EDMONTON — Members of an all-party legislature committee voted unanimously Wednesday to freeze the salaries of MLAs for the next fiscal year.
The members of the Standing Committee on Member Services voted not to take an automatic 4.9 per cent increase based on the percentage increase of average weekly earnings provided by Statistics Canada.
The motion by Conservative Whip Frank Oberle was seconded by New Democrat Leader Brian Mason and passed with little discussion.
Premier Ed Stelmach announced last week that his Tory caucus was prepared to decline the cost of living increase to show leadership during the economic downturn.
He said political appointees, like executive assistants to cabinet ministers, and political staff in the premier’s office will also forego the raise.
Critics have pointed out that MLAs and cabinet ministers gave themselves massive raises last year and should not need the annual adjustment this year when the province is struggling to balance its budget.
Liberal Dave Taylor, a member of the committee, said there was little need to discuss the wage freeze because it was apparent it was the right thing to do.
He said a hike in the payment for MLAs serving on committees, which the Liberals voted against last year, gave them raises of $36,000 to $39,000.
“I don’t know of any real, ordinary working people in the real world that got that kind of raise last year,” he said after the vote. “If we can’t stretch those dollars to get through the next 12 months, I think we need to be talking to credit counsellors. We make enough.”