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Corrigan has lowest travel expenses of Burnaby MLAs—or does she?

Burnaby-Deer Lake NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan -
Burnaby-Deer Lake NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan
— image credit:

When it comes to MLA travel expenses, there appear to be no differences among party lines.

For the period between April 1 and Sept. 30, BC Liberal MLA Richard Lee (Burnaby-North) reported $17,711 in travel costs, Liberal colleague Harry Bloy (Burnaby-Lougheed) spent $17,740 and New Democrat MLA Raj Chouhan of Burnaby-Edmonds reported such expenses of $17,974.

His NDP colleague Kathy Corrigan (Burnaby-Deer Lake), meanwhile, reported travel expenses of only $11,097.

The biggest difference was her figure for "general travel" which is for travel costs—including transportation and accommodation and a per diem for food and incidentals—within B.C. but outside the MLAs' constituencies.

Corrigan's general travel figures for that period were $2,065 plus $180 in per diem costs. That's compared to $8,774 for Lee, $7,573 plus $500 per diem for Bloy and $8,963 plus $80 per diem for Chouhan.

"There can be a whole bunch of reasons [for the figures]," Corrigan said, citing as examples where MLAs live and their critic roles.

While she couldn't speculate on her colleagues' numbers, she said her low figures are likely because she has spent more time working on committees that meet in Victoria or Vancouver.

She serves as the Opposition critic for public safety and corrections, and for a time during the six-month period of the expense summaries, also as critic for women's issues. She also serves as the NDP's caucus vice-chair, and on committees including ones looking at public accounts and the appointment of an auditor general.

"Certainly my travel, the lion's share by far would be me going over to Victoria and back."

She noted that the MLA travel expense summaries don't include expenses resulting from committee work. Those would be reported in the budgets for the committees "so my travel for those committees would not be included and yet it represents a significant amount of work."

Corrigan and Chouhan did not have any expenses for "accompanying person travel," under which a person can accompany an MLA for up to 12 trips per fiscal year.

Bloy spent $545 for one such trip while Lee reported such costs at $1,341 for two trips.

All the MLAs received a "capital city allowance" to cover accommodations while in Victoria, and per diems of $61 per day while in that city on Legislative Assembly business.

Chouhan, Corrigan and Lee each claimed $6,000 in capital city allowance, while Bloy's was $6,195. Lee did not claim the per diem, but Corrigan ($1,257), Bloy ($1,332) and Chouhan ($1,336) did.

All four Burnaby MLAs also received the $1,595 allowance for travel and out-of-pocket expenses within their ridings, a set amount dependent on which of the five classifications the riding is located. Urban ridings, such as those in Burnaby, receive the lowest allowance with coastal/remote constituencies receiving the highest.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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