BC Liberals introduce bill to stop tax dollars paying for local MLA meals

VICTORIA (May 9, 2018) – While the BC NDP have made clear they are not concerned about rising property taxes or gas prices for hard-working British Columbians, senior cabinet ministers are making sure life is a little more affordable for themselves.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar will introduce a Private Member’s Bill today that, if approved by the Legislature, will stop all MLAs in the Capital Regional District from claiming meals for coming to work.

“British Columbians have to bring or buy their own lunch when they go to work every day and it should be the same for MLAs who work close to home,” says Milobar. “It is outrageous that well-paid cabinet ministers who live in Victoria are charging taxpayers for their lunches and other meals when they work just down the street from where they live.”

Milobar is responding to publicly-disclosed expenses showing Finance Minister Carole James, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, Education Minister Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake and Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca have been charging taxpayers for their daily lunch allowance— a total of almost $4,800 since September.

“There are hundreds of staff who work in the Legislature and thousands who work for government and they are not getting a free lunch or breakfast,” says Milobar. “It doesn’t make sense that politicians who live in Greater Victoria are allowed to bill taxpayers for their meals. It’s time to end this practice.”

As the current rules stand, MLAs who are exempt from the Capital City Living Allowance are technically able to claim per diem allowances for meals and vehicle mileage while they are in Victoria when the Legislature is sitting. Further investigation into expenses revealed that fellow Victoria-area NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has not claimed this allowance, which shows it is possible to go work without charging taxpayers for lunch. The other BC NDP MLA in the region, Esquimalt’s Mitzi Dean, only charged the per diem for a short time.

“While the NDP are telling British Columbians they need to pay more in taxes, their senior cabinet ministers are making sure their lunch costs are being covered by public funds,” says Milobar. “It’s time for MLAs who live close to the Legislature to bring a lunch or pay for it themselves like most people do. This bill will ensure taxpayers don’t pay for meals for MLAs who aren’t required to travel from their homes every week while the Legislature is in session.”

The rule change, if approved by the Legislature, would apply to all MLAs in the Capital Regional District.

-30-