N.S. premier under fire for MLA's transition allowances
Published Wednesday, August 23, 2017 7:34PM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, August 24, 2017 10:52AM ADT
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is being called out by his political opponents for comments he made on CTV News Tuesday night.
When it comes to balancing the budget, Premier McNeil told CTV’s Steve Murphy that elected officials are doing their part, along with union members.
“The transition allowance that was there for elected members, we didn't freeze it, let me be clear, we removed it,” McNeil said.
While it's true that outgoing MLAs who are immediately eligible for a pension do not get a transition allowance, those who are not yet pension-eligible, including former cabinet minister Michel Samson, who lost his seat in May, do get a payout.
In Samson's case, it was a full year's salary of more than $89,000.
“He's got to be called out on that,” Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie said. “He is the premier who's asked a lot of people to cut back, whether it be in health care or education.”
The government did freeze MLA salaries in 2015, and that's not likely to change.
“If I'm an elected member in Nova Scotia, I wouldn't expect to be seeing a pay increase,” McNeil told CTV News Tuesday.
But Baillie says that's not the same as freezing wages for the public sector through legislation.
“The legal fees are going to pile up for years to come now on Bill 148, the teachers, we're going to be on the hook for millions of dollars,” he said.
Enacting Bill 148 sets a wage pattern for public sector employees and freezes long service awards, effectively ending the retirement benefit for new employees.
The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour says it believes that part of the law is unconstitutional. Labour leaders are still determining what comes next.
“Come up with a bit of a strategic plan about how we move forward and that may be more than just going to court,” said Danny Cavanagh, president of the labour federation.
With more than 300 contracts still to be settled, the NSGEU is promising it will be a difficult road ahead.
“We will bargain and we will make every table the most difficult this government has ever dealt with,” NSGEU president Jason MacLean said.
The Court of Appeal will consider the constitutionality of Bill 148, and any legal challenge will take years.
The public sector wage freeze has already been built into back-to-back balanced budgets.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.