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Ontario Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine's limo expenses questioned

11/04/2014 07:34 EST | Updated 01/04/2015 05:59 EST
Ontario Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine is under fire for billing taxpayers for thousands of dollars in limousine rides.

A former Liberal MP, Augustine's job is to ensure that foreign-trained professionals such as doctors and teachers are able to get licensed to work in Ontario.

Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton wants to know why Augustine billed taxpayers for a city sightseeing tour in Tampere, Finland and expensed $3.40 for a pair of headphones on a flight to Halifax.

"It's an abuse of tax dollars," he said. "I think taxpayers deserve better than this."

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Chan says the expenses were not legitimate and Augustine refunded the money to taxpayers.

"When people submit claims that are outside the directive we provide oversight of 'You know what? That's not right. We want that money back.'"

A spokesman told CBC News the ministry is currently reviewing the expenses. 

In question period Tuesday, Chan also pointed out that the Fairness Commissioner operates as an arm's length agency from the government and is not subject to the same oversight as other government agencies.

In an interview from Ottawa, Augustine said the limousine expenses were necessary for her to travel to do her job.

And she criticizes the Conservatives for trying to tarnish her reputation unfairly.

Augustine does not receive a salary for her job. Instead she collects a daily per diem rate of $566.

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