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Reduce MLAs by 30% - Backgrounder

Posted on April 23, 2015 by Meagan Parisian

On Thursday, the Alberta Party announced its plan to save money and make government more effective by reducing the number of MLAs by 30%. 

The following backgrounder explains this plan more in-depth.

1. How many MLAs would be eliminated under the Alberta Party plan?

The current 87 MLAs would be reduced by 26 for a new total of 61.

2. How would the boundaries be redrawn?

The Alberta Party would appoint an independent boundary commission to establish new boundaries for all constituencies.  The independent boundary commission would be required to conduct extensive public engagement prior to establishing the boundaries. 

3. How much variation in population should be allowed for each constituency?

The Alberta Party believes in representation by population and variations between constituencies should be minimized and held within the guidelines established by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

4. When would the MLA reduction take effect?

The new constituencies would be in place for the next general election.

5. Has any other province reduced the number of politicians?

Yes. Ontario reduced the number of Members of Provincial Parliament in 1996 with the Fewer Politicians Act. In Ontario, the provincial constituency boundaries now match the federal boundaries.  

6. How much money could be saved by cutting 30% of the MLAs?

We estimate that over four years, nearly $32 million could be saved by reducing the number of MLAs by 30%. See the table below for the calculation. 

MLA Indemnity (salary)

$127,296

Salary for MLA. Excludes additional compensation for Ministers and other MLAs who hold appointed positions are additional duties.

Office Operations

$30,388

Office for an MLA in an urban location is $27,262 and  allowance for rural MLAs is higher at $33,151. For the purposes of this example we used the average.

MLA Home security system

$1,500

 

MLA Temporary residence security system

$1,500

 

Staffing

$88,324

 

Supplies

$2,940

 

Amount equal to $1.30 x (E / 1.5) where E is equal to the number of electors in the constituency

$30,333.33

For this example we are assuming that there are 35,000 electors in each constituency.

Amount equal to $2,923 + ($0.0757 x (C - 14,000) where C is equal to the population in the constituency.

$5,421.10

For this example we are assuming 47,000 people per constituency

Plus adjustment amount set out in the matrix table in the Constituency Service Order.

$15,399.50

The amounts range from $6,120 to $24,679. For this example we used the median amount of $15,399.50.

Total amount per MLA

$303,101.93

 

Annual estimated savings for eliminating 26 MLAs

$7,880,650.27

This estimate is based on the assumptions set forth above and that all 26 ridings are identical.

Total savings over four years

$31,522,601.07

 

Sources: https://www.assembly.ab.ca/lao/hr/MLA/MLA%20Remuneration.htm

https://www.assembly.ab.ca/pro/standing/members_services_orders.pdf

https://www.assembly.ab.ca/pro/Expenditure_Guidelines_Members.pdf 

7. Won’t reducing the number of MLAs make it more difficult for rural MLAs?

For MLAs that live in large rural ridings we would increase the resources available to those MLA in order to better serve citizens.  For example, large rural constituencies could have more than one office and additional staff. We also note that all MLAs should improve how they use technology in order to serve citizens better.

We note that other elected representatives represent more people than MLAs, who represent on average 47,000 people. For example, councillors in Calgary and Edmonton represent 85,000 and 73,000 people respectively. Federal MPs, on average, represent approximately 114,000 people. 

8. Why does the Alberta Party believe that fewer MLAs will lead to better government?

It is well understood that smaller groups can make decisions faster. With 87 MLAs it is very difficult to allocate sufficient time for each MLA to express their constituents views in the Legislature. By reducing the number of MLAs we expect the quality of the debate to improve.

 

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