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.
Top 10 Most Expensive MP Pensions
Welcome to the $3 million club. The following 10 MPs will each receive an estimated total lifetime pension of more than $3 million if they retire in 2019. All the <a href="http://taxpayer.com/sites/default/files/CTFMP-PensionReport-WEB.pdf" target="_hplink">estimates come from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation</a> and are based on an MP retiring in 2019 and ceasing to receive their pension at age 80. The numbers if the MPs retire in 2015 are also included in the caption to each slide.
10. Michael Chong - $3,124,903
Conservative MP Michael Chong would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,684,816 if he were to retire in 2015.
9. Peter Van Loan - $3,194,114
Conservative MP Peter Van Loan would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,462,029 if he were to retire in 2015. (CP)
8. Rona Ambrose - $3,330,876
Conservative MP Rona Ambrose would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,429,149 if she were to retire in 2015. (CP)
7. Rob Anders - $3,643,873
Conservative MP Rob Anders would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,034,089 if he were to retire in 2015. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
6. Denis Coderre - $3,701,989
Liberal MP Denis Coderre would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,288,821 if he were to retire in 2015. (Graham Hughes/CP)
5. Scott Brison - $3,723,666
Liberal MP Scott Brison would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,113,881 if he were to retire in 2015.
4. James Moore - $3,795,386
Conservative MP James Moore would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,893,658 if he were to retire in 2015. (Althia Raj)
3. Gerry Byrne - $3,996,498
Liberal MP Gerry Byrne would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,450,711 if he were to retire in 2015.
2. Jason Kenney - $4,318,507
Conservative MP Jason Kenney would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,416,779 if he were to retire in 2015. (CP)
1. Stephen Harper - $5,596,474
Prime Minister Stephen Harper would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $5,456,109 if he were to retire in 2015. Harper's numbers are based on the PM not buying back into the program for his service as a Reform Party MP between 1993-1997. In order to make a political statement, Harper did not contribute to the pension program during his time as a Reform MP. After returning to Parliament Hill in 2002, Harper could have retroactively contributed to the program for his service from 1993 to 1997. According to the PMO, Harper has not and will not make those contributions. MPs are not obligated to disclose this information. If Harper were to choose to buy back in for those years, his numbers would change. If he were to buy back in and retire in 2019 he would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $6,216,858 and $6,233,568 if he were to retire in 2015. His numbers also include the special allowance he will receive as Prime Minister. An earlier version of this story used the numbers based on Harper buying back in for the 1993 to 1997 period. After being contacted by the PMO with the prime minister's pledge not to do so, the numbers were updated. (CP)