Money changes everything. To quote from a rock song with its eye on a different profession, the phrase in this case is one to ponder in a look at our provincial politicians' salaries.
Not that there's any chance of a significant cutback in pay, but the Nova Scotia Liberals are to their credit establishing an independent panel to review the salaries and pensions of MLAs. The public will be skeptical. Often these things are no more than lip service to an issue that really irks people. But more so than salaries, the panel has to come up with changes to pension provisions for our provincial politicians.
The salary is not wildly out of scope. It's often been noted that without reasonable pay, few with the skills or credentials to follow issues would bother offering. When they are successful in getting elected, they in theory at least are on the job 24/7 throughout the year representing their constituencies.
On remuneration, one of the points Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie has made is a need to vastly reform the pension plans enjoyed by politicians. They simply aren't fair and are unaffordable for taxpayers. Baillie would like to see payouts capped, and contributions of legislature members and the government matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Changes brought in by the previous NDP government trimmed the benefit somewhat.
But we continue to hear about average working people who won't have enough when they retire. Many of those who have invested in retirement savings have seen their nest egg eroded by turbulent markets – in some cases just as they were ready for that golden handshake.
In the public sector, many governments are nervously looking for ways to bring back in line what proved to be far too generous pension packages – and simply not sustainable in the long run in a shrinking public service workforce.
Presumably what this panel comes up with in regard to politicians' pensions will see the light of day. In the meantime, the public should make their views known, that while they're forced to bite the bullet they can't afford to artificially prop up the plans of MLAs.