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'It is not too late to do the right thing:' QS pens letter opposing pay increase for MNAs

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The leaders of the second opposition party Quebec Solidaire have penned a letter asking the other leaders in the national assembly to reject the suggested 21 per cent salary increase for members of the body.

QC leaders Gabriel Nadeu-Dubois and Manon Masse were responding to the committee recommendation last week that MNAs' salaries be increased by around $30,000, calling it "neither justified nor justifiable."

"We are writing to ask you not to implement this recommendation," the letter reads. "Currently, the lowest salary received by a member of the national assembly is $139,745 per year, not including several benefits, including one of the most generous pension plans in Quebec. You know as well as we do that only 10 MNAs receive this basic allowance: 115 MNAs out of 125 receive additional allowances, which can bring their total remuneration to over $200,000."

The QS letter points out that $30,000 is equivalent to more than an entire year's salary for someone who works minimum wage. Those making $15.25-per-hour, working 37.5 hours a week, would make $29,341.

The QS letter points out that the increase is higher than the annual inflation rate (around 4 to 6 per cent) and that the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is proposing a nine per cent salary increase for public service nurses and teachers.

"To award ourselves such a pay rise would send a message of disconnection to the people we represent," the letter reads.

The committee that recommended the increase was composed of former Liberal minister Lise Thériault, former PQ MNA Martin Ouellet and a human resources specialist, Jérôme Côté. the committee found that MNAs' work has increased considerably and become more complex.

"For me, it was an eye-opener to see how much of the work these people do," said Côté at a news conference last week. "The average salary for a Quebec person has increased $35,000 over the last 10 years. When we compare to the MNAs, it's 15 per cent."

A 2019 survey found that MNAs work, on average, over 60 hours per week.

The national assembly is set to vote on whether to accept the recommendations, which the QS leaders say is a "direct conflict of interest."

QS proposes that an independent committee be mandated with reviewing the working conditions and wages of MNAs.

"Let's set up a truly independent process that will get Quebec MNAs out of the unfortunate position of having to decide on their own compensation," the letter reads. "It is not too late to do the right thing."

Voting on a pay increase, the letter says, will "fuel cynicism towards our political institutions." 

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