MPs spend $60M in first half of 2016 – that’s $10M more than last year

MPs together spent $60 million in the first half of 2016-17, beating last year's spending during the same period by $10 million.
MPs together spent $60 million in the first half of 2016-17, beating last year's spending during the same period by $10 million. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada’s MPs worked together to spend $60.38 million in the first half of the fiscal year – exceeding their spending during the same time period last year by more than $10 million.

This cost tally is a mere piece in the puzzle of what the 338 MPs cost Canadians; while the tallies include the salaries for MPs’ employees, it does not include MPs’ salaries, nor the top-ups some receive for sitting in cabinet, being a party leader, chairing a committee or being prime minister.

READ MORE: MPs spend thousands to fly family across Canada, figures show

And while the figures do include costs of travel and running a constituency office, they do not take into account the costs of running the Prime Minister’s Office or a cabinet minister’s office.

There were big jumps year-over-year in employees’ salaries, travel for MPs as well as their employees, subsidizing secondary residences, leasing and insuring constituency offices and furnishing those offices.

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At least part of the growth can be attributed to the increase in the number of MPs sitting in the House of Commons to 338 from 308 and the fact there was an election campaign beginning Aug, 4, 2015, when many staff in constituency and Parliament Hill offices normally take leave.

If the spending was spread equally among all MPs (which it is not) last year’s total of $50.23 million works out to $163,084 per MP. The total per MP this year works out to $178,639 — an increase of $16,555 per MP.

READ MORE: Senate Expense Scandal: MPs face less scrutiny over improper spending

The new figures were released online in a report from the Board of Internal Economy, a committee of MPs responsible for setting and enforcing spending rules for MPs.

Justin Trudeau’s spending went down year-over-year – to $130,114 from $137,760. Bear in mind, though, his travel isn’t included in the calculations now that he’s prime minister, nor is the bulk of travel, accommodation and per diems for his employees.

READ MORE: When it comes to MPs and new ridings, some Canadians still more equal than others

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose is the only current party leader whose expenses went up year-over-year. In the first half of the 2015-16 fiscal year, she spent $154,410. Her office spending increased to $257,850 over the same time period this year – and that’s without charging anything for her secondary residence now that she lives in an official residence that taxpayers support.

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Ambrose has expensed considerably higher amounts for her employees’ salaries, travel and per diems for her, and for travel and associated costs for her designated traveller and that of her employees.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, meanwhile, had to begin charging for a secondary residence but still charged less this year ($165,807) compared to last year ($187,068). Now that he’s no longer Opposition leader, expenses for travel and associated activities have gone down, and he’s cut some spending in his constituency offices.

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