Ford government to freeze MPP salaries after balancing budget RS News


RS News

Ontario’s finance minister will introduce legislation to prevent MPPs from getting a big raise next year after the government announced a surprise budget surplus and a “temporary” elimination of the deficit.

The Ford government has revealed a budget surplus of 2.1 billion dollars for the 2021-2022 financial year, as the province has benefited from inflation spreading the cost of goods and services, delivering higher tax revenues for the government’s coffers.

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The unexpected surplus also means Ontario MPs will get a significant boost in pay for the first time in 14 years, when the former Liberal government froze MPP salaries at $116,550 amid an economic downturn.

But by balancing the budget, the Ford government unconditionally struck down part of Ontario’s laws that dictate how much MPs can earn.

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The Ministry of Finance told Global News Ontario politicians could soon receive $142,125 a year — or 75 percent of a federal MP’s annual salary.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvi said he plans to introduce legislation to “freeze” MPs’ salaries amid the pressures of high inflation and rising interest rates across the province.

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“While people are struggling due to rising costs, politicians should not get raises,” the government said in a news release.

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While the move may be politically popular, it comes at a time when the government is being urged to eliminate the freeze altogether.

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In an annual report, Ontario’s integrity commissioner called the current laws “problematic” and urged the legislature to overhaul compensation laws.

“During my meetings with MPPs to review their financial disclosures some MPPs mention their concern about the continuing static nature of their income,” Commissioner J. David Wake said in his report. “Continuing to tie the lifting of the freeze to achieve a balanced budget is problematic for all MPPs.”

While the finance minister limits the salary increases of all MPs, members of the Ford government still receive thousands of dollars in top-ups for additional responsibilities.

The salary for those in Premier Doug Ford’s 30-member cabinet is $165,000 a year, while 43 PC MPPs earn nearly $140,000 a year for serving as parliamentary assistants.

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In total, 73 of the 83-member Ontario PC caucus already receive between 19 and 42 per cent above base salary.

Other MPPs, such as the leader of the official opposition, committee chairs and the speaker of the legislature also receive a salary top-up.

The government is unlikely to get pushback from the NDP who acknowledged the six-figure salary is well above the average Ontario income.

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“I think that most people would agree that someone who makes $116,000 a year – that’s a good salary,” said Catherine Fife of the NDP.

The Ontario legislature returns on October 25.

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© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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