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BC MLA expense receipts to be published on website this fall

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Ever wonder what politicians have for the dinners they claim as expenses, or the method of travel they use when going to and from Victoria? Soon, you’ll be able to look it up on a government website. This after an all-party committee voted Tuesday to open the books on MLA public spending.

All the receipts MLAs submit as expenses will be posted on a public provincial government website. That’s expected to happen this fall, as early as September 1st.

BC Finance Minister Mike De Jong calls it a major step forward, and says something had to be done to regain your trust following recent questionable and unreasonable spending in federal and provincial politics.

“This is something I have argued for for a number of years now. Once this information and this documentation is available, most of the issues will disappear. Politicians will be very much aware of the fact the public has access to this information. That may cause elected people every now and then to question themselves about appropriateness of an expenditure because they’ll have to defend it,” says De Jong.

As for why itemized expenses haven’t previously been released, De Jong blames what he calls culture. “The way things change and the way things have been done frequently take more time than it should… It is now time for politicians to begin to rebuild the trust that should exist with respect to the manner in which public dollars are being handled.”

Numbers on spending for MLAs are already publicly disclosed, but De Jong says going forward, expenses will be in-depth to an itemized list. The new information will be added to the current website. In the coming months, the government will be looking over how several other jurisdictions have begun to release similar information.

De Jong says no privacy laws are being violated, and anyone accepting public money should expect to be held accountable by taxpayers.