I was not planning to continue with this hot topic of entitlement, however, the past week’s events in our Senate had been exasperating. I listened to and read Senator Pamela Wallin’s statement in the Senate on October 23, 2013 defending herself against accusations she claimed ineligible travel expenses and arguing against a motion to suspend her without pay from the Senate.
How many people get fired and have an opportunity to speak at a podium for reconsideration? One can spin this any way we wish… what I want to hone in on specifically is her following statement…. “My very real concern remains the nature of the sanctions the Government intends to impose – suspension – or more accurately expulsion – without pay, no resources or benefits, including no health benefits – and that is a troubling prospect for a cancer survivor – so any hearing or process undertaken …”
Let’s have a closer look at this… our Senators earn a base salary of $135,200 plus per diems. The Toronto Star newspaper’s research has also revealed that she has been entitled to roughly $1 million in fees and stock options for her role on corporate boards since being appointed to the Senate. Many Senators do “moonlight”… some have private law practices, many sit on corporate boards with compensation, etc. It is reprehensible to hear Ms. Wallin complain about having “no resources or benefits, including no health benefits.”
If Ms. Wallin, in fact, have not done proper personal financial planning for her future retirement and healthcare concerns, given her financial ability to do so, than how can Canadians possibly expect her to be a good steward with the public coffer? If she had been a good steward with all her years of earnings, (and her income would be considered to be in the top 10%, perhaps even top 1%, of earnings in Canada), having no health benefits should be the least of her concern!
How many average Canadians have survived a critical illness and have no tax dollars to rely on to pay for their ongoing rehabilitation or maintenance prescription drugs? About 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes and 1 in 4 will die of the disease. So 75% are survivors – who’s paying for their health benefits?
Senator Mike Duffy’s statement to the Senate on October 22, 2013 also had much to say, however, again, I was behooved by his following statement “….., it deprives me not only of a paycheque but of a health plan, of life insurance. This, a guy who came back off sick leave because of serious heart problems. Who is going to buy the heart drugs I need? What kind of a country do we have when the power can override the sick-leave provisions of the federal Government of Canada health care act or arrangement? I’ve got a certificate at home that says I’m a member of the government health plan. Well, guess what? Senator Carignan has the power to tear it up. Doesn’t matter. I gave up a life insurance plan because I had government insurance under the Senate. What? That’s all going to be gone in the twinkling of an eye because of a conspiracy?”
Again, responsible financial planning by Mr. Duffy should have made this the least of his concern. “Who is going to buy the heart drugs I need?” WHY should I pay for his heart drugs? How could someone with such an illustrious career and earning power have no money for heart drugs? As far back as the eighties, Mr. Duffy was already part of the elite top 10% earners in Canada. His show, dubbed Sunday Edition, premiered in October 1988, and a tax court case revealed a three-year contract deal was worth a total of $343,000, including $20,000 in clothing allowances.
And life insurance? Well, most of us average Canadians are aware that we only have life insurance coverage while gainfully employed and that’s only if it’s even offered by one’s employer (it is a privilege, a benefit, not an entitlement). This is why it is important to maintain personal individual insurance even though one may have group coverage at our workplace. Why would Mr. Duffy terminate his personal life insurance? I guess he expected to be ‘employed’ for life with the government?
After all that has been said, would you not agree that these comments made by Wallin and Duffy are simply another facet of entitlement?