More than 160 members of parliament have pledged to donate their annual pay raise to charity amid questions surrounding why the legislated salary boost wasn’t cancelled due to COVID-19.
Elected MPs, senators and the governor general received their annual pay raises on April 1, as part of legislation adopted 15 years ago which mandates salary and allowance increases each calendar year, also known as Bill C-30.
Under that law, MPs are entitled to a 2.1 per cent hike, which will increase their base salaries by just over $3,750 to $182,656. Meanwhile, senators are paid roughly $25,000 less than MPs.
But the novel coronavirus forced the federal government to suspend sittings in parliament until further notice, which left no chance for a moratorium to be placed on this year’s pay hike.
A day before the pay raise took effect, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), a vocal citizens’ advocacy group, called on elected officials to donate their pay bumps – a move both the prime minister and opposition leader have agreed to.
Since then, 163 MPs have taken that initiative, including 28 representing B.C. ridings.
|List of MPs in B.C. who have agreed to donate their pay bump to a charity. (Canadian Tax Federation)|
“Hopefully the other 175 follow that example,” the federation said in an email to its supporters on Thursday (April 23).
Now, the CTF is calling on more elected officials in Canada to cut their salaries, as politicians in New Zealand, India, Japan and South Africa have done.
“Since the COVID-19 crisis started, over five million of our fellow citizen have lost their jobs,” the federation said. “Tens of thousands of business owners have been forced to close their doors. And seniors have seen their savings take a hit.”
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced recently that she and ministers would take a 20 per cent pay cut for six months to show “solidarity” with citizens impacted by the pandemic.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this month that he and his cabinet would take a 33 per cent slash to salaries, with those funds going into the country’s COVID-19 relief fund.
Earlier this week, federal party leaders agreed to mix in-person and virtual House sittings in the coming weeks, effective until at least May 25.
MPs will hold one in-person sitting a week on Wednesdays with limited staff and parliamentary services. Once secured technology is in place, elected officials will have 90-minute virtual sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.