$532,568:Taxpayer watchdog calculates pension benefit of retired senator’s young wife

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Here's a true but maybe crude fact: Our 'beloved' senators will continue to cost taxpayers money even long after they're gone.

On Tuesday, we learned that 70 year old Liberal Senator Rod Zimmer is retiring from the upper chamber, effective immediately, because of health reasons.

Not surprisingly, most stories about his retirement included significant commentary about Zimmer's wife, Maygan Sensenberger, an attractive young woman who is 46 years his junior.

[ Related: Rod Zimmer, Liberal senator with young bride Maygan Sensenberger, resigns for health reasons ]

Well, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation — as they are a wont to do — calculated Zimmer's pension for the public to see.

This time they went a little further, however. They calculated Sensenberger's benefits.

Appointed by Paul Martin in 2005, Zimmer will collect an annual, indexed to inflation pension of $31,601. The law that regulates Senator and MP pensions provides that in the event of their death, their surviving spouse will continue to receive 60 per cent of their pension. Sensenberger and Zimmer were only married for a quarter of his Senate term, entitling her to 15 per cent of his total pension.

Assuming Zimmer lives until age 90 - the average life expectancy of pension plan members - Sensenberger will begin to collect a pension in 2033, at 44 years old. Indexed to inflation, she would collect $532,568, assuming she also lives to age 90.

A 2012 CTF report notes that, in 2010, there were 156 'survivors' of ex-senators or MPs currently earning pensions out of a total of 663 former MPs, senators, survivors or dependents collecting a pension.

"Of the pensions currently being paid out, former Senators collect an average of $56,512 annually while former MPs collect $53,586 annually," noted the taxpayer watchdog's report.

"Twenty former Senators and 97 former MPs collect in excess of $70,000 annually."

[ Related: With Wallin audit complete, Senator Mac Harb could be in more hot water ]

And just as a FYI: maligned Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin just have to hang in there until January 2015 for them — or their spouses (if applicable) — to be eligible for their pensions.

It's nice work if you can get it.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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