Home Personal Finance Elections Act changes mean more MPs could qualify for a pension

Elections Act changes mean more MPs could qualify for a pension

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Moving the fixed election day by one week in 2025 would mean dozens of MPs, primarily Conservatives, will pass the six years of service needed for a pension

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A tweak to the Elections Act the Liberals introduced this week could allow for about 80 MPs to qualify for a House of Commons pension.

Minister Dominic LeBlanc unveiled a suite of changes to the Elections Act on Wednesday, including expanded days for advance voting and an easier process for mail-in ballots, but it would also move the current proposed fixed election day from Oct. 20 to Oct. 27, 2025.

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The extra week would move the election away from Diwali, a Hindu religious festival starting on Oct. 20 and lasting several days, as well as municipal elections in Alberta on Oct. 20, although the Liberal government would have still been free to call an election for before that day.

LeBlanc said overall the bill was about strengthening democracy.

“Our government believes that a strong democracy begins with enabling all Canadians to freely exercise their fundamental right to choose their representatives and we’ll always be there to defend that right,” he said.

The one-week delay has a significant impact on MP pensions, however.

MPs receive a pension, but in order to be vested in the plan they must have at least six years of service. Any MP elected in 2019 would need to have reached that six-year mark if the election was held on Oct. 20, 2025, but will have reached that cut-off on Oct. 27, the new proposed date.

The LIberals lost seats in the 2019 election, as they moved from a majority to the first of now two minority governments. As a result the primary beneficiary of this change would be Conservative MPs, 32 of whom won their seats for the first time in 2019.

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The second largest number of MPs to benefit are Liberals, with 22 MPs who would qualify under the proposed change. The NDP have six MPs elected in 2019, and the Bloc Québécois have 20.

Leblanc’s spokesperson, Jean-Sébastien Comeau, said the change to the election day is not about pensions.

“The amendments to the Canada Elections Act that we introduced yesterday are aimed first and foremost at maximizing voter participation and protecting the integrity of federal elections,” he said in an email. “Given that an important religious holiday and municipal elections will be held in Alberta on October 20, 2025, we are proposing to move the date of the federal election to October 27, 2025.”

The government isn’t bound by the fixed election date and in a minority the Liberals could lose the confidence of the House of Commons at any point, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he expects the election to take place in 2025.

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MPs who don’t serve six years receive are refunded their pension contributions and the ones the government makes on their behalf, but are not entitled to a pension. MPs can start receiving pension payments on a reduced basis as early as age 55 and qualify for a full pension at 65.

While six years of service is the minimum, pension amounts grow with more years in Parliament.

Franco Terrazzano, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the election day change seems suspicious.

“It’s safe to say struggling Canadians will be outraged by this. Canadians have every right to believe that this looks like the government is pushing back the election so more MPs can take a very lucrative taxpayer-funded pension,” he said. “The result of this will be taking more money from struggling Canadians and giving that money to already extremely well-paid politicians.”

National Post
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