Canadian Taxpayers Federation Billboards Target MP Pensions

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CANADIAN TAXPAYERS FEDERATION BILLBOARDS
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has put up billboards targeting MP pensions in five cities. (CTF) | CTF

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is launching a billboard advertising campaign targeting what the group describes as MPs' "lavish" pensions.

Billboards reading "For every $1 an MP puts into their pension, taxpayers put in $24" appeared in in Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Ottawa and Halifax on Wednesday.

The ads refer to the fact that most of the funding for MP pensions comes from taxpayers rather than contributions from politicians.

"(Taxpayers) are putting more money into the pension plan than they are actually paying MPs in salary every year," Gregory Thomas, the CTF's federal director, told HuffPost back in January.

While backbench MPs earn $157,731 a year, Thomas said, an additional $248,000 is added to each of their pensions every year by taxpayers, while they may contribute as little as $10,990.

The system has been rigged so the MP pension plan -- which unlike the Canadian Pension Plan or RRSPs is not invested in the market -- pays itself a 10.4 per cent rate of return.

The objective of the new campaign is to encourage Canadians to pressure MPs to make major changes when the Conservative government takes action on pensions, something widely expected to take place this fall.

"We know the government is planning to modify the MP pension plan this fall, and we want to make sure it’s a full-blown overhaul and not just a minor tinker," said Thomas in a press release. "If they go from the current $24 from taxpayers for every $1 from an MP ratio, down to $18 to $1 or $12 to $1, that’s simply not going to cut it."

The CTF wants the current program shut down and replaced with a $1 for $1 matching scheme. The group also wants parliamentarians convicted of offences related to their positions to be barred from receiving benefits.

In March of 2011, Raymond Lavigne resigned from the Senate after being found guilty of fraud and breach of trust, convictions which stemmed from fraudulent expense claims and improper use of staff. The resignation ensured Lavigne would be able to collect his pension. If he has been ejected by fellow senators, he might have received nothing.

The CTF is hoping to avoid similar scandals in the future by changing the rules.

MPs and senators contributed $4.5 million to the pension plan in 2010-2011, while taxpayers added $110.7 million, according to the CTF. You can see the 10 largest MP pensions in the slideshow below.

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