© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
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.