Forget about a gold-plated pension plan, top-of-the-line medical and dental plans, career assistance plans, long-term disability and life insurance plans, transition allowances, out-of-town rental assistance, furniture allowance, paid office allowances, or $119,000 office constituency allowance ($59,343 between April and September 2014).
Forget about all of these, if you can, and try to remember one number: $149,754.05.
Let’s round it to the nearest recognizable number for the sake of ease: $150,000.
While all those benefits, perks and, to be fair, some reasonable operating expenses amount to nearly the same number — let’s put them aside for the moment.
The $149,754.05 hereinafter referred to as $150K is the amount taxpayers have paid North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice in the past 12 months.
MLA Rice has provided expense reports for $47,895.05 and her base salary is $101,859 per year.
Again, forget about the plans, allowances and assistance mentioned earlier. The direct, basic cost for the service Rice has provided the North Coast in the past 12 months is $150K.
The first-term MLA Rice serves as the opposition spokesperson for rural and northern health and deputy opposition spokesperson for children and family development.
She also serves as the advocate and representative of the North Coast.
B.C. NDP MLA Robin Austin for Skeena is in his third term and is the New Democrat official opposition spokesperson for northern economic development.
He comes in at $132,397.63. When compared to North Coast’s Rice, the difference is $17,356.42. Let’s just call it $17,000 more paid out to Rice.
Of course, some North Coasters will quickly point out that it’s just plain more expensive in Prince Rupert than Terrace, especially travel costs. The NDP’s Doug Donaldson out of Hazelton is a perfect example of that.
Donaldson, the MLA for Stikine, is in his second term and was a four-term municipal councillor before being elected in 2009. He costs the taxpayer $164,752.51.
So, let’s just call it even.
Between the three, they were paid by the taxpayer $446,904.19, an average of $148,968.06 in the past 12 months. Again forget about the allowances, plans, etc…, the base cost of MLA Rice is just a smidge above the average for a Northwest B.C. MLA.
Now that the numbers are clear, the question is: Are we getting a good bang for our buck?
Ferry cutbacks, lack of infrastructure and services support, the list of North Coast discontent is long and varied. Obviously, the B.C. Liberals are not listening to Ms. Rice.
And after NDP leader John Horgan’s surprising comments regarding LNG development that will happen in Kitimat versus Prince Rupert, it’s obvious, we’re not being heard in the NDP caucus as well.
While Mr. Horgan is doing some fancy back-pedalling, see the letter to the editor on the next page, the fact he made the comments originally, gives one pause for thought.
Is Ms. Rice being heard by anyone in Victoria?
If not, that $150K doesn’t seem like money well spent.