P.E.I. caucus grants soon open for public scrutiny

Jim Day
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Government House Leader Alan McIsaac says Legislature approval of posting caucus grant information is in line with the premier's call for open and transparent government.

Just one month after The Guardian shone a spotlight on the non-disclosure of taxpayer money spent by MLAs, transparency reigns.

The standing committee of legislative management has unanimously approved public disclosure of expenditures by members of the legislative assembly.

The first posting will be in April covering the period Jan. 1 through March 31, 2016. Expenditures will be posted online on a quarterly basis.

Last month, The Guardian highlighted that Island MLAs have expense funds not open to public scrutiny.

Currently, details of any spending by non-cabinet politicians are not available for the public to examine, nor are they accessible through access to information legislation.

That's because the Opposition and government private members' budgets are managed through the legislative assembly of P.E.I. and records from all three offices are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

A Guardian investigation revealed each office is provided with an operating grant and a separate salary account to allow each office to effectively carry out its duties.

The money comes from the budget of the legislative assembly of P.E.I.

This year, the government and Opposition offices were each given $120,400 in operating grants, not including salaries for administrative and research staff.

It is these operating grants that provide MLAs with reimbursements for a wide variety of expenses.

Government House Leader Alan McIsaac says the move to post caucus grant information was not influenced by The Guardian reporting.

Rather, he says the action is in line with Premier Wade MacLauchlan's call for more open government.

"The premier campaigned on openness and transparency and that is what really drove the initiative,'' said McIsaac.

"If disclosure is what the premier wants, disclosure is what we will give.''

McIsaac says while expenses claimed by MLAs have not been made public to date, the speaker's office and the clerk of the legislature has always inspected them.

"So they knew where the dollars were being spent,'' he says.

The standing committee of legislative management's announcement Thursday to move to posting caucus grant information follows the committee's direction in June 2015 to post online MLAs' individual expense reimbursements.

Geographic location: Government House

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Recent comments

  • fed up
    February 05, 2016 - 14:53

    Perhaps we should have a list of expenditures Wade and his group spend while travelling off Island - to India, no less - and just WHO is travelling with him??? It must be nice to take your family/associate/friends with you and travel the World.....at OUR expense!!

  • Oracle
    February 05, 2016 - 08:40

    This slush fund should be eliminated. The excuse for the last MLA pay raise was that they had to support charities etc. so they needed the raise. Well, they got the raise, so now cut out the other fund. If continued, at least put proper parameters around it. Exact guidelines for which purpose to use it. No more charity donations and 'rubber chicken' on the back of the taxpayers. Let me give to the charity of my choice, - I don't want to delegate that decision to the MLAs, thank you very much. Stay out of my pockets --

  • don
    February 05, 2016 - 06:31

    it is our money they are spending why not show us what they are spending it on? unless wade and the ole boys have something to hide??

  • merge the Maritimes
    February 04, 2016 - 18:52

    I'm an Islander and I'm sick of all this cr@p coming out about the corrupt PEI system of government (ie. ruling party & opposition party(ies) and government bureaucracy). I think it's time for PEI to give up being a separate province. We have too many MLAs. Based on our population, we should only have a dozen, if that. Nor we don't need a bureaucracy the size that we currently have. We also have far too tiny a tax base to support provincial level services. The time has come to begin serious discussions on merging with NB and NS.

    • Regular Joe
      Regular Joe
      February 05, 2016 - 08:00

      Nothing wrong with the tax base on this Island in fact it could be lowered and still provide full services if they would eliminate some of these double positions in Government .

  • JCB
    February 04, 2016 - 14:56

    An expense fund without having to submit receipts is ludicrous and why does it continue? Is it that difficult to be transparent?