A 25 per cent pay increase for Ontario MPPs introduced in the legislature this week will help to draw the "best and the brightest" to run in the next provincial election, says Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh. "I think it will hold some good talent in Ontario and allow us to attract the calibre of individual to the next election that the people of Ontario want," said Chudleigh. If the proposed bill passes, it would see MPPs' base salaries soar from $88,771 to $110,775. The bill passed first reading 78-4 with only New Democrats dissenting. Waterloo-Wellington MPP Ted Arnott, who will be running as the Conservative candidate in the Wellington-Halton Hills riding in the next election, also supports the hike. "Since the province has important responsibilities like health, education and the environment, the Ontario Legislature needs the best and the brightest," said Arnott. Chudleigh said since 2003, three Ontario MPPs have gone to the federal government because MPs get twice the pay MPPs do. He said he has also seen one MP (Cam Jackson) go into municipal politics (recently elected Burlington's mayor). That job also pays double what MPPs make, said Chudleigh. Arnott said there is a "huge disparity" between what Ontario MPPs vs. federal MPs are paid. "I agree that if the disparity between the pay of MPs and MPPs becomes too great, the Ontario legislature will become a second-rate parliamentary institution and the people of Ontario will not have the quality of government leadership they deserve," said Arnott.
Preferring to call it a "pay adjustment" than a pay hike Chudleigh,who supported the bill, said it will be
pegged to the federal level and would still result in MPPs being paid 25 per cent less than their federal counterparts, despite the fact they serve the same number of people in the same size ridings. "It's going to tie it to a formula. I think that's fair for the future and I think it will keep the Ontario legislature with the federal House of Commons and help us attract the best and brightest for the future. "There's no good time to do it," added Chudleigh.
Chudleigh said in 1995 MPs took a 10 per cent pay cut that was never re-instituted. A cost of living adjustment MPs received in
2001 was "almost unnoticeable" on their pay cheques, said Chudleigh. "I think the pay has deteriorated since I was elected (originally) in 1995," said Chudleigh. On Wednesday, Chudleigh said he had received a couple of e-mails from constituents in opposition to the bill. He said he didn't think those who know what an MPP does are "too upset about this." Arnott said he had received five Emails from constituents. "The ones I've seen are not supportive," said Arnott.
A local man likens Ontario MPPs to "criminals" for voting in favour of a 25 per cent hike on their pay cheques. "Al Capone was Santa Claus compared to these people," said Noah Rowsell of Acton. "If the working people wanted a 5 per cent increase the government would say they are asking too much." Rowsell was one of five people polled Wednesday on the bill that calls for a $22,000 hike in MPPs salaries-- increasing them from $88,771 to $110,775. The bill passed first reading and the Legislature, which had planned to rise for winter break yesterday (Thursday), will be extended into next week to pass the pay raise. Only one local resident polled supported the increase. Gwyn Ramsay said, compared to MPs, she doesn't think MPPs are paid enough. "I think it's fair. Usually for a position like that you get a reasonable salary," Ramsay said. Margaret Walker of Georgetown had the opposite opinion. "I don't like it all. They're making enough money as it is now," said Walker. "They just want more and more. If they have got that much extra money they should put it somewhere useful, like programs, libraries, shelters, food banks-- back into the community. They haven't done anything to warrant that type of raise." "I don't think for the amount of work they're expected to do it's really called for, especially when lots of other people are getting cut back," said Tos Voel of Acton. "I wouldn't mind getting a 10 per cent raise," said Acton resident Reta Rowsell. "I think it's rather audacious of them to just go ahead and give themselves more of a raise percentage-wise then I got when I was working," said Arnold Joyner, of Berkeley, Ontario.