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Former Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter stepped down from his role as leader of the provincial NDP party on November 16, 2013.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Government documents show the NDP cabinet of former premier Darrell Dexter bumped up severance by a total of $250,000 for departing political staff after October's election.

The documents obtained from a government source say the total severance payout for the 14 staff members was about $850,000.

During question period Wednesday, Premier Stephen McNeil said the former government hid behind cabinet secrecy to make the payments to those who were on contract.

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He was responding to opposition attacks over his appointment of a defeated Liberal candidate as the province's chief protocol officer on a year-to-year contract with an annual salary of $85,000.

Acting NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says the intention of the change was to fix an oversight in the staff members original contracts to reflect their years of service before working in the Premier's Office.

The documents say cabinet made the decision Oct. 15 and gave members of the premier's staff additional severance equal to one month's pay for every year of their previous service at the party's caucus office on top of what they earned while working in government.

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