SKEENA – BULKLEY Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen is eligible to collect an annual pension of nearly $54,000 if he leaves office in 2015, estimates the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
And that amount will climb to nearly $73,000 a year if Cullen is re-elected in the 2015 federal election and leaves after the four-year term in 2019.
But Cullen, now 39 and who earns $157,000 a year, would not be able to collect the full amount until he turns 55.
First elected in 2004, Cullen is now past the minimum six years a person must be a Member of Parliament in order to qualify for a pension.
The pension entitlement of Cullen and the other Members of Parliament was the subject last week of a critical report by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
It said Canadian taxpayers spend millions of dollars a year subsidizing parliamentary pensions with no expectation of enjoying the same kind of financial benefit in their own retirement.
The federation says that taxpayers contribute $248,668 per year to each MP’s pension, while MPs contribute as little as $10,990 per year.
“Teachers, bus drivers, farmers, cops, small business owners, would all love to get a pension at age 55 after only six years of service,” said CTF official Gregory Thomas. “We’re putting more into MP’s pension plans than we are paying them each year, and they only contribute $10,990 of that to this gold-plated pension scheme. It’s a national disgrace.”
The CTF itself does not oppose the idea of MPs having pensions but does say they should be of the same kind as taxpayers.
It suggests that taxpayer contributions be capped at $1 for every $1 a MP contributes and that MPs join a new program called a Pooled Registered Pension Plan in which pension returns are based on investment performance and by the amount of money that is contributed.
Parliamentary and other federal public sector pension plans are coming under increasing scrutiny because of the federal government’s drive to cut spending and balance its budget.