The Canadian Taxpayer Federation released a statement on Tuesday sharply criticizing federal Members of Parliament for "failing to stop their April 1 pay raise during the COVID-19 downturn."
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, then-Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were among the list of MPs who donated their pay raises to charities.
Legislation passed to depoliticize parliamentary pay in 2005 makes it so that salaries paid to MPs and senators increase automatically on April 1 of each year.
The increase is based on the average increase negotiated by "major bargaining units in the private sector." The basic MP salary is $182,600. Ministers receive $269,800, and the prime minister receives $365,200 annually, according to the Taxpayer Federation.
"Our MPs should know that a pandemic and severe economic downturn is the worst possible time to be padding their pockets with a pay hike," said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director. "Millions of Canadians have been struggling with COVID-19 for more than a year now, so it’s long past time for our MPs to get off their butts and put an end to their automatic pay increases."
The last wage freeze for Parliament took place in 2010 and 2013 in response to the 2008 financial crisis in what was called the Expenditure Restraint Act.
According to Statistics Canada, Canada lost over 700,000 private-sector jobs over the last year.
"This shouldn’t be rocket science: our MPs should be able to figure out a way to stop the automatic pay hikes during a severe economic downturn," said Terrazzano. "This second MP pay raise during COVID-19 is a slap in the face to the many taxpayers who have taken a pay cut, lost their job or their business."