Tuesday, March 22, 2016

PROVINCIAL LIBERALS WALKING THE TALK ON DEMOCRATIC REFORM


                                                                           
"I think it's time to fix this now, you know. 
MHA pensions, right now as we know, it's 
a rich pension plan when you compare it to
 what's out there in the pension market,"  

Dwight Ball, June 15, 2014

                                                                           

The House of Assembly will appoint a new Members’ Compensation Review Committee today but the appointments will not be effective until July 7, 2016.  

All three parties have agreed to the appointment of Sandra Burke, Kathy LeGrow and Jeffrey Pardy. They must report back to the Speaker of The House of Assembly no later than 120 days days after the appointment which is November  04, 2016.

They are to:

Inquire into and prepare a report respecting the salaries, allowances, severance payments and pensions to be paid to Members of the House of Assembly and in particular the Committee shall
  1.      recommend the annual salary for Members of the House of Assembly;
 2.      review and make recommendations regarding the additional salary provisions for positions identified in subsection 12(1) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act; 3.      recommend a formula or means for making annual salary adjustments for salary amounts referenced in clauses 2 and 3 above.;
 4.      review and make recommendations regarding the current severance pay policy for Members of the House of Assembly;
 5.      review the current provisions for Members’ pensions and provide recommendations for adjustments; and
 6.      review and make recommendations regarding the Intra-Constituency Allowance for each District established in the Schedule to Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules. This review should take into account the provision of services by Members as a result of the increase in the size of some districts, as a result of Electoral Boundary reform in 2015;

This could be a very interesting report as the government promised reform of the MHA Pension plan and other benefits.  Premier Dwight Ball is on record with a promise to scale back the pensions given to MHAs.  He said it is clear that the current scheme is too generous. 

I expect the new scheme will look much like Ontario's RRSP contribution plan for MPPs.

The Liberal's also promised to take partisan politics out of government appointments ensuring that senior positions at Crown corporations, public commissions, and other public agencies be filled based on merit. Ball said it’s simply a matter of making sure the most qualified person gets the job.

Last week, Premier Ball introduced legislation to allow the creation of a five-person, non-partisan Independent Appointments Commission whose job it will be to recommend individuals for appointment to chief executive officers or equivalent positions within approximately 30 tier one agencies, boards and commissions, as well as members of the associated boards.

Additionally, in future the Public Service Commission will oversee a new merit-based process will also apply to appointments for all remaining 128 agencies, boards and commissions. 

Other commitments related to democratic reform include establishing an All-Party Committee on democratic reform, establishing Legislative Review Committees, a review of the Standing Orders of the House to reform any outdated standing orders,  improving the functioning of the legislature, better use of existing committees and seek opportunities for further nonpartisan cooperation.

The last objective took a hit a few weeks ago when former NDP Caucus member turned Liberal Education Minister, Dale Kirby, got caught up in the old way of doing things by condescendingly taunting his former seat-mates.

Since being scolded for his jab and uncooperative approach the member has reigned himself in and admitted on public radio that he regretted getting got caught up in the cut and thrust of debate.

These are all certainly positive signals that the new government is moving forward with their election commitments despite having their hands tied behind their backs in the form of a looming $2.4 Billion deficit!




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