Bill C-65 may boost MPs' pensions by $7m

A Liberal/NDP bill proposes election changes, potentially granting $7M in pensions to Nova Scotia MPs

Bill C-65 may boost MPs' pensions by $7m

A bill jointly proposed by the Liberal and NDP parties, spearheaded by Liberal Dominic LeBlanc and NDP MP Daniel Blaikie, stands to benefit four Nova Scotia MPs to the tune of nearly $7m in combined pension payments.  

Named Bill C-65, it was introduced last month with the aim of amending the federal Elections Act to enhance voting accessibility.  

Key provisions of the bill include introducing two days of advance voting, extending voting opportunities on campuses and in long-term care homes, allowing voting at any polling station within a voter's riding, and a proposal to shift the 2025 federal election date from October 20 to October 27.   

This shift is particularly significant as it would enable 80 MPs, including four from Nova Scotia, to meet the six-year service requirement for pension eligibility by a narrow margin if they lose their seats in the upcoming election.  

The timing of the previous federal election on October 21, 2019, means MPs first elected then and potentially losing in 2025 would fall short of the pension eligibility criteria by two days without this proposed change.   

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has highlighted the financial implications of this move, estimating that accommodating all 80 MPs could cost taxpayers $120m in pension payments, assuming these individuals live to the age of 90.  

This projection is based on the current average male life expectancy in Canada of 82.6 years.  

The four Nova Scotian MPs in question, elected in 2019, would receive varying pension amounts depending on their age at the time they start collecting pensions, projected to start at age 65 and assuming they live to 90.  

The calculations factor in an assumed inflation rate of two percent, though the current rate is around three percent.   

The MPs affected by this bill have offered mixed reactions. Chris D’Entremont, a Conservative MP from West Nova, expressed skepticism about the bill's timing and its implications for politicians' pensions, indicating a probable vote against it pending party decision. 

 Jaime Battiste, a Liberal MP, emphasized his focus on democratic process improvements over personal pension considerations, remaining undecided on his vote.  

Mike Kelloway, another Liberal MP, highlighted his commitment to his constituents over the electoral date change, indicating an open stance towards the bill's proposals.   

Dominic LeBlanc justified the election date change as an attempt to avoid overlap with the Hindu festival of Diwali and Alberta municipal elections. This rationale was criticized by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.  

The criticism came because the government refused to adjust the 2019 election date to avoid the Orthodox Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret. 

Jay Goldburg, interim Atlantic director for the federation, described the bill as a transparent attempt by politicians to secure taxpayer-funded pensions considering potential election losses.   

With the Liberal and NDP's backing of Bill C-65, its passage seems likely despite criticisms and the broader implications for electoral timing, MP pensions, and taxpayer costs.  

The bill's progress underscores the complex dynamics at play in federal election scheduling and the financial benefits for MPs nearing pension eligibility thresholds.