New MLA salaries approved by legislature

A legislative committee has approved new pay rates for Alberta MLAs.

Under the package approved on Thursday, MLAs will take home $134,000 each year; cabinet ministers will make $201,000; and the premier's salary is set at $217,750 each year. The amounts are retroactive to April 23, the date of the last provincial election.

The rates are based mostly on recommendations on MLA compensation from retired Supreme Court Justice John Major.

However, the premier's salary is much lower than what Major proposed. His recommendation, which would have seen the amount increase to $335,000 over two years, was rejected by Premier Alison Redford as soon as his report was released last month.

Speaker Gene Zwozdesky believes Albertans should be happy with the pay package.

"It's all out in the open, it's very clear, it's very straightforward and very understandable," he said.

But not all of Major's recommendations have been adopted. The defined benefit plan proposed in his report is still under review and that concerns critics like Scott Hennig from the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation.

"They need to reject this pension plan and we're hoping that they don't wait until the dead of summer to try to sneak this through," he said.

MLA pay became an issue in the last provincial election when the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation revealed in early March that 21 MLAs received $1,000 every month for sitting on a legislature committee that had hadn't met in over three years.