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Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Aug. 23, 2019.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office would not address calls to revamp the severance system for political staff, after The Globe and Mail revealed more than $450,000 in enhanced termination payments for two top staffers under the previous Liberal government.

Mr. Ford’s spokeswoman issued a statement on Wednesday that did not answer whether severance should be capped or if the Progressive Conservative government will institute a more formal and transparent process.

“The previous Liberal government’s record speaks for itself,” spokeswoman Ivana Yelich said. “We have nothing further to add.”

The Globe asked all parties at Queen’s Park whether severance for top staffers should be limited in scope and if they would bring in a more formalized process for issuing severance packages. Outgoing political staffers are entitled to 16 weeks’ notice after an election, but their compensation can be increased at the discretion of the government and there appears to be no formal process in place.

On Tuesday, The Globe reported that the former Liberal cabinet approved more than $450,000 in total additional severance for top aides Andrew Bevan and Mary Rowe days after the party lost the June, 2018, election. Both former premier Kathleen Wynne and Mr. Bevan say the agreements were decided on the advice of the bureaucracy, and are consistent with other governments and jurisdictions.

Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the PC government should ensure it’s not left up to outgoing governments to decide on appropriate severance packages.

“I certainly hope [Mr. Ford’s government] reconsiders and this is something that they deal with in the coming year,” Mr. Wudrick said.

“They could argue before that they didn’t know. Now they know, so I think it’s a good opportunity for them to act.”

Wynne aides received enhanced severance packages days after Liberals lost election

The Ontario NDP also criticized the former government for the enhanced packages, but it, too, did not promise to change the system.

“If Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals took care of the people of Ontario the way they took care of themselves and their insiders, maybe they wouldn’t have been such a disappointment,” NDP MPP Taras Natyshak said.

"This looks like a special deal for some Liberal insiders, and that raises questions.”

But three of four Liberals running for the leadership of the party − including two who were in cabinet when the Liberals were defeated in the June, 2018, election − said they would bring in a more robust system.

“Political staff at all levels work very hard and have virtually no job security. Providing severance for those who take on these roles, which is consistent with past practices, makes sense,” former transportation minister Steven Del Duca said.

"If elected leader and ultimately premier, I will ensure that clear, transparent guidelines are established so that severance entitlements are made clear in employment contracts.”

Toronto MPP Michael Coteau, who is also running for leader, said, "Severance compensation for future outgoing political staff should be reviewed and then standardized, rather than relying on ad hoc decisions based on past practices by previous premiers.”

Leadership candidate Alvin Tedjo, a former political aide, said the severance packages made him “angry,” and also pledged a more formal process. Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter, also a leadership candidate, declined to comment.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said political staff deserve fair severance packages, but it should not be left up to the government of the day to decide.

“Let’s fix the system now with a fair and consistent formula for determining severance packages that isn’t open to manipulation or misuse,” he said.

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