Nova Scotia’s MLA pension benefits should be reduced: Panel

Recommendations surround full pension eligibility, maximum percentage of salary
||Last Updated: 11/11/2011

A recently released report into pensions and other retirement benefits of Nova Scotia’s Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) recommends the rate at which a pension is earned per year be reduced to 3.5 per cent.

The existing rate is five per cent which is the highest in the country, found the report.

The three-person review panel, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice David Gruchy, recommends other adjustments:

•The maximum percentage of salary that can be earned as a pension should be reduced from 75 per cent to 70 per cent, which is the maximum available under a regular Nova Scotia public service pension.

•The number of years an MLA must serve to be eligible for a full pension should be increased from 15 years to 20 years.

•The earliest age at which a retired MLA can begin collecting a reduced pension should be raised from 45 years to 50 years of age.

The panel concluded that the suggested reductions in pension benefits provide a pension plan comparable to those in other provinces and territories, and which is reasonable, given the work that MLAs carry out and the other opportunities they forego.

The review panel also looked at the structure of MLA pension plans and retirement benefits in other provinces and territories.

Other recommendations include:

•The formula for the transitional allowance under the House of Assembly Act be made consistent with provisions in other jurisdictions by adjusting the calculation factor to one month for every year of service, rather than 0.067 of one year, to a maximum payment of 12 months.

•Having a provision for third-party career counselling services to a maximum of $7,500 for MLAs who leave office, to help them re-integrate into the workforce, as provided in a number of jurisdictions.

•That changes come into effect for MLAs elected in the next general election and not be retroactive.

The panel also learned that there are 11 former MLAs or surviving spouses who are over the age of 65 and receiving very small pensions for service before salaries were increased, and recommended that there be a minimum pension of $1,000 per month.

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