Pensions for former governors general cost more than $18 million

Author: Franco Terrazzano 2021/06/23

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to rein in the governor general pension plan before a new appointment is made. 

“These platinum-platted pensions would be unthinkable for most Canadians,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the CTF. “Trudeau needs to rein in these perks and the best time to do that is before a new governor general is picked.”

The CTF estimates that the five living former governors general will receive more than $18 million if they continue to collect their pensions to age 90. The estimates are based on the annual governor general pension amounts published in the public accounts since 2000-01, and assume the 2019-20 pension payment of $149,484 for future years.

Former governors general are eligible for the full pension regardless of how long they serve in the role. Even though Julie Payette only served for a little more than three years, she will still receive an estimated $4.8 million if she continues to collect the governor general pension to age 90.

The vast majority of Canadians working outside of government are not covered by a workplace pension plan. 

On June 10, it was reported that Trudeau would receive a shortlist of governor general candidates within the “next few days.” The CTF is calling on Trudeau to rein in these pension costs before selecting a new governor general.

In addition to the annual pension, former governors general can expense taxpayers for $206,040 per year for the rest of their lives and up to six months after their death. The governor general’s annual salary is $302,114, according to the 2019-20 public accounts of Canada.

“Clearly perks need to be reined in when a governor general can resign in disgrace after only serving for a few years and still pocket millions of dollars through the pension,” said Terrazzano. “Families and businesses have been tightening our belts and we expect the government to start making its perks more fair for taxpayers.”

Governor General Pension Payments

Governor General

Pension to age 90

Edward Schreyer (2000 to age 90)

$3.4 million 


Adrienne Clarkson

$3.2 million

Michaëlle Jean

$5.4 million

David Johnston

$1.9 million

Julie Payette

$4.8 million


$18.7 million 


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Franco Terrazzano
Federal Director at
Canadian Taxpayers

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