Recently, the Alberta government released the most recent Report of Selected Payments.
The 105-page report outlines the various payments made to MLAs, including salary, benefits, and expense reimbursements, between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022.
I decided to go through the document, extract the data, and import it into a spreadsheet so I could compare amounts. You can see the spreadsheet here.
First, here are the totals for the various payment categories for the 87 current MLAs. Let’s start with remuneration and benefits:
Compensation is the base amount each MLA receives, which was $120,936.
Retirement is the retirement investment amount (equal to 13% of their indemnity allowance). For every current MLA, it was $15,722.
Fees are the amounts paid for serving on committees. Generally membership in a government committee is unpaid, but committee chairs are paid. Only 13 MLAs were paid fees.
Statutory salary is an added amount on top of the base salary, and is for those who hold additional offices, such as premier, leader of the official opposition, ministers, government whips, and so on.
And, of course, benefits include CPP, WCB, a health plan, and—if the MLA chooses to do so—a matching contribution to their personal RRSP account.
Now for expense reimbursements:
This is all pretty self-explanatory, but I should point out that accommodation includes not just accommodation expenses while travelling within the province on MLA business but also expenses incurred in maintaining a temporary residence to attend a legislative sitting or other MLA business.
Now let’s add them all up.
|Remuneration & benefits||$14,369,722|
So, the Alberta government paid out over $16.8 million to current MLAs in salary, benefits, and expense reimbursements. (And “other”, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)
The Alberta government also doles out payments each year to the Legislative Assembly Pension Plan for former members of the assembly or their spouses or beneficiaries. In total, there was nearly $3.1 million paid out during the 2021–2022 budget year to the pensions of 93 former MLAs.
Now that we know the numbers, let’s look at some of the specifics.
For example, the MLA with the highest total remuneration last year was Jason Kenney, which shouldn’t be that surprising. Alberta’s premier gets the highest additional allowance, at a total of $65,244 per year. In total, he received $213,606 last year.
The next highest was Prasad Panda, the infrastructure minister, who received $60,468 in statutory pay and total remuneration of $211,951. Rajan Sawhney, who served as minister of Community and Social Services and then as transportation minister, received just $1 less than that.
There were actually another 17 MLAs who received over $200,000 last year:
|Tyler Shandro||Minister: health; labour; justice||$211,752|
|Jason Nixon||Minister: environment||$211,699|
|Doug Schweitzer||Minister: jobs, economy & innovation||$211,698|
|Josephine Pon||Minister: seniors and housing||$211,687|
|Ric McIver||Minister: transportation||$211,584|
|Nate Glubish||Minister: Service Alberta; Tech & Innovation||$211,538|
|Sonya Savage||Minister: Energy||$211,536|
|Rebecca Schulz||Minister: Children’s Services||$211,514|
|Rick Wilson||Minister: Indigenous Relations||$211,490|
|Adriana LaGrange||Minister: Education||$211,380|
|Travis Toews||Minister: Finance||$210,422|
|Jason Copping||Minister: Labour & immigration; health||$209,763|
|Rachel Notley||Leader of official opposition||$209,291|
|Demetrios Nicolaides||Minister: Advanced education||$208,619|
|Kaycee Madu||Minister: Justice; labour & immigration||$204,467|
|Jason Luan||Minister: Community & social services||$201,688|
All but 2 of those 17 are ministers, and each minister receives a $60,468 top up, the same amount as the leader of the opposition and the speaker of the legislature, who is Nathan Cooper, listed as 5th on the list and 8th highest overall.
The lowest paid MLA is Laila Goodridge, a UCP member representing Fort McMurray–Lac La Biche, who received $69,374 in remuneration (including benefits) last year. She stepped down to run in the 2021 federal election.
There are 15 other MLAs who received under $150,000, 8 of whom are NDP members. The remaining MLAs received between $150,000 and $200,000; although, technically, only 3 of them received over $180,000.
Next, let’s discuss travel expenses. These are expenses incurred while travelling as part of conducting business, either as a minister or as an MLA. This includes mileage for personal vehicle use, vehicle rentals, air fare, accommodation, meals, taxis, and parking.
Minister travel expenses
The minister claiming the most in travel expenses was Travis Toews, who was paid $19,547 in travel reimbursements for work he did as finance minister. He also was reimbursed for $16,402 in MLA travel expenses.
The next highest travel expenses for a minister was for Prasad Panda, who received $15,542. Eight others—Mike Ellis, Sonya Savage, Tyler Shandro, Dale Nally, Kaycee Madu, Rebecca Schulz, Jason Copping, and Rick Wilson—also received over $10,000 in travel expenses for minister work.
Dan Williams received the lowest reimbursement for travel expenses as a current minister: $358. The next lowest were Leela Aheer and Ric McIver, who received $1,416 and $1,535, respectively.
