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

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop, closes section of Fraser Highway

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Winners to come to Semiahmoo Shopping Centre

Former Zellers to also include a gym and daycare

UPDATE: Missing 17-year-old girl found

Mikayla Logan was last seen in Guildford on Tuesday, May 14

Surrey to begin ‘public engagement process’ on policing transition next week

First in a series of public events set for May 23 at Cloverdale rec centre

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly threatening another youth with a knife in Cloverdale

This was Thursday at a park in the 17200-block of 61A Avenue, Sergeant Chad Greig told the Now-Leader

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

UPDATE: Multi-vehicle crash on Highway 1 east of Chilliwack

First responders on scene with multiple patients from four vehicles involved in westbound lanes

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read