Canada Kicks Ass
Wage freeze for MLAs and non-union civil servants


smorgdonkey @ Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:11 am ... l-servants

The provincial government introduced amendments for a three-year wage freeze for MLAs and non-unionized government workers and eliminated several financial perks Tuesday.

Finance Minister Diana Whalen said the changes come at a time when the government looks at austerity measures to improve the province’s finances. Including MLAs in the changes is a way of showing government understands everyone must do their part, she said.

Along with the wage freeze, Whalen also announced that the public service award would be frozen at current levels and not available to new non-unionized workers. Previously, it equated to a week’s worth of pay for every year of full-time work, up to a maximum of 26 weeks.

The MLA transitional allowance is also being cancelled.

Changes to the public service award will save $2.5 million a year. The pay freeze for employees applies to about 1,800 people, including those who work directly with cabinet ministers.

Changes to wages or the public service award for unionized employees can’t be made without negotiations, said Whalen.

“What we’ve done today is made a couple of changes here on the costs that we have control of and have the ability to change quickly just by making a decision.”

The last pay increase for non-unionized employees was April 1, 2014, when the group received a three per cent bump.

Adding a bit of intrigue to Tuesday’s announcement is the removal of the MLA transitional allowance, which has a maximum payout of $89,000 when a fully pensionable member leaves office after 12 years. That news comes less than a week after two NDP MLAs resigned.

By resigning last week, Frank Corbett gets the full payout, on top of his pension. Gordie Gosse, who also resigned last week, will get a transitional allowance just shy of the maximum.

Gosse was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and said last week he needs to focus on his health. No official reason has been given for Corbett’s departure. The former Cape Breton Centre MLA wasn’t in the House on Thursday when the announcement was made.

Whether or not MLAs were tipped off about the changes depends on whom one asks.

Acting NDP leader Maureen MacDonald said her caucus was made aware by its House leader “in the last week or so” that changes were coming. Until last Thursday, Corbett was the NDP House leader.

“We had some indication that the government were looking at this.”

But Tory House leader Chris d’Entremont said the first he and his caucus was made aware of the changes was Thursday, and he was not part of any advance talks.

“There’s been rumblings, but there’s been no discussion about this.”

Anyone hoping government House leader Michel Samson would settle the dispute was left disappointed.

“We have a number of discussions amongst the House leaders as to the functions of the House. I do not intend to share the exact nature of those discussions.”

Despite being made aware of the difference between MacDonald’s and d’Entremont’s accounts, Samson offered no further information, even though it relates to almost $180,000 in public money.

“Everything that we do in this province, one could argue, applies to public money.”