Ex-MPs bill taxpayers for ivy league education

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2023/04/18

Welcome to Canada: where losing re-election is like winning a prestigious scholarship. 

Up to $15,000. All on the taxpayers’ dime.

Taxpayers are paying for ex-members of Parliament to attend schools most Canadians would have to be collegiate hockey stars to attend, including Harvard and Cornell universities. 

Citizens have also been billed for tuition costs at the Rotman School of Management, the McGill Executive Institute, the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Chopra Centre. 

That’s due to a little-known federal slush fund – officially called “transition support” – that MPs who lose or do not seek re-election can tap into. 

“Why are taxpayers on the hook for a $15,000-slush fund when we are already handing ex-MPs a $90,000-severance cheque?” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Most Canadians can’t get fired and still bill their former boss for an ivy league education and neither should MPs.”

And that’s just the tip of the perk-berg for Canadian politicians.


Departing Canadian MPs receive a slew of platinum perks compared to their counterparts in the Commonwealth, according to a CTF analysis. 

The annual salary for a backbench Canadian MP is $194,600

If they serve less than six years in office, departing MPs receive half of that salary  $97,300 – as severance. If they serve for more than six years, they are also eligible for a pension. 

Following the 2019 federal election, the CTF calculated the cost of severance and pension payments for departing MPs at $5.8 million and $104 million, respectively. In 2021, those figures were $3.3 million and $42 million. 

That represents a significantly higher burden on Canadian taxpayers when compared to other prominent Commonwealth countries. 

In Britain, the base salary for an MP is about $141,000 (CAD), and upon losing re-election, they receive a severance package only if they have served for more than two years. The median severance pay out for departing MPs in 2019 was about $8,500, according to a 2023 report from the British Parliament. 

A review of the base annual salaries for MPs in New Zealand, Scotland and Wales found they came in anywhere from 28 to 43 per cent lower than in Canada. 

Australia and Singapore were the only Commonwealth countries reviewed by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in its 2020-21 report with a higher base salary for MPs.

But the platinum perks for Canadian MPs don’t stop after they make their farewell speeches in the House of Commons. 

MPs receive free counselling services for themselves and their families for up to one year, including support for “financial, legal, professional, addiction, lifestyle, nutrition, (and) health and wellness matters.”

They also receive a “relocation benefit” if they moved to the National Capital Region during their time in office. 

And that’s in addition to the $15,000 transition support slush fund, which appears to be unique in the Commonwealth, as there is no similar fund in Britain, Australia, Scotland or Wales. 

MPs must spend the transition support funding within 12 months of leaving office, although that period was extended during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The money can be used for education, professional development, office supplies, long-distance phone calls or up to four roundtrips within Canada. 

Since 2019, at least 12 ex-MPs have tapped into the fund for education and professional development, expensing a total of $90,303 to taxpayers. 

And just because other departing MPs didn’t use it for education or training, doesn’t mean they didn’t tap into $15,000 available to them for the other purposes. 

The table below shows the 12 MPs who expensed education and training under to the transition support fund since 2019, including their party affiliation, the institutions they attended and the total cost to taxpayers. 





Dan Ruimy


CDI College


Celina Caesar-Chavannes

Liberal (later left caucus)

Northcentral University and The Chopra Centre


Amarjeet Sohi


SCIC e-Academic


Matt Decoursey


McGill Executive Institute


Denis Paradis 


University of Ottawa


Will Amos


Institute of Corporate Directors


Brad Trost


Harvard University


Bruce Stanton




Nelly Shin


École Québec Monde and University of Ottawa


Steven Blaney


George Brown College, Événements Les Affaires, Canadian Nuclear Association, and the Collège des Administrateurs de Sociétés


Murray Rankin


Rotman School of Management


Christine Moore


Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue


“Why are taxpayers paying for the education and training costs of highly compensated federal politicians who already receive a slew of platinum perks?” Terrazzano said. “MPs already receive large six-figure salaries and don’t need to take more money from taxpayers to try to land another job.” 


Highlights from the CTF analysis include Matt Decoursey, who served as an MP for Fredericton from 2015 to 2019. When he was defeated in the 2019 federal election, he walked away with $89,450 in severance. 

A review of Decoursey’s LinkedIn page shows he had little trouble landing on his feet following his time in federal politics. 

In January 2020, he was appointed as a senior advisor to the federal minister of finance. In November 2020, he was named a fellow at the Pearson Centre. And in December 2020, he landed a gig as a senior advisor to the President of the University of New Brunswick.  

But that didn’t stop Decoursey from expensing a combined $8,690 on courses from the McGill Executive Institute in January and July 2022.

Celina Caesar-Chavannes was elected as the MP for Whitby in 2015.

In March 2019, she resigned from the Liberal caucus and didn’t seek re-election later that year. She received $89,000 in severance. 

In May 2022, she sent taxpayers a bill for $3,989 from the Chopra Centre, a wellness retreat and training centre founded by the author Deepak Chopra. 

Brad Trost was the MP for Saskatoon-Humboldt from 2004 to 2015, and the MP for Saskatoon-University from 2015 to 2019. 

He walked away with both a severance and a pension, according to a past CTF analysis. He also expensed the full $15,000 available to him in transition support funding to Harvard University. 

Murray Rankin was the MP for Victoria from 2012 to 2019, and prior to entering public office, he worked as a lawyer, a law professor and as the managing partner of a law firm. He received a $34,000 annual pension. 

In July 2019, he expensed $15,000 to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

In October 2020, Rankin was elected to the B.C. legislature, and currently serves as the minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation. 

Dan Ruimy and Amarjeet Sohi, both former Liberal MPs, expensed taxpayers for a combined $15,483 in post-secondary education costs, shortly before being elected the mayors of Maple Ridge and Edmonton, respectively. 


The average hourly wage in Canada in 2022 was $31.96, according to data from Statistics Canada. Given a 40-hour work week and 52-week working year, that equals an average annual salary of $66,476.

The annual salary for MPs ($194,600) is 192 per cent higher than that. 

And the severance available to them – 50 per cent of their salary – is significantly better than what most Canadians are entitled to: two days regular wages for each year of service, per the Canada Labour Code. 

On April 1, MPs took their fourth pay raise since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Politicians’ perks need to be reined in and that includes eliminating the transition support slush fund,” Terrazzano said. 

You can find the CTF’s brief on the transition support here.

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