Three defeated cabinet ministers missed by mere days the deadline to qualify for a parliamentary pension that averages more than $71,000 a year. The former MPs required a minimum of six years’ service to qualify.
"It is calculated from the date of the election," said Heather Bradley, spokesperson for the Commons. MPs first elected October 19, 2015, fell 28 days short of eligibility.
Defeated members of the 2015 Parliament included Seniors Minister Deb Schulte, Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef, reported Blacklocks. All three had received $274,500-a year cabinet pay.
Full benefits under the pension plan are calculated on MPs’ best-paid years multiplied by seniority. Payouts averaged $71,271 last year.
Parliament in 2000 mandated that all MPs enroll in the plan after the Reform Party campaigned against the "gold-plated" benefit in 1993. Individual Reformers later opted back into the plan in 1998. "The Reform Party was the only party to talk about the MP pension plan," then-MP Keith Martin told the Commons at the time.
"The Prime Minister forced all MPs in the House back into the pension plan whether they liked it or not," said Martin. "Those are the facts."
An earlier 1994 report by consultants with Ernst & Young estimated the typical MP logged a fifty-four-hour work week.
Parliament first introduced the Members Of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act in 1952. MPs at the time were paid the equivalent of $35,000 a year. Former politicians had to be age 70 to claim benefits, a maximum of $29,000 a year.
The Commons banking committee passed the Act with a lone dissenting vote, then-Conservative MP Davie Fulton. "Ultimate power rests with the people," said Fulton.
Parliament in 2005 also passed Bill C-30, An Act To Amend The Parliament Of Canada Act mandating automatic pay increases for MPs and senators every April 1 based on a labour department index of wage settlements in the unionized private sector. This year’s raise was worth two percent.
Cabinet has frozen legislators’ pay only once, following the 2008 financial panic. Parliament passed an Expenditure Restraint Act that waived all pay increases from 2010 to 2013.