Alberta Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith announced that all of her 17 Members of the Legislative Assembly will donate eight percent of their salaries to charity to make a point that they will only accept a $145,000 salary.
The Opposition Leader said Monday the $145,000 annual earnings was how much MLAs were making prior to Alberta Premier Alison Redford and her conservatives using their majority on a committee to hike their pay by eight percent to $156,000.
Smith has encouraged other members of the provincial government to join her cause. The Wildrose Party head said that the money collected will go into a registered charitable foundation called the Wildrose Caucus Foundation, under the guidance of The Calgary Foundation, to assist education, health and justice groups. More than $60,000 has already been received.
“Our caucus was united in our opposition to the MLA pay hike the PCs brought in last year and we are united in deciding to do something about it,” said Smith in a press release. “I am proud of every single Wildrose MLA for stepping up and doing the right thing and I look forward to being able to help out hard-working charities that do invaluable work in our communities. We believe this money was never rightfully ours. We are simply giving it back to the front lines. We hope others decide to join us.”
Smith, who was polled to win at least a minority government in the last election, added that no one in either her party or in the government deserves that pay raise because it wasn’t campaigned on last year.
Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Bruce McAllister criticized Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk for the pay hike late last year and explained that all of the elected representatives were viewed by their constituents that they would be earning a certain annual salary.
“When I got elected, I knew I would be making $145,000 a year. Now, I am making $156,000 a year. That is a pay hike no matter how you try and spin it,” McAllister added in the news release. “It’s a pay hike I and my colleagues didn’t campaign on and didn’t ask for and that’s why we are giving it back. It’s just the right thing to do.”
The Progressive Conservatives claim that they actually cut overall pay because MLAs earn less than they did a year ago, according to the Globe and Mail. However, Smith argues that all MLAs earn more now than they did in May. Furthermore, the premier recently announced a pay freeze before this month’s budget.
“There’s no other way to describe it. If you get paid more in December than you were getting paid in May, June, July, August, September, October and November, you’ve received a pay increase. We got a pay increase,” explained Smith. “We think an actual freeze is not taking this money. You cannot expect your public sector workers to sacrifice if you’ve got politicians who are not prepared to do the same. The fact of the matter is freezing pay after you’ve given yourself a pay increase, is not a pay freeze.”
Some of the groups involved with The Calgary Foundation include: EvenStart for Childern Society of Calgary, Prospect Human Services, Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, Calgary Science Network and Learning Partnership Canada.