Two days before the release of the provincial budget, Nova Scotia Finance Minister Diana Whalen has announced a three-year wage freeze for MLAs and some civil servants.
Around 1,800 non-unionized civil servants will be affected by the freeze.
“We haven’t had an increase since 2013,” said Progressive Conservative House Leader Chris D’Entremont. “We’ve held it off for the last three years. Holding off for another three years is not a surprise. I’m surprised it’s not a bit of a rollback.”
The changes will also eliminate transitional payments to fully pension-eligible MLAs, the finance minister said. The maximum allowance, which applies to MLAs who have served more than 12 years, is around $89,000.
Two NDP MLAs who stepped down last week will keep their payments.
Frank Corbett is eligible for the maximum allowance. He tells CTV News there were many factors that led to him stepping down, including his age. He says the transitional pay played a small part in his decision.
Gordie Gosse falls short of the maximum payout by a matter of months. Diagnosed with cancer last year, Gosse told the legislature last week that it was time to focus on his health.
“I can’t speak for the MLAs. We had some indication that the government was thinking about going in this direction, though,” said NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald.
Another change announced today involves freezing the public service awards that go to employees who are retiring or resigning and immediately accepting a pension.
“On the public service side, for the public service awards, it will have a savings of $2.5 million each year going forward,” Whalen said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the impact of these changes will be small in terms of dollars saved, but it sends a bigger message.
“It’s small, but again, positive that we’re seeing the government address some of these entitlements,” said Kevin Lacey. “Heading into a budget, we’re asking people to feel the pain. That pain will now be spread to the government as well.”
The budget will be released on Thursday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jaqueline Foster