BC’s Finance minister is coming the Premier’s defence over her taxpayer funded half-million dollar travel bill for chartered flights.
Mike DeJong says there’s a reason that bill is so high.
“She does have a security detail, she does take an assistant with her. Generally, a press secretary to deal with the media, so there is a group of people that by necessity travels with the premier. Depending on where she is going, there can or can not be a flight, and sometimes the schedule changes very quickly.”
However de Jong admits the information should be more readily available, since taxpayers are paying for it.
To that end, DeJong says soon cabinet ministers and the premier will have to post their itemized expenses online for all to see.
“We’ve made some significant advances from the days when the standard answer was wait until the public accounts. It’s now aggregated and made available on a quarterly basis for MLAs in very much detail. The receipts are there. And that’s what we’re seeking to achieve for members of the executive branch including the Premier as well.”
That’s music to the ears of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
B.C. Director Jordan Bateman gives credit to the Finance minister’s work to make government expenses more transparent.
“He has pushed for expense transparency a lot harder than most MLAs have over the past 15 years. Finally, we think this is probably the last piece of the puzzle as far as knowing what tax payer money is getting spent on travel. So kudos to him and to cabinet for finally getting on board.”
However Bateman says there’s work to do when it comes with collecting all of that information in one place where it’s easy for the public to access.
“Right now you go to one website run by the legislature to see MLA expenses. Then you go to another website to see kind of a lump sum cabinet spending. My advice would be just to have one website with all of that on, and add in the cabinet minister expenses to what’s being posted for MLAs, lets make it simpler for people trying to keep an eye on this.”
He adds the Premier’s charter flight costs are overboard and more needs to be done to reduce them.