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MLAs deserve raise, eventually, report finds

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Manitoba’s MLA deserve a pay raise, but not yet.

That’s the finding of lawyer Michael Werier, the province’s independent commissioner appointed to decide MLA salaries, allowances and retirement benefits.

Werier reported to Speaker Daryl Reid today.

"In making these salary determinations, I have been guided by fairness, reasonableness and equitable compensation," he said in a statement.

Werier said the pay of Manitoba’s 57 MLAs should be set at $89,500, an increase of 4.6 per cent, effective April 1, 2014.

It would be the first pay raise for MLAs in five years.

Also on April 1, 2014, Werier set the additional pay for cabinet ministers at $49,000 and the premier's additional pay at $75,000.

These would also be the first pay raises for these positions in five years.

Werier’s decisions are binding on the legislative assembly and MLAs.

In determining MLA pay, Werier said he looked at pay rates of MLAs in other provinces, comparisons to civil servants, the economic health of the province, relationships to pay rates in the public and private sectors in Manitoba and general cost-of-living increases.

No one factor took priority over another, he said.

Due to legislative requirements brought in because of budget cuts, MLA and cabinet pay were frozen until April 2014 and cabinet pay reduced a further 20 per cent.

Manitoba MLA pay currently ranks eighth among the 10 provinces. With the 20 per cent reduction in cabinet pay, Manitoba's premier and cabinet ministers receive the lowest additional compensation in Canada.

Werier also said based on the workload involved and on comparisons with other provinces, a 10 per cent increase should be applied for 2012 to certain special positions such as caucus chair, house leader, whip, committee chair and deputy chair and legislative assistant.

Werier’s report also gives increases beginning this year to MLA allowances such as travel for southern MLAs, constituency office rent, constituency assistant salaries and moving expenses. These allowances are reimbursement for expenses incurred in the course of duties as a member of the legislative assembly.

"MLAs should not run out of funding before the end of the year in the performance of their public duties," Werier said. "The work of MLAs has changed and resources have to be provided."

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