Contributed by George Smitherman, MPP representing Toronto Centre – Rosedale, Toronto Centre in the 34th, 35th and 36th Parliament (1999-2010)
Position: Member of the Ontario Legislature
Employer: Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Position Rank: 1 of 124 “Seats” in the Legislature
MPP Compensation: $ 116, 550 (unchanged 2010!) (Less than Toronto City Councillors and much less than MP)
None. Employer makes a contribution of 10 % of gross pay to a locked in RRSP. (unlike MPs who are made eligible for a pension after 6 years of elected service or City Councillors who can participate in the Municipal pension plan, MPPs do not have an avenue to participate in a Pension Plan).
MPP Global Budget Each Member of the Ontario Legislature receives a “Global Budget” for the staffing and operation of their community office and to staff their office at Queen’s Park. Historically the budget has not been adjusted to reflect the reality of much higher office lease costs in Urban areas. Resource allocation will be challenging because the MPP for Toronto Centre will be experiencing 100 % of their staff and office expenditure in a very expensive environment.
MPPs who are not the Premier or a Minister will obtain an office in the Ontario Legislature Main Building or North Wing. Ministers and the Premier have their MPP staff physically integrated within their executive office.
First and foremost the job of an MPP is to be an energetic problem solver and community animator. A successful MPP will be capable of functioning in a multi – stakeholder environment where careful balancing of time, energy and political capital must be strategically managed to produce tangible results.
MPPs come together in sittings of the Legislature Monday to Thursday about 6 months of the year. Other times of the year will provide the MPP more flexibility to prioritize their calendar and focus. Whereas an MPP who travels to Toronto and stays at a secondary apartment funded by the Legislature may be shielded from attending events every night of the year, the MPP for Toronto Centre has no excuse since the Legislature actually sits in Toronto Centre.
Functioning at once as a local representative and as a contributing participant in the caucus of a political party (almost always) often relies upon skills that are not taught. MPPs who are called upon to take on greater leadership roles within their party or as Minister within the Government can experience even greater tension and conflict militating between “local” and “provincial” roles and policy stances.
The 124 Members of the Ontario Legislature provide oversight to the Executive function of the government. The Ontario Government has a budget of nearly $ 200 Billion dollars, directly employs 60,000 and indirectly employs 100,000s more in the broader public sector (BPS) including Hospitals, Schools, Colleges and Universities and more.