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This article was published 12/5/2015 (1713 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WHILE defending the $670,000 in severance paid out to seven ex-NDP staffers, Premier Greg Selinger tried to turn the tables on the Opposition Leader Monday by releasing the names of seven Tory staff and executives who left since Brian Pallister became party boss.
The issue of the severance pay, made public by the government late last week, dominated question period at the legislature Monday.
"If the member wants to talk and explain rationales for why (NDP) staff have left, perhaps he can explain why so many staff have left his office in the last year and half," Selinger said.
Pallister responded that human resources is the toughest part of running a business, but none of his former staff and executives were paid severance packages on the taxpayers' dime.
"The issue is when you take taxpayers money and start paying people to leave," Pallister said outside the House.
He also said five of his caucus staff left voluntarily and were not entitled to severance payments. The other two were former party chief executive officers Jonathon Scarth and his replacement, Lyle Bauer. Their severance would have been paid by the Tory party.
The government said last week $670,000 in severance was paid to seven ex-NDP staffers, who fell victim to the recent NDP leadership battle after supporting candidate Theresa Oswald, severance the premier described as paid in "mutual separation agreements."
The premier declined to answer questions about the payouts last Friday, leaving the legislative assembly through a side door and not speaking to reporters. In a statement, he said the amounts paid to each ex-staffer would not be released for privacy reasons. However, the amounts will be released in Public Accounts documents in about a year. It's already been reported Liam Martin, former chief of staff to Selinger, was paid $146,047 in severance.
On Monday Selinger answered reporters' questions, and said one reason amounts are high is because working as political staffer is not as stable as a career in the private sector. Severance packages outside of government are generally two weeks' salary for every year of service.
"People that work in political staff positions, there has always been a standard practice with respect to that," the premier said. "This is following more or less the normal procedures and it is based on advice for our professional lawyers and HR people.
"Severance packages are negotiated for people that served in political offices," he said. "Again, it's well within what is considered advisable by our legal and HR staff. They make recommendations on what they think is reasonable and appropriate in each circumstance."
The seven NDP staffers who left the government are: Martin; Anna Rothney, cabinet priorities and planning secretary; Meaghan Dewar, head of issues management for the executive council; Matt Williamson, director of communications; Jen Anthony, director of issues management for the government; Alissa Brandt, director of the premier's secretariat; and Sally Housser, associate director of cabinet communications.
Updated on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 8:31 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds video