11/29/2013 05:02 EST | Updated 11/29/2013 08:13 EST

MLA Wage Freeze: Alberta Legislature Freezes MLAs' Pay For 3 Years


A vote that passed Friday effectively freezing MLA wages is "a cynical, cheap stunt," designed to help the province find some moral ground to pass anti-union laws, said Liberal leader Raj Sherman Friday.

The legislation, which tabled and passed by the Tories, freezes MLA wages for three years.

The motion exemplifies the government's willingness to lead by example, said Alberta Premier Alison Redford in a statement.

“This multi-year pay freeze for MLAs follows similar agreements with doctors and teachers that included three years of pay freezes while ensuring they remain among the highest paid professionals in the country," she said.

But the move is disingenuous, said Sherman.

As the province currently tries to undermine binding arbitration and collective bargaining processes for public servants, freezing MLAs wage fails to be even symbolic he said.

"We are the highest paid MLAs. MLAs in Alberta are paid $156,311 a year, that is second only to Quebec in Canada," he said, adding that only five years ago, MLAs $91,000 made per year, before committee work.

Freezing politicians' wages at such high levels when unions are fighting for basic components to the structure of their contracts is not leadership, added Sherman.

The Wildrose Party also issued a statement saying party leader Danielle Smith and MLA Heather Forsythe both supported the pay freeze but also panned the legislation as dishonest.

“The reason to freeze MLA pay is to be leaders and to set the tone for the rest of government,” Smith said.

“The PCs first hiked their own salaries and then rejected a multi-year freeze. That set the tone for the rest of government. Now, with the budget spiraling out of control, they are forcing multi-year pay freezes on the public sector and trying to bury their past behaviour.”

The vote, which Sherman walked out on, sparked renewed calls for a citizens' council to determine MLA pay.

"Nowhere else in society do people get to set their own pay," said Sherman.

"It would be interesting to see the Redford government get a taste of its own medicine."

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