Editorial Board 2000-2001
No praise for an MPP raise
No praise for an MPP raise
The province of Ontario's Members of Provincial Parliament want a raise.
Be warned, before you read on, it would be advisable to put both hands under your jaw, lest you sustain injury from its impact with the floor upon fathoming the implications of a pay increase.
Specifically, Queen's Park is asking for a 33 per cent raise that would see the average MPP's salary skyrocket from $78,000 a year to $104,000 plus benefits. Ontario Premier Mike Harris' salary would end up at over $180,000 more money than Prime Minister Jean Chretien makes in a year.
The problem the province faces is justification for a pay hike in the wake of issues that have left many people in Ontario wondering what they have done to deserve one.
It seems as though recent times have seen one crisis after another. Cutbacks to healthcare, outcries over the education system at all levels and the Walkerton tragedy have all been squarely placed on the lap of the provincial government. And if programs like healthcare and education have taken cuts, the government should naturally be tightening its belt as well.
Granted, anti-government sentiment will always exist, instances of government, so much so that levels of negative public sentiment regarding the action or inaction of government is arguably higher than usual.
Despite concerns that a raise should be the last thing on government's agenda, it must be the case Queen's Park has an invariable ace in the hole to rationalize any increase in pay. It will likely take credit for a booming economy and use the creation of jobs and elimination of a deficit as reasons an MPP raise would be justified, even though the credit for a surge in the economy should go to the business cycle, not government.
Moreover, a cutback to MPP's pensions and salaries in 1996 is further reason Queen's Park is citing in its call for a pay hike. The 33 per cent raise would put MPP's breadwinnings closer in line with those of their federal counterparts.
But theoretically, an increase in pay is based solely on merit. What should it matter how much federal MP's are getting paid, so long as Ontario's own backyard is left unkempt? A job in politics is one that may not be the most appealing to the general public. It stands to reason that public officials must be adequately compensated for their work, but a one-third increase in pay is virtually unheard of in most any line of work. Read at face-value, it can easily be interpreted as an abuse of power and a gross display of arrogance on the part of the Queen's Park.
Do good things and you're doing your job. Do great things consistently and you might deserve a raise. This is how it goes at most any place of employment. The rule should apply when it comes to provincial political jobs as well.