guarantees one week’s worth of pay for every year served, though arrangements vary from province to province and company to company.

Employees of MPs get a guaranteed two weeks’ worth of severance for their first year of work, and one week for each subsequent year, to a maximum of 28 weeks.

If an MP serves four years and retires with a severance payment, he or she would be receive around eight weeks’ pay for every year worked.

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, an ethics watchdog, said MPs should put the whole package of compensation to an independent commission, and that group should determine the severance payment for MPs by comparing it to similar jobs outside politics.

He also suggested different MPs might get difference packages. A minister, who is more likely to be able to find lucrative work after politics, might receive less severance, not more, Conacher said.

Different levels of severance could be determined based on factors like seniority or the relative safety of an MP’s seat, he said, which, though difficult to calculate, would be better than a “blanket rule” that is currently already generous, he said.

Some MPs might genuinely need the money to tide them over until they find new work, he said, but “if you’re in a safe riding, you have a lot of job security.”

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The conflicting ideas of economy and ecology examined in Ellingsen’s work

Artist talk for photographic exhibition The Last Stand is part of this weekend’s Art & Earth Festival

UPDATE: Alcohol and speed not ruled out as factors in fatal crash north of Campbell River

Highway 19 reopened Sunday night after being closed in both directions

PHOTOS: Storm split weekend effort at the Brindy

After home stand, Campbell River to head on the road Saturday

Global Climate Strike comes to Campbell River

Rally and march to be held at Spirit Square on Sept. 20

NIC Artist Talk Series to kick off with abstract artist

Vancouver-based Fiona Ackerman to speak at Comox Valley campus on Sept. 26

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Largest driving factor is the province’s complex stumpage system that results in high fees, expert says

20 day search for missing Labradoodle in Princeton, B.C. ends with tears of joy

The search brought out bloodhounds, and groups hoping to find Mordy

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Two Nanaimo residents share $5-million Lotto 6/49 prize

Jesse Logan and Teresa Winters Day matched all six numbers in Aug. 21 Lotto 6/49 draw

Most Read