B.C. MLAs work on financial disclosure

Constituency assistants crowded into the idle B.C. legislative chamber Wednesday to learn new financial reporting requirements for MLAs.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents the government's post-election budget to the legislature in July.

VICTORIA – MLAs’ constituency assistants from across B.C. crowded into the idle B.C. legislative chamber Wednesday to get up to speed on new financial reporting requirements for their office expenses.

Provincial politicians have been working to open up their expense reporting since a 2012 report by former Auditor General John Doyle exposed “pervasive deficiencies” in that and other areas of the legislature’s $70 million operating budget.

The first steps after that report were to begin disclosing MLA expense totals on a quarterly basis, and to begin holding meetings of the long-secret Legislative Assembly Management Committee in public.

That committee met Tuesday and agreed to extend the deadline to begin detailed expense disclosure from constituency offices from Jan. 1 to April 1. In addition to base pay of more than $101,000 a year and an expense account for travel and accommodation, MLAs receive a constituency allowance of $119,000 a year, mainly for staff and office space.

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan told the committee he is “absolutely in favour” of disclosing detailed information, but more time is needed, especially with 32 new MLAs elected in May. That means new constituency staff learning accounting procedures on the job, while also learning to handle day-to-day concerns of constituents, many of whom are “in distress,” he said.

The committee supported Horgan’s motion to make the first detailed report public April 1, covering the period from Jan. 1 to the end of the provincial fiscal year.

MLAs are also preparing to begin detailed disclosure of their personal travel and other expenses.

Expense payments to MLAs include a “capital city allowance,” for which most MLAs who live outside Greater Victoria claim $1,000 a month without receipts. With receipts, out-of-town MLAs can claim up to $19,000 a year for rent, mortgage or hotel accommodation while in Victoria on legislature business.

MLAs are also eligible for $61 a day for meals while in Victoria on legislature business.

During discussion of the legislature’s total budget, clerk Craig James told the committee there would be substantial savings this year because the scheduled fall session was cancelled. The cost for extra staff and services for one sitting day is about $30,000.

Just Posted

Classy cruiser continues to pay it forward

Bike up for sale to fund Sno’uyutth Legacy scholarships

Dance club marks 35 years with Sunday evening shindig

People Meeting People host dinner and dance Feb. 25 at Monterey Recreation

Significant heritage house on Beach Drive to be restored

Heritage Revitalization Agreement approved as part of subdivision proposal

Experts to capture and collar 20 female deer in Oak Bay starting this month

Does sedated, examined, collared and ear tagged in latest phase of deer management plan

BC BUDGET: Fare freeze and free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

BC Cattlemen’s Association calls for remediation of firebreaks to prevent erosion, spread of invasive species

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

B.C. runner takes silver at Pan American cross-country championships

Tyler Dozzi’s medal pushes U20 Team Canada to gold finish

Duncan cousins found guilty of aggravated sexual assault

Assault so violent, victim required surgery

Wanted by Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers for the week of Feb. 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Victoria airport to spend $19.4m on terminal expansion

Record passenger growth means YYJ needs to grow

Victoria hosts North America’s first Window Wanderland event

James Bay will transform into a live art installation of decorated windows Feb. 24-25

Most Read