MLAs should forgo a pay increase for next year

Saying no to a pay hike

The best part of writing this column each week, is the feedback I receive from those who take the time to share it with me.

I love reading each email I receive, and hearing the phone messages and having conversations with others who call.

Two weeks ago, in response to one of the columns I wrote, I was challenged about the pay MLAs receive. I was asked how high the raises were for MLAs, and if I would be willing to forgo a raise.

I believe the role of an MLA, which is 24/7 to do properly, should be remunerated appropriately.

Having said that, while British Columbians are dealing with skyrocketing inflation, it seems like the wrong time to be receiving a raise.

The government has already given themselves one pay raise this year, that was retroactive to last year. It was a $10,000 to $25,000 hike for ministers. The BC Liberals had put into law that the budget needed to be balanced in order to achieve such a bonus.

This last year, the NDP removed that clause—so it no longer requires a balanced budget—and made it retroactive to the previous year, giving each minister a cool $20,000 to $50,000.

In contrast, during the last recession, the BC Liberals froze MLA pay for three years. Before that , the BC Liberals tied compensation to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The idea was that would be consistent with other public service employees and would limit government intervention, except in the case of extreme circumstances. I would suggest the current high inflation rate British Columbians are experiencing qualifies as an extreme circumstance.

British Columbians are waiting for relief and beyond a couple of token announcements, this government has been absent from the conversation.

Our first week back in the Legislature, (BC Liberal) MLA Todd Stone delivered a private members bill that would eliminate the raise MLAs will receive next year. This raise could be somewhere between 7% and 10% for for all MLAs (based on the CPI).

The BC Liberals have asked the government to debate this bill and freeze our wages while inflation is brought back to normal levels. But sadly, with a majority government, the NDP is the only one that can make that happen. It’s MLAs will decide if we get raises or not.

I have heard from many how difficult inflation has been, how so many are choosing between rent and food, medicine, gas or and extracurricular activities for the kids.

Being an MLA means hearing about these difficulties and taking action. In this case, taking action would mean suspending the legislated raises for MLAs next year.

My question to you this week is:

Do you think that the government should do more to help British Columbians suffering through inflation?

You can email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620 to let me know your thoughts.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for the Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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