Let’s talk about how we earn our salaries. Most of us have to do work to get paid, and for a lot of us that also means having to go to a workplace, even out of town. What about our elected officials?
Tasha Kheiriddin wrote an opinion column about our Parliament’s sitting days and why we should care. She wrote on Oct. 20, 2021: “To date this year, the House has sat for 76 days, and 20 more are planned, for a total of 96. The past Parliament didn’t see much action, either, sitting for 86 days in 2020. And the House sat for just 75 days in 2019. From 2016 to 2020, it sat 105.6 days on average, compared with an average of 123 days per year from 1975–2015, and 138 days yearly from 1945 to 1975.”
Why are we letting the foxes guard the chicken coop? Politicians decide their salaries and their number of days of work. Please imagine this for a moment in the corporate world or even if you tried to do this as a public servant.
“Hey boss, I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on my core work for 27 fewer days than I worked on average five years ago, okay? And yes, that is already 15 days less than I worked 40 years earlier. I don’t think I should get a pay cut, in fact, while we’re at it, I still expect an annual increase.”
The absurdity of this scenario is clear. The contrast of it compared to how workers in Ontario, specifically, are being treated is even more ironic. In Ontario, our premier won’t even give us paid sick days during a pandemic. The implication, of course, is that it has been lip service when he’s said how essential our essential workers are. Instead, the policy reads that they are replaceable and disposable, and not worth keeping them or the rest of the workforce healthy.
At least at the federal level the Liberals said they’d amend the Canada Labour Code to provide 10 days of paid sick leave to all federally regulated workers. I have to wonder how they’re proposing to pay for this. But, then again, when you’ve grown the deficit significantly because of the pandemic, what’s another several million/billion dollars between friends?
When the government does come back, I hope that they are feeling very rested and ready to get a lot of work done, because there is much to do. Perhaps they are taking extra time off to make sure that they not only review their election promises, but also the ones that were reneged upon in the last round? (Anyone else remember Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying that 2015 would be the last election with a first past the post system?)
As almost the same government is back in the House, I feel like I’m trapped in a quote often credited to Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity of doing the same thing and expecting different results.
We need to make sure that our politicians are clear about the fact that we expect Parliament to be sitting more, working on real solutions, for the environment (not just banning plastic straws), and not pandering to big corporations any longer. Perhaps we need to tie MPs salaries to the number of days that Parliament sits and we’ll see an uptick in productive parliamentary days.