The best part of writing this article each week, is the feedback that I receive from those that take the time to share with me.
I love reading each email I receive, and hearing the phone messages and having conversations with others who call.
Two weeks ago, in response to one of the articles I wrote, I was challenged about the pay that MLA’s receive.
I was asked how high the raises were for MLAs, and if I would be willing to forgo a raise.
I believe that the role of an MLA, which is 24/7 to do properly, should be remunerated appropriately.
Having said that, while British Columbians are dealing with skyrocketing inflation, it seems like the wrong time to be receiving a raise.
The NDP Government has already given themselves one pay raise this year, that was retroactive to last year. This was a 10,000 to 25,000 holdback for their Ministers. The BC Liberals had put into law that the budget needed to be balanced in order to achieve that bonus.
This last year, the NDP removed that clause – so that they no longer needed to balance the budget — and made it retroactive to the previous year, giving each of their Ministers a cool $20,000 to $50,000.
In contrast, during the last recession, the BC Liberals froze MLA pay for three years.
Previous to that, the BC Liberals tied compensation to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The idea was that this would be consistent with other public service employees and would limit government intervention, except in the case of extreme circumstances.
I would venture that the inflation British Columbians are experiencing qualifies as an extreme circumstance.
British Columbians are waiting for relief and beyond a couple of token announcements, this government has been absent from the conversation.
Our first week back in the legislature, MLA Todd Stone delivered a private members bill that would eliminate the raise that MLAs will receive in this next year.
This raise could be somewhere between 7-10% - for all MLAs.
The BC Liberals have asked the NDP to debate this bill and freeze our wages while inflation is brought into normal levels.
But sadly, with an NDP majority government, they are the only ones that can make that happen.
They decide if we get raises or not.
I have heard from so many how difficult inflation has been.
How so many are choosing between rent and food, or medicine, and extracurricular activities for the kids or gas.
Being an MLA means hearing about these difficulties and taking action.
In this case, taking action would mean suspending the legislated raises for MLA’s this year.
My question to you this week is this:
Do you think that the NDP Government should do more to help British Columbians suffering through inflation?
You can email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620 to let me know your thoughts.