Canada – Sessional Indemnity

The payment of Members of the Federal Parliament has been in vogue ever since Confederation. It has been found in practice to work well ; while not acting as a deterrent to men in a good financial position entering Parliament, it has enabled many, who would otherwise have been unable to do so, to use their talents in aiding in the government of their country. Changes have, from time to time, been made in the legislation on the subject, and a short summary of the parent Act, and the amendments thereto, may prove of interest An Act relating to the indemnity to members, and to the salaries of the Speakers of the House of Commons and of the Senate, was passed in the first session of Parliament after Confederation. This measure provided that the members of both Houses should receive remuneration at the rate of six dollars per day, if the session did not extend beyond thirty days ; if it extended beyond thirty days, an allowance of 600 dollars was made, and no more. In the case of non-attendance, both in this Act and subsequent amendments, deductions are provided for. To the Speakers of the House of Commons and the Senate, a salary of 3,200 dollars per annum was made payable. This Act was amended in the session of 1873, when it was laid down that the rate of the indemnity should be ten dollars for each day’s attendance when the session did not exceed thirty days, and, if this period was exceeded, a sessional allowance of 1,000 dollars was to be paid. The salaries of the Speakers of the House of Commons and the Senate were, by this Act, increased to 4,000 dollars per annum. In 1901 another amendment came into effect. The daily rate of remuneration remained the same, viz., ten dollars for each day of attendance ; but the amount payable to each member, in the event of the session extending beyond thirty days, was increased to 1,500 dollars. The Act was again amended in 1905, when the daily allowance was increased to twenty dollars for each day’s attendance to thirty days ; and, in the event of the session extending over thirty-one days, a sessional indemnity of 2,500 dollars, and no more, was payable. In addition to the daily allowance or the sessional indemnity, it is provided that there shall, for each session of Parliament, be allowed to Members of both Houses their moving or transportation expenses, and reasonable living expenses while on the journey between their places of residence and Ottawa, once each way. Members residing at a greater distance than 400 miles from Ottawa are allowed to commute their travelling and living allowance, receiving in lieu, the sum of fifteen dollars per day.

A novel feature in this measure was contained in a clause which provides that, to the member occupying the recognised position of leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, there shall be payable an additional sessional allowance of 7,000 dollars.

A sessional indemnity is paid by all the Provinces to the members of their several legislatures. In Ontario the allowance is ten dollars a day if the session does not extend beyond thirty days, and if the session does extend beyond thirty days, then there shall be payable to each member attending a sessional allowance of such sum as may be appropriated for the purpose. In Quebec for every session which extends beyond thirty days there is payable to each Legislative Councillor and to each member of the Legislature an indemnity of 1,500 dollars and no more. In Manitoba the allowance is fixed at 400 dollars per session ; and in British Columbia there is an allowance of 600 dollars.

The following are the powers conferred by the B. N. A. Act upon the Dominion Government :-

1. The public debt and property.

2. The regulation of trade and commerce.

3. The raising of money by any mode or system of taxation.

4. The borrowing of money on the public credit.

5. Postal service.

6. The census and statistics.

7. Militia, military and naval service and defence.

8. The fixing of, and providing for the salaries and allowances of civil and other officers of the Government of Canada.

9. Beacons, buoys, lighthouses and Sable Island.

10. Navigation and shipping.

11. Quarantine and the establishment and maintenance of marine hospitals.

12. Sea coast and inland fisheries.

13. Ferries between a province and any British or foreign country, or between two provinces.

14. Currency and coinage.

15. Banking, and the incorporation of banks and paper money.

16. Savings banks.

17. Weights and measures.

18. Bills of exchange and promissory notes.

19. Interest.

20. Legal tender.

21. Bankruptcy and insolvency.

22. Patents of invention and discovery.

23. Copyrights.

24. Indians and land reserved for the Indians.

25. Naturalisation and aliens.

26. Marriage and divorce.

27. The criminal law, except the constitution of the courts of criminal jurisdiction, but including the procedure in criminal matters.

28. The establishment, maintenance and management of penitentiaries.

29. Such classes of subjects as are expressly excepted in the enumeration of the classes of subject by this Act assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces.

The exclusive powers of Provincial Legislatures are as follows :

1. The amendment from time to time, notwithstanding anything in this Act, of the constitution of the province, except as regards the office of the Lieutenant-Governor.

2. Direct taxation within the province for the raising of a revenue for provincial purposes.

3. The borrowing of money on the sole credit of the province.

4. The establishment and tenure of provincial offices, and the appointment of provincial officials.

5. The management and sale of the public lands belonging to the province, and of the timber and wood thereon.

6. The establishment, maintenance and management of public and reformatory prisons in and for the province.

7. The establishment, maintenance and management of hospitals, asylums, charities, and eleemosynary institutions in and for the province, other than marine hospitals.

8. Municipal institutions in the province.

9. Shop, saloon, tavern, auctioneer, and other licences, for the raising of a revenue for provincial, local, or municipal purposes.

10. Local works and undertakings, other than such as are of the following classes :

(a) Lines of steam or other ships, railways, canals, telegraphs, and other works and undertakings connecting the province with any other or others of the provinces, or extending beyond the limits of the province.

(b) Lines of steamships between the province and any British or foreign country.

(c) Such works as, although wholly situate within the province, are before or after their execution declared by the parliament of Canada to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more of the provinces.

11. The incorporation of companies with provincial objects.

12. Solemnization of marriage in the province.

13. Property and civil rights in the province.

14. The administration of justice in the province, including the constitution, maintenance and organisation of provincial courts both of civil and of criminal jurisdiction, and including procedure in civil matters in those courts.

15. The imposition of punishment by fine, penalty or imprisonment for enforcing any law of the province made in relation to any matter coming within any of the classes of subjects enumerated in this section.

16. Generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the province.