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Defeated MLA received $870K through allowance


A defeated Central Alberta MLA received $870,000 through a governmental transition allowance program that has now been scrapped.

Some 33 departing MLAs received a total of $12.5 million following the 2012 provincial election, with ex-Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Ty Lund’s share the third highest of all at $870,000. The allowances are based on the equivalent of three months of salary per year of service, based on a member’s three highest-paid years in office.

A six-term MLA who held a variety of cabinet positions between 1994 and 2006, Lund was defeated in the 2012 election as the Wildrose Party swept Central Alberta ridings outside of Red Deer. His post-election payout trailed only former Speaker Ken Kowalski’s ($1.18 million) and ex-Premier Ed Stelmach’s ($995,000).

Other former Progressive Conservative MLAs who received the allowance were ex-cabinet minister Luke Ouellette (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake), who earned $517,318, Ray Prins, who served two terms representing Lacombe-Ponoka and earned $281,362, and Drumheller-Stettler’s Jack Hayden who hauled in $226,362. Richard Marz, who represented Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills before resigning in early 2012, received $551,745 last year.

The transition allowance program was scrapped following the 2012 election as part of a major reform of MLA compensation by the government. However, sitting MLAs elected before 2012 will still receive the payouts based on what they had accumulated under the program.

The finance report detailing the transition payments also breaks down compensation for all sitting MLAs for the year ending March 31, 2013. The numbers show that only Premier Alison Redford cost taxpayers more during those 12 months than Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas.

Dallas, Minister of International and Intergovernmental Relations, earned $231,285 in salary and benefits for the year, the same total earned by two other cabinet ministers. Redford earned $252,911.

Dallas’ expenses too were second only to those of Redford. He charged $131,804 for the time period, including $100,222 for travel.

An MLA since 2008, Dallas has made numerous trips abroad as part of the cabinet role he has held since 2011. A trip to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait in Nov. 2012, for example, cost $42,057.73 for Dallas and his chief of staff.

Dallas earned $175,557 in salary and benefits in the 2011-12 fiscal year, a year in which he was appointed to the provincial cabinet in October.

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski earned $180,015 in 2012-13 and racked up $60,024 in expenses. Both of those totals were higher than her 2011-12 numbers, the former thanks to greater CPP, WCB, and health benefits.

Most MLAs who served before the election and remain in their posts saw a rise in remuneration and benefits in 2012-13, though for the fiscal year the government eliminated tax-free allowances for members, worth $12,570 in past years, and pay relating to committee work.

According to briefing notes accompanying the report, average compensation for members — excluding employer-paid benefits — declined in 2012-13. Average government member compensation fell from $189,212 to $156,311 while average opposition member pay fell also fell to $156,311 from $170,878.

MLAs voted late in 2013 to freeze their pay for the next three years, but Alberta politicians remain among the best-paid provincial representatives in Canada.

Among other Central Alberta MLAs, Kerry Towle (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake) had the highest salary and benefits earnings at $163,767. Joe Anglin, who replaced Lund, took in $159,939 and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Bruce Rowe earned $148,114. Rod Fox of Lacombe-Ponoka and Rick Strankman (Drumheller-Stettler) earned the same $154,459 total.

Anglin’s expenses were highest at $64,913, while Towle’s amounted to $63,983. Rowe claimed $55,188 in expenses, while Fox claimed $33,765 and Strankman’s amount was $20,928.

mfish@reddeeradvocate.com

 

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