I am a BC MLA and I wish to remain anonymous. My "problem" is that I qualify for a gold-plated pension plan that has since been abolished for good reason. Now I am 69 and I am back in office and I qualify for the pension. Would it be alright with you if I just went ahead and collected that pension while still collecting my salary as an MLA?
In the report, presented recently to Speaker Bill Barisoff, Oliver wrote that he was approached before the May 2005 general election by an unnamed MLA about the “possible ethical issues” arising from an MLA’s collecting a pension at the same time he or she continues to be paid as an MLA.
“Since the member will be receiving both remuneration and pension in respect of the same employment, the member was concerned about the possibility that they might be accused of what is sometimes referred to as ‘double dipping’,” Oliver wrote in the report.
Oliver added that he’s faced the issue previously, and has read letters of advice from “leading tax lawyers”, as well as from chartered accountants.
After listening to this advice, Oliver decided there is nothing wrong with the practice. The rules and regulations of the federal Income Tax Act require that the pension begin no later than the end of the year in which the MLA reaches his or her 69th birthday, Oliver wrote. As well, under the rules of the B.C. Public Service Pension Plan, the benefits cannot be deferred, he noted.
Oliver had some reassuring words for any MLAs troubled by pangs of guilt for both collecting pensions from the time the pension scheme was still in effect, as well as presently picking up MLA salaries. “The member has, in my views, explored all possible avenues to counter any suggestion that he has been unjustly enriched by receiving pension benefits whilst still in active service,” he wrote.