For the first time ever, certain expenses for non-cabinet ministers are now available for the public to view.
But this new batch of disclosures does not reveal all spending from these non-cabinet offices.
That’s why Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker has posted a detailed breakdown of all expenditures by his office, including cell phone bills, banking fees and even postage stamps.
He says he believes P.E.I. taxpayers have a right to know how all money granted to his office is spent.
His office received a $20,000 office grant plus an additional $65,000 for salaries.
“The bottom line is, it’s not our money, it’s taxpayers’ money,” Bevan-Baker said.
“We felt that Island taxpayers deserve to know what we were spending their money on in order to support our activities and that we were spending the money in, hopefully, what they would consider to be effective and efficient ways.”
Meanwhile, reimbursements paid to MLAs from the Opposition, the government backbench and the third party for mileage and travel related to their legislative work and their Internet allowance has also been released.
Until recently, only cabinet ministers’ expenses have been available for public viewing or accessible through freedom of information legislation.
No formal changes have been made to the rules governing MLA expenses, but the standing committee on legislative management recently decided to voluntarily publish some of the non-cabinet members’ financial information.
Figures from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2015 have now been posted online.
This includes mileage to and from the legislature during house sittings as well as five trips to and from Charlottetown per month outside of legislature sessions.
It also includes mileage for attending standing committee meetings as well as an allowance of just under $50 a month for the MLAs’ home Internet services.
It includes also any approved trips related to business of the legislature.
Government backbench and Opposition MLAs do incur other expenses, but these are not included in the information now available on the legislative assembly website.
A separate lump sum grant is given to each of the three caucus offices to cover other expenses, including office supplies and other costs.
This year, the Opposition was granted $124,400 for office expenses and the government backbenchers’ office was granted $120,400, not including salaries.
Opposition Leader Jamie Fox says he plans to release a fuller accounting of all his office’s expenses in the new year.
“I’m taking this accountability thing very seriously,” Fox said.
“I’ve got no problem with releasing figures on what we’re spending, so my plan is to have everything, starting in the new year, to come online so anybody who wants to see where the money is going can do so.”