Months-long delay in informing public on MLA expense account hike - Metro US

Months-long delay in informing public on MLA expense account hike

Expense money to provincial politicians was hiked eight months ago but the public record has only been updated in the last two weeks.

Jocelyn Scallion, the executive director of the province’s speakers office, told Metro yesterday expenses are tied to the consumer price index, which meant they got an across the board increase of three per cent at the beginning of the year.

For example, MLAs can now expense $4,076 with receipts every month, up $122 from last year — that’s in addition to $1,050 to spend monthly without showing receipts.

But while the annual price jump is automatic, the system for informing the public is not.

The Internal Economy Board, made up of a group of MLAs, is in charge of member expenses. The board’s website couldn’t be updated until they met to formally approve the hike that had already taken place, which didn’t happen until the end of July.

Other expenses include members being paid $84 without need for receipts every day that the legislature is sitting. Politicians from outside the Halifax Regional Municipality are also handed $1,470 per month for a place to stay in the city.

The biggest pot of money comes if a member is defeated in an election – $45,000 that doesn’t require any receipts, plus another $12,000 that does require receipts — to clear up their offices.

Speaker of the House Charlie Parker told Metro Halifax last month the non-receipted money is often used by members to help needy people who wouldn’t want their names made public.

“As a member a lot of requests come both from charities and from individuals,” he said. “I know personally I get a lot of people who are down and out, just don’t have enough money to make ends meet, and they absolutely need oil or they need food.”

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