New rules for political staffers’ moving expenses to be in place by summer 2017
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story stated that the review of moving expenses regulations being conducted by the Treasury Board Secretariat as requested by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not be complete until at least 2018. In fact, the Treasury Board Secretariat has clarified that the changes requested by Trudeau are expected earlier, in the summer of 2017. Global News regrets the error.
Changes to the government’s policy for covering moving expenses for ministers and their political staffers are expected to be in place by the summer of 2017, Global News has learned.
A review of the current policy, last updated under the Harper government in 2011, was ordered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau four months ago after two of his top aides charged taxpayers over $200,000 for moving expenses.
Gerald Butts and Katie Telford eventually issued a joint statement promising to return nearly $65,000 of that money, noting that even though they had followed the rules, some of the expenses were “unreasonable.”
“This is a priority for the Government, and work is underway,” a spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) told Global News in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a separate, broader review of the rules governing all relocation within government is also set to get underway.
“A cyclical review of the (current regulations) is also expected to get underway in the spring of 2017,” said the TBS. “The implementation of a revised directive following this review would not be expected before 2018.”
It’s unlikely there will be any major movement of top political staffers until at least 2019, when the next federal election is scheduled to take place.
WATCH: Conservatives call out Liberals over moving expenses
The scandal surrounding Butts’s and Telford’s expenses dogged the government for over a week last fall. It was also revealed that other departments had big bills. Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains’s office, for example, spent more than $150,000 to move two staffers to Ottawa.
Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose blasted the prime minister in Question Period, asking how his office could justify the reimbursements when so many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet.
Trudeau stood behind his staff, and argued that his office is significantly smaller than Stephen Harper’s PMO.
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