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MPI CEO's retirement package near $500K

Payout generous, consulting contract an insult: Tories

Former Manitoba Public Insurance CEO Marilyn McLaren is now a consultant for the corporation.

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Former Manitoba Public Insurance CEO Marilyn McLaren is now a consultant for the corporation. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES )

Bob Brennan

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Bob Brennan

Former Manitoba Public Insurance president and CEO Marilyn McLaren, who retired Feb. 21, will receive close to half a million dollars in compensation from the auto insurer in 2014.

That does not include a $50,000 consulting contract with MPI, which was approved by the Selinger cabinet several weeks after her departure.

The Free Press obtained the value of McLaren's compensation package in a freedom of information request after her consulting contract became an issue in the Manitoba legislature.

According to MPI, McLaren will receive $488,991.52 in salary, benefits and retirement allowance this year. That is the amount that will be published in a disclosure document that wouldn't normally be available to the public until June 2015, MPI said.

McLaren earned $299,684.50 in 2012, the last year in which MPI salaries are publicly available. The 2013 salary report will be published this summer.

According to the written response from MPI, obtained under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), the corporation pays departing members of its management committee a retirement allowance equal to two weeks' salary for each year worked. (All other MPI employees are entitled to one week of salary per year worked when they retire.)

McLaren had been employed by MPI for 35 years when she left the corporation earlier this year. At a pay rate of $300,000 per annum, McLaren would have been entitled to a retirement allowance alone of just over $400,000.

The Opposition Conservatives demanded to know the size of McLaren's retirement package last month after cabinet passed an order allowing her to work as a consultant with MPI -- overriding provincial conflict-of-interest rules forbidding former senior civil servants from obtaining government or Crown corporation contracts within a year of leaving their jobs.

Conservative house leader Kelvin Goertzen said Wednesday the issue isn't so much the size of McLaren's retirement payment -- which he called generous -- but the fact she was hired weeks after her retirement as a consultant. This was despite assurances from McLaren she was leaving behind a solid management team to carry on the corporation's work.

"I think it's really an insult for ratepayers of Manitoba Public Insurance...," Goertzen said of the contract, noting the Conservatives and the Public Utilities Board have raised concerns in the past about high MPI administration costs.

"It isn't about Marilyn McLaren; it's about whether this is symptomatic about what's happening within the Crown corporation," the Tory MLA said.

In defending McLaren's consulting gig last month, Andrew Swan, minister responsible for MPI, said it's "very common" for public and private corporations to hire a former CEO as a consultant after their retirement.

McLaren's advice will be important to MPI when it appears before the Public Utilities Board with its next Autopac rate application, Swan said. "(It's) very helpful to have somebody with Marilyn's experience to guide that process," he said.

Bob Brennan, the former president and CEO of Manitoba Hydro, received a retirement payment of $612,008.29 when he left after 47 years with the corporation in 2011, according to public documents. That same year, he also earned $229,509.58 in basic salary and $52,431.44 in other earnings and benefits for a total of $893,949.31.

Brennan announced his retirement in August 2011 but stayed on while a search was undertaken for his replacement. Scott Thomson succeeded him in early 2012.

A Hydro spokesman said Brennan has not been retained as a consultant with the corporation.

The Free Press requested full details of McLaren's severance package but was refused by MPI under sections of FIPPA governing personal privacy. However, MPI did provide McLaren's total compensation.

The $50,000 consulting contract was not included in the total because public-disclosure rules apply only to employees, according to MPI's privacy and information officer.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Do retirement payouts of this size cause MPI to pay a steep price in negative public perception? Join the conversation in the comments below.

 

Archive video: Marilyn McLaren Q & A at the News Café - February 14, 2014

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Updated on Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT:
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And we wonder why the province is in debt!

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