MPs’ pensions a tad too rich

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says we oldies are threatening Canada’s social programs and “services that Canadians cherish.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says we oldies are threatening Canada’s social programs and “services that Canadians cherish.”

Well, it isn’t the current oldies he’s worried about; it’s the baby-boomer bulge coming up, but whatever, he told a meeting of the global elite in Davos, Switzerland that the  growing elderly population could undermine Canada’s economic stability.

He plans to prevent this by fiddling with pensions. He’s  already fiddled with health funding. B.C. will be hardest hit by his new per-capita health plan because we have an older population. People from other provinces like to retire here.

Before he starts overhauling the public’s pension plans, Mr. Harper should have a boo at MPs’ pensions.

According to the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, MPs get $40,000 a year after six years in office. They can collect at age 55 (the rate goes up with longer service. Former Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe gets $150,000 a year). Ordinary workers contribute to their own pensions and trust the government to invest their money wisely. Apparently that doesn’t necessarily happen but it’s another story. What does happen is that for every dollar the MP contributes to his/her pension, the taxpayer contributes $23.

How on Earth did that come about?

Without taking anything away from our MPs, I’m sure they are all hardworking, wonderful people, but even so, that pension is a tad rich. So Mr. Harper, how about putting MPs’ personal pensions on the same level as those of ordinary Canadians, including the start time for collecting?

One more grump while I’m at it. When  Mr. Harper took over as prime minister, the national deficit was under control. He’s been in office six years, so he’s responsible for our current deficit.

I hope he can get us out of what he got us into.

He can’t take credit for regulating the banks either. That was done by his predecessors.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.