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Ka ching! MLAs approve pay hike

The most poorly paid MLAs in Canada are getting a pay hike.Yukon MLAs passed legislation Tuesday that approved significant increases to their…

The most poorly paid MLAs in Canada are getting a pay hike.

Yukon MLAs passed legislation Tuesday that approved significant increases to their salaries.

All MLAs will be paid $65,000 annually, plus more for holding cabinet and leadership positions.

Cabinet ministers receive another $35,000 annually. The premier gets $50,000 more.

The leader of the official opposition gets $35,000 on top of the base MLA salary, while the third party leader gets an additional $15,000.

Salaries will be adjusted every year to match inflation.

Expenses accounts have increased to a maximum of $12,500.

The pay increase is retroactive to June 1, 2007, meaning January cheques will include pay MLAs should have received starting that month.

Community Services minister Glenn Hart rose in the House Tuesday afternoon to introduce Bill 45, Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly Act No. 2, for a third reading.

A voice vote was taken and the legislation passed.

All three NDP MLAs voted for the pay increase, but didn’t take the decision lightly, said leader Todd Hardy.

“It’s an extremely difficult position to be in to vote on your own pay increase,” he said.

“With all the money in government hands, we should be building prosperity for everybody. There should be more money for social assistance, shelters and alcohol and drug addiction.”

Referring to his legislative renewal bill that failed to move forward earlier this week, Hardy said improvements to political accountability and working relationships need improvement.

“The legislature is not working as good as it should be,” he said. “If we expect to receive more pay, we need to work in a place that demands more of us.”

Bill 108 called for wide-ranging public consultation on the legislative system to help improve access, accountability and relevancy of the house to Yukoners.

MLAs were paid $38,000 annually, the lowest in Canada.

Salaries for ministers and the premier were actually lower in 2007 than in 1979.

And, along with the leader of the opposition and third-party leader, they are less the half the national average.

The raise puts Yukon politicians fourth last in Canada, in front of Alberta, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Wage hikes would cost about $520,000 annually on top of the current cost of $1,040,000, if the recommendations are adopted.

A report written by former clerk of the assembly Patrick Michael recommended the pay hike. That report was released last month.

The Member Services board, a branch of the legislative assembly, commissioned the report in May. (JW)