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

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

City of Langford mails out information on sewer connection requirement

Plan lays out obligations, exemptions and financial assistance information for the costly hookup

Update: BC Transit driver taken to hospital with serious injuries after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

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

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read