British Columbians paid nearly $211,000 in travel expenses to two northern Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) during the last fiscal year.
According to records released by the province, New Democratic Party MLA Doug Donaldson (Stikine) was paid $85,655 for travel between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. In that same period, Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad (who also serves as Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation) racked up $125,297 in travel expenses – the most of any BC MLA.
These totals included travel by people accompanying the MLAs. Each year, MLAs are permitted to bill the province for up to 12 trips by “accompanying persons.” While MLAs usually reserve this perk for their spouses, it can be (and often is) utilized to cover the cost of transporting staff members to meetings and other functions.
In the year ended March 31, 2015, Donaldson was reimbursed for $8,021 worth of “accompanying person” expenses – the highest total among MLAs.
During the same period, Rustad billed the province for $6,237 worth of “accompanying person” expenses incurred in seven trips.
Donaldson also received a higher “capital city” accommodations allowance than Rustad. Donaldson was paid $20,870 to help defer the cost of living in Victoria for part of the year, while Rustad collected $16,174.
Rustad’s $85,850 in “general” travel costs were the most incurred by a BC MLA. Donaldson’s $41,457 in “general” travel costs were less than half Rustad’s, but still among the highest incurred by BC’s senior elected officials.
Both MLAs incurred $11,580 in “in-constituency” travel.
Neither Rustad nor Donaldson could be reached for comment by press time.
Between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, BC’s 85 MLAs incurred a total of $4,032,771 in travel expenses.