The provincial government took a massive leap forward in accountability and transparency when it announced all official expenses would be made public online, said a taxpayers’ watchdog on Friday.
But there is still one glaring part of the puzzle that will be kept out of the public view – MLAs’ expenses, said Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Scott Hennig.
“I’m very happy about the level of disclosure of the hospitality and travel expenses, or at least I think I will be when they are published in December. And to be fair, that’s a short turn around time for government” he said.
“However, since MLA offices are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, we can’t get any expenses right now from any MLA … we still can’t see any of the other expenses they may incur.
“Ideally they would provide this information on-line as well, but barring that, at the very least we need to amend the FOIP Act so that we can start to file FOI requests for the information.”
Hennig cites recent cases in B.C. and Nova Scotia, where officials expensed items they later found hard to justify.
“In Nova Scotia, MLAs expensed things like espresso machines, gas-powered generators … and even the Xbox video game – Dance, Dance Revolution,” he said.
“These are not hospitality or travel expenses and as such, the new rules wouldn’t catch these expenses.”
Premier Alison Redford earlier this week announced that all hospitaltiy and travel expenses would be posted on line and open to public scrutiny in the wake of Alberta’s very own expensing scandal, which saw health officials Allaudin Merali and Sheila Weatherill lose their jobs.