Local MLA expenses top $185K

Greater Victoria’s six MLAs incurred more than $185,000 in travel expenses last year.

Greater Victoria’s six MLAs incurred more than $185,000 in travel expenses last year.

The figures, as part of the public accounts portion of the province’s finances, were released last week as the B.C. government works towards an air of openness.

In years past, only ministers’ expenses were released, but British Columbians can now see just how much of taxpayers’ money every MLA spent.

In Victoria, Carole James (Victoria-Beacon Hill) racked up the largest MLA bill with $39,869 in travel costs. The former NDP leader said she spent three-quarters of her time as leader travelling the province prior to her stepping down in December, and welcomed this new measure of financial openness.

“It’s definitely the right direction. MLAs are accountable for those dollars, they are public dollars and we should be accountable to the voters in our community,” she said.

Oak Bay-Gordon Head’s Ida Chong had a meagre $1,635 travel bill as an MLA, but racked up an additional $61,057 on ministerial duties.

She says it’s because following a cabinet shuffle, the new minister is expected to meet with the same stakeholders and interest groups their predecessor met with months before.

“When I took on universities and colleges, there was a huge demand for me to visit them all and get up to speed on the initiatives they started with (former minister of advanced education) Moira (Stilwell),” she said.

“If you’re supposed to understand and bring in legislation and policy, sometimes you have to go out and see how things work.”

Chong served as minister of healthy living and sport; science and universities; and regional economic and skills development during the year. Now she is the minister of community, sport and cultural development.

James says that is a prime example of extraneous, unnecessary spending.

“With the number of cabinet shuffles we’ve seen over this past year with Gordon Campbell and with Christy Clark, every time you change cabinet you have different travel costs, you have new business cards, and those are taxpayers’ dollars,” James said.

Of all ministers, Chong had the third-largest travel bill, after Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell ($68,467) and Kevin Krueger ($65,562).

Gregory Thomas, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said the transparency of public accounts is a good thing, but he said that more detailed summaries may be needed.

“It’s progress, but they’re years behind the rest of the country,” he said, adding that many other jurisdictions provide scans of receipts or a breakdown of each expense. “It’s not rocket science. Providing one expenditure line for the whole year just doesn’t cut it in 2011.”

The MLAs all said they’re cognizant of spending taxpayers’ money.

Searchable provincial government expenses, data and statistics can be found at data.gov.bc.ca.

MLA running around money

Greater Victoria MLA travel expenses for 2010-11.

-Ida Chong (Liberal) Oak Bay-Gordon Head: $62,962 (as MLA and cabinet minister).

-Carole James (NDP) Victoria-Beacon Hill: $39,869.

-Lana Popham (NDP) Saanich South: $28,825.

-Rob Fleming (NDP) Victoria-Swan Lake: $26,683.

-John Horgan (NDP) Juan de Fuca: $15,745.

-Maurine Karagianis (NDP) Esquimalt-Royal Roads: $12,044.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

Active police incident in Langford prompts police to request nearby residents stay inside

West Shore RCMP ask public to avoid Station Avenue and Peatt Road area

New sidewalk, bike lane coming to Metchosin Road near Royal Bay

Gablecraft Homes making improvements, moving offices

City of Victoria to hold formal safety review after man was left hanging from raised bridge

More and more people seen ignoring safety measurements in place, city staff say

The Trading Post in Langford is up for sale

For sale sign and retirement sign spotted Tuesday

CRD holding off repairing Sooke Potholes viewing area after winter landslide

Area likely to experience continued failure of slope, officials say

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

POLL: Do you use a food delivery app?

With modern life becoming more hectic with each passing day and so… Continue reading

Vancouver Island teacher suspended for professional misconduct

Grade 8 shop teacher admits to use of vulgar language and profanities toward students, parents

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Most Read