Ontario premier Doug Ford announced this week that he’s given back a percentage of his annual salary after failing to present this year’s budget on time, thanks to COVID-19. His finance minister Rod Phillips followed suit.
"I haven’t told anyone any of this … I know it's not much, it's peanuts but I gave back $10,000 of my salary, 10 per cent of my MPP salary, along with the minister of finance," Ford said at a press conference on Monday. "I haven’t advertised that. We did it months ago."
While the premier gave the impression he gave up part of his salary by choice because of the delays, the move was the result of a compulsory penalty under his government’s rules.
Ford receives a salary as both an MPP and the premier. The annual salary for an MPP is $116,550. Ford’s annual salary as premier is $208,974.00.
Despite Ford's statement that he paid back 10 per cent of his MPP salary, a representative from his office confirmed the financial requital was part of his salary as premier.
The directive was introduced in the 2019 budget and authorized a specific time of year for when financial statements were to be delivered. This covered such things as budgets and economic updates. The legislation was intended to provide transparency into how the government handled finances.
According to the Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2019, the minister and premier must pay 10 per cent of their annual salary into the Consolidated Revenue if the deadline is not met. The act also states that “the Minister shall release a statement on or before the deadline in which the Minister explains why the deadline was not met and sets a new deadline to be met.”
The Ford government was scheduled to deliver the budget on March 31. However, the pandemic led to a provincial lockdown, which resulted in the delay of the budgetary plan. In lieu of the budget, Phillips put forward an economic update, with a plan to present the budget come November. This delay ultimately led to the legal requirement that Ford and Phillips submit a portion of their salaries, under their government’s legislation.