Alberta MLAs highest paid in Canada

When Travis Toews, Alberta’s finance minister, commented last week on wage negotiations between the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and Alberta Public Service, one thing he mentioned was that “Alberta’s government has led the way with pay cuts for the Premier, MLAs and most recently for political staff”.

The pay cuts to MLAs he’s referring to was a 5% wage cut (and 10% for the premier) implemented last year. This brought the base MLA salary from $127,296 to $120,936, the first cut since the PCs cut compensation in 2015 (also by 5%).

There were no changes to MLA base compensation under the NDP.

Related to this change, and the AUPE negotiations, someone recently reached out to me to see if I had researched how Alberta MLA compensation compares to that of the other provinces.

I hadn’t, so I did.

Base compensation

Alberta MLAs are definitely paid more than their counterparts in the other provinces. Here’s what it looks like in a graph:

The red line is the average of all the provinces, which happens to be $98,448.21.

Now, since Alberta has the highest compensation, it’s going to drive up the average of all the provinces. So, here’s what the provinces look like with the average of all the provinces besides Alberta, which is $95,949.57.

This makes 5 provinces above the average, with 2 others pretty close.

However, it also means that Alberta is no longer $22,487.79 higher than the average. If you don’t include them in the average calculation, then they’re $24,986.43 above the average.

In the first instance, Alberta is 22.84% higher than the national average, but 26.04% higher than the adjusted average. The next highest is Ontario, which is at 18.39% and 21.47%, respectively.

Now, there might be a few readers who are thinking to themselves, “Well, Alberta has the highest median income in the country, so it’d make sense that MLA compensation here would be higher.”

And they’d be right.

See? Median wage is highest in Canada. MLA compensation is highest in Canada. Makes sense, right?


What if we compared the median wage in each province with the MLA compensation in those provinces?

Well, here’s what we get:

BaseMedian wageDifference

Not only is the median wage highest in Alberta and not only is MLA compensation highest in Alberta, but the difference between the two is also the highest of all the province.

Alberta MLAs have a base compensation that is $80,136 more than the median wage.

Here’s another way to look at it, the difference between the averages.

Median wageBaseDifference
Unadjusted average13.49%22.84%1.69
Adjusted average15.22%26.04%1.71

In other words, the difference between Alberta MLAs’ base compensation and the national average is about 1.7 times higher than the difference between the Alberta median wage and the national average.

Not only do Alberta MLAs get more than MLAs in other provinces, but the gap between how much they get and the median wage in their province is the highest in the country.

You can find the data and all the graphs here.

Even after two 5% wage cuts in 4 years, Alberta MLAs are still the highest paid in Canada.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

8 replies on “Alberta MLAs highest paid in Canada”

Thanks for your story!
Third graph brings into focus the conservative run provinces as most highly paid for failing to govern regarding Covid.

Great comparison. Now do we have much the MLAs actually take home? Do they get extra compensation for committee work and is part of their pay tax exempt?

If the current alberta government wants to bring the nurses compensation closer to the other provinces they should bring their own wages closer to the provincial average.

It would be nice to see the salaries of the First Nation chiefs of Alberta, with their benefits etc as compared to the MLAs etc….. but that will never happen…right

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