Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board, talks to media on Parliament Hill.
Credits: ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - Treasury Board President Tony Clement's MP pension reform victory lap garnered only lukewarm applause from key watchdogs Thursday.
"This is the first time in the history of this country that MPs will pay half the cost of their pensions," Clement said not long after the legislation bringing in the changes received royal assent.
"We are doing our bit."
The C.D. Howe Institute - an economic think-tank - and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) - a taxpayers' advocacy group - heaped praise on parliamentarians for allowing the nest-egg makeover.
But they argue MP pension plan reforms and public sector pensions changes also coming down the pipe still contain serious flaws.
In a report published Thursday, the Institute said the changes will bring short-term benefits to taxpayers but long-term problems remain - and taxpayers are still on the hook for public plans the think-tank said are either underfunded or unfunded and sponsored solely by the federal government.
"The cost they're reporting is still too low," report co-author Alexandre Laurin said. "It doesn't reflect the market value of their pension, and it creates problems and exposures to taxpayers and exposures that aren't budgeted. You can't see it - that's the problem."
Clement said he disagreed with the numbers in the report.
"We're quite confident this is a 50-50 arrangement," he said.
Still, CTF federal director Gregory Thomas said he's "on the same page" with the Institute on this.
"The private sector isn't guaranteeing incomes for life indexed to inflation," he said, referring to MP pensions, which aren't invested and come out of the federal coffers' general revenues.
"Let's agree on fair pay for politicians and let politicians set aside for their retirement using the same tools the rest of us get."
Earlier this month, MPs unanimously passed a bill that would see each of them pay just under $39,000 per year by 2017 and taxpayers about $40,000. MPs currently contribute $11,000.
The pension changes would also raise the age of eligibility for a full pension from 55 to 65.