MPs spend thousands to fly family across Canada, figures show
WATCH: Some Members of Parliament, many of whom were quick to lash out at senators during the expense scandal, are themselves facing scrutiny. Global News has discovered how much taxpayers are spending so MPs’ family members can travel with them. Laura Stone has the details.
OTTAWA – MPs spent almost $1.5 million to fly their spouses and family members on the taxpayer dime last fiscal year – leading some to question whether policies need to change.
A House of Commons policy allows MPs to fly one “designated traveller” to Ottawa and on special trips to Washington and New York City.
For trips of more than two hours, MPs are allowed to book business class for the family member.
According to public figures, the highest spender in 2013-14 was Conservative MP John Duncan, whose wife flew to Vancouver Island and on special trips 26 times.
The total cost to taxpayers? More than $60,000.
But Duncan says designated travellers can now get cheaper flight passes.
“Those numbers will definitely come down,” he said.
Conservative MP Leon Benoit spent more than $6,100 on one trip flying a family member from Alberta to Ottawa, even though fellow Alberta MP Joan Crockatt spent an average of $659 per trip.
When asked about his flight, Benoit said, “That’s not true actually, I use very few designated traveller points. Check it out.”
NDP MP Alex Atamanenko, and Conservatives Nina Grewal and Alice Wong spent more than $5,000 on average per flight to fly dependents to and from British Columbia. For her part, Wong says her traveller has a medical disability.
But they could have spent much less: Conservative MP Ron Cannan managed to fly his family member for an average of $1500 a trip.
Senior cabinet ministers have also rung up some expensive tabs.
Defence Minister Jason Kenney flew his mom from Calgary to Ottawa – for $6,000.
Kenney acknowledges it was a pricey flight, and he now pays out of his own pocket.
“When Minister Kenney learned of the cost of the ticket in question, he removed this family member from the Designated Traveller Registry, and now pays for such family travel costs personally,” his spokeswoman said.
Aaron Wudrick, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, says at the very least, the House of Commons should weed out business class.
“I think it’s reasonable to ask spouses if the taxpayer is going to pick up the tab, that they at least fly economy,” he said.
So far this fiscal year, MP traveller flights cost almost $1 million – with another spending quarter expected to be posted soon, and summer holidays on the horizon.
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