Legislation introduced Tuesday proposes pay hikes for Premier Sandy Silver – and increases across the board for MLAs’ expense accounts.
The amendments to the Legislative Assembly Act also propose salary increases for the leader of the third party, the Speaker of the House and the Deputy Speaker.
There are no hikes for cabinet ministers nor MLAs.
All elected members, however, will see their annual expense accounts rise by 30 per cent – from $14,984 to $19,477.
Increases to expense accounts are meant to offset the new federal income tax rules that will begin taxing the expense accounts Jan. 1 for the first time, Helen Fitzsimmons, the director of finance for the legislative assembly, explained this morning.
She said there will be no net increase in the expense accounts, which are intended to cover expenses of elected representatives related to work in their ridings, such as meeting with voters.
There is also no increase in remuneration for MLAs who are all paid $77,972 annually, and whose pay is already indexed to increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index.
On top of the $77,972 and the $19,477 expense accounts MLAs receive, the premier and others are paid an additional salary for fulfilling extra duties.
The additional annual salary for the premier will rise by five per cent from $59,944 to $62,890, bringing his annual pay to $140,862, not including the expense account.
The new rate brings Silver’s pay up to about 25 per cent below the national average for other provincial and territorial leaders.
Hikes for the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and leader of the third party will also bring their annual pay up to 25 per cent below the national average for those positions.
The additional annual salary for the Speaker will rise from $29,973 to $38,974; from $11,989 to $15,565 for the Deputy Speaker; and from $17,983 to $20,843 for the leader of the third party.
Fitzsimmons explained there is no change to the additional salaries for cabinet ministers nor the leader of the official Opposition.
That’s because those salaries are already a few dollars higher than 25 per cent below the national average.
Ministers and the leader of the official Opposition are paid an additional $41,961 annually, on top of the MLA pay of $77,972, bringing their total pay package to $119,933, not including the $19,477 expense account.
Fitzsimmons pointed out the increases were recommended by an independent, non-partisan contractor.
The contractor undertook a review of salaries and benefits for MLAs in 2017 at the direction of the all-party Members’ Services Board, which oversees such matters.
The contractor’s findings and recommendations were provided to the board.
There’s also a new formula for calculating the severance allowance for former MLAs, explains a press release issued by Fitzsimmons.
“The new formula links severance payments to completed years of service rather than to fixed service thresholds. This results in significantly lower severance costs going forward and reflects the approach of most other jurisdictions.”
The Yukon Party issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the Liberal government for bringing forward pay increases at a time when it’s also looking to save money in its annual budget.
Opposition Finance critic Brad Cathers said “it’s inappropriate for the premier to give himself a raise. The official Opposition will not be supporting any pay increases for elected officials.”
Cathers was unavailable to the Star this morning for further comment.
His office said he objected to the pay increases when they were recommended to the Members’ Services Board.