MLA travel expenses
As far as MLA travel expenses go, Nathan Cooper, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills, came in at the highest, having been reimbursed $48,613 for travel expenses related to MLA work. The next highest was Dan Williams , UCP MLA for Peace River, who was reimbursed for $36,210. The 10 highest amounts that were reimbursed were over $20,000.
|Nathan Cooper||UCP||Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills||$48,613|
|Dan Williams||UCP||Peace River||$36,210|
|Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk||UCP||Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville||$31,182|
|Jason Nixon||UCP||Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre||$26,286|
|David Hanson||UCP||Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul||$24,797|
|Drew Barnes||UCP||Cypress-Medicine Hat||$24,017|
|Todd Loewen||UCP||Central Peace-Notley||$22,579|
|Pat Rehn||UCP||Lesser Slave Lake||$21,925|
Here are the MLAs with the 10 lowest reimbursements for MLA travel expenses:
|Adriana LaGrange||UCP||Red Deer-North||$936|
|David Shepherd||NDP||Edmonton-City Centre||$699|
|Jon Carson||NDP||Edmonton-West Henday||$130|
|Christina Gray||NDP||Edmonton-Mill Woods||$11|
|Kaycee Madu||UCP||Edmonton-South West||$0|
|Nate Glubish||UCP||Strathcona-Sherwood Park||$0|
Keep in mind that 5 of those 10 claimed travel expenses while ministers or associate ministers over the last year.
Other travel expenses
There was also 1 MLA—Tracy Allard—who was reimbursed for what was labelled as “other” travel expenses, basically those incurred while serving on government boards, commissions, committees, or other bodies. Allard received $9,905.
Referred to technically as subsistence allowance, this consists of accommodation costs while travelling within the province on MLA business or maintaining a temporary residence to attend a legislative sitting or other MLA business.
The MLA who received the highest reimbursement in this area was Joseph Schow, the UCP MLA for Cardston-Siksika, at $25,592. The next highest was Martin Long UCP MLA for West Yellowhead, who was reimbursed $25,328.
There were 48 MLAs who were each reimbursed for over $20,000 worth of subsistence expenses. Here are the 10 highest:
|Martin Long||UCP||West Yellowhead||$25,328|
|Tany Yao||UCP||Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo||$24,937|
|Tracy Allard||UCP||Grande Prairie||$24,465|
|Michaela Frey-Glasgo||UCP||Brooks-Medicine Hat||$24,347|
|Dan Williams||UCP||Peace River||$24,334|
|Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk||UCP||Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville||$24,269|
|David Hanson||UCP||Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul||$23,800|
There were 6 MLAs who claimed $0 in accommodation expenses:
|Jon Carson||NDP||Edmonton-West Henday|
|Kaycee Madu||UCP||Edmonton-South West|
|Nate Glubish||UCP||Strathcona-Sherwood Park|
It shouldn’t be a surprise that these are all in the Edmonton area.
If we add all of the reimbursement amounts up, here are the 10 MLAs with the highest payouts:
|Nathan Cooper||UCP||Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills||$72,318|
|Dan Williams||UCP||Peace River||$60,902|
|Travis Toews||UCP||Grande Prairie-Wapiti||$57,179|
|Jason Nixon||UCP||Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre||$55,792|
|Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk||UCP||Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville||$55,451|
|Martin Long||UCP||West Yellowhead||$49,161|
|David Hanson||UCP||Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul||$48,597|
What’s interesting is that of these 10, only 2 are ministers— Toews and Nixon—although Cooper is the speaker. Dan Williams is the non-minister MLA with the highest total expense reimbursement payout.
Here are the 10 lowest for total reimbursements:
|Jon Carson||NDP||Edmonton-West Henday||$130|
|Christina Gray||NDP||Edmonton-Mill Woods||$437|
|David Shepherd||NDP||Edmonton-City Centre||$1,376|
|Jordan Walker||UCP||Sherwood Park||$1,721|
There were 4 MLAs who received payments that don’t fall into any of these other categories:
|Kaycee Madu||UCP||Edmonton-South West||$2,340|
Here are what they’re for:
- Luan: Pension benefits under the Local Authorities Pension Plan. Prior to being elected, Luan was a city planner with the City of Calgary for over 20 years.
- Wilson: Blind trust fees paid by the Department of Indigenous Relations
- Madu: Membership fees to Law Society of Alberta paid by the Department of Justice and Solicitor General
- Schweitzer: Membership fees to Law Society of Alberta paid by the Department of Jobs, Economy and Innovation
Since I live in Lethbridge, I’m taking some editorial liberty to highlight how the 2 local MLAs fared:
|Remuneration||Nathan Neudorf||Shannon Phillips|
2. Phillips chairs the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which is where the fee comes from. She was also environment minister for the first few weeks of the fiscal year, just prior to the election.
|Reimbursement||Nathan Neudorf||Shannon Phillips|
So, Neudorf received a combined $198,111 (including reimbursements), and Phillips received a combined $194,789. Last year, they received $188,682 and $188,449, respectively (including reimbursement for expenses).
Finally, here’s a breakdown of what the government paid out last year and the previous year.
|Remuneration & benefits||$14,510,330||$14,491,904||-$18,426|
|Former MLA pensions||$3,287,261||$3,097,775||-$189,486|
Update (1 Feb 2022): The original version of this chart add up all rows, rather than just remuneration & benefits, total reimbursements, other, and former MLA pensions. As a result, it showed a total payment that was $17 million higher.