As a result of previous positive feedback on what were my first and second accountability reports, I have made the commitment to submit annually to the citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla a summary of fiscal expenditures over the past year.
As in previous reports I will follow the format using information from the most recent fiscal period of April 1st of 2013 up to March 31st of 2014 in accordance with the Board of Internal Economy reporting periods. While some of this information is publicly available, it can be difficult to find and often exists at several different locations online or not at all. As stated previously, I believe it is important for citizens to have an annual summary on the activities of elected officials in public office including the related costs.
Office expenses and travel are typically the most scrutinized areas of spending for elected officials at any level of government. For Members of Parliament from British Columbia, our travel expenses are higher than those of MP’s from other areas in Canada as a result of the fact that we fly the farthest distances between B.C. and Ottawa. My personal travel expense during this time frame was just over $49,000; this is down slightly from $55,000 that was spent in last year’s fiscal period. In my case this works out to roughly 420 hours in an airplane and I would estimate over 95 per cent was regular coach class– I didn’t fly first class before being elected as an MP and I continue to make every effort to fly economy class where possible as an MP.
Total spending for my two offices here in Okanagan-Coquihalla and one in Ottawa including all staff, leases, advertising and the above mentioned travel was just over $355,746. This is also a decrease from the $394,289 that was spent in last year’s fiscal period. This amount is within the top three lowest expenses for a BC based MP. As a comparison closer to home, NDP MP Alex Atamanenko from B.C. Southern Interior has posted spending of $444,152 as a comparison.
Sponsored travel falls into a different category as Members of Parliament are invited from time to time to travel to other destinations both within and outside of Canada for a variety of different reasons. These invitations often include airfare and accommodations being paid for by the host and not taxpayers. When Members of Parliament accept these special trips they are required to disclose and report such travel to The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. I can confirm that while I did receive invitations of this nature I did not accept any complimentary trips or travel during the last fiscal period nor have I accepted any since being elected.
One other change I made during this past year is with my email. All MPs are given two email addresses, one that is public and the other that is private. This past year I had my private MP email account deleted. I now only have one MP email account firstname.lastname@example.org -this way when you send an email my way it is my one and only email account and you can be reassured I will be receiving and reading your email.
The information included in this week’s report is intended to provide a brief summary of some of the more commonly scrutinized expenses. If there is other information that you are interested in, please do not hesitate to contact me with your request. I can be reached via email at email@example.com or at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and writes this weekly report for his constituents.