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

West Shore skatepark moves closer to fruition

Company estimates project will cost $600,000

Well-versed in national competition, trio heads to B.C. Summer Games

The three will be representing Zone 6 in boys field lacrosse

Canada men’s sevens team hoping for a top eight finish

Captain Harry Jones hopes to inspire rugby youth

Saanich seals history with time capsule

Saanich will re-open time capsule in 2067

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan imposes ‘project labour agreements’ for public works

Trump, Putin sit down a bit late for closely watched summit

Trump and Putin arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit.

In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Asked the queen’s view on Brexit, Trump said: “She said it’s a very complex problem.”

Exotic corpse flower begins to emit its putrid scent at Vancouver conservatory

A unique and exotic tropical plant, acclaimed for its size and abhorred for its smell, is blooming at a Vancouver conservatory.

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June were down 10.7 per cent compared with a year ago.

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

Proposed charges will cost Saanich housing affordability

The head of the association representing home builders in the Greater Victoria… Continue reading

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Most Read