Credits: SunMedia/Greg Henkenhaf / CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH / Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO -- It’s a rare moment of unanimity at Queen’s Park.
Ontario’s three main political parties -- the Liberals, New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives -- may disagree on just about every major policy, but they all support severance for MPPs who retire, quit or are defeated.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday that the severance he’ll receive -- $313,461 -- is far less than he would have been entitled to under the former gold-plated MPP pension plan abolished in 1997.
Under that plan, McGuinty says he would have left with a $3.7 million pension.
“So I think that’s a healthy development and in the interest of Ontario taxpayers,” McGuinty said. “I’m sure that there are some people who believe that if politicians were to be paid $100 a year, that would be $100 too much. I understand that.”
McGuinty, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Energy Minister Chris Bentley -- who have all announced they will not run in the next election -- will depart with six-figure severance.
Former environment minister John Wilkinson said he received $165,851 in severance, not the $248,777 that was previously reported, and which is available to cabinet ministers with more than eight years service.
In contrast, former Tory finance minister Ernie Eves left with a $78,000 severance package which he quietly repaid before returning to the legislature as premier.
Eves’ severance was based on 20 years of public service, including stints in cabinet in the governments of both Frank Miller and Mike Harris.
Eves, who was a member of the MPP gold-plated pension plan, did score $700,000 to $800,000 when the plan wound down in 1996-97.
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns said the severance pay is “part of the package” for provincial politicians and is reasonable, considering politics is not secure employment.
Progressive Conservative House Leader Jim Wilson said he agrees with McGuinty that the severance package is appropriate, and a cheaper option than the previous pension plan which was replaced with a defined contribution RRSP plan.
“I would have had well over $2.5 million beginning when I was 42 years of age six years ago. The system we did bring in was a better deal for taxpayers and I don’t begrudge some severance for members,” Wilson said.
Gregory Thomas, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said he doesn’t believe most Ontarians support the idea of severance for politicians who quit their jobs.