November 7, 2018 9:52 pm
Updated: November 9, 2018 12:18 am

BC NDP MLA Mable Elmore to pay back expenses claimed while on homelessness challenge

MLA Mable Elmore has returned her per diems from when she was doing a welfare challenge.

Richard Zussman/Global News

BC NDP MLA Mable Elmore is paying back a little more than $200 in per diems she collected while taking part in a welfare challenge. The challenge was for Elmore to live on $19 for food during the week but she still claimed $61 in food expenses to the taxpayer.

“In the spirit of the welfare challenge, I have decided to pay back the per diems for that week. I am proud to have taken the welfare challenge,” said Elmore.

The B.C. Liberals raised the issue in question period on Wednesday.

READ MORE: BC Liberals call for Victoria-area MLAs to lose their $61-a-day per diem for meals

Elmore says she did the challenge while the legislature was sitting. Her staff prepared the expense reports that were submitted and Elmore reviewed them.

“They are submitted by a matter of course,” said Elmore. “I didn’t catch it.”

Elmore did not break any legislative rules in collecting per diems while working in Victoria. All MLAs are entitled to $61 per day while the legislature is in session.

WATCH HERE: Controversy continues over Victoria-area MLAs per diem for meals

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The three-term MLA also serves as the government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Education. Elmore says she purchased her food in Vancouver, prepared it there and then brought it with her to Victoria.

“The only reason she is returning is that she got caught. We all review over our expenses and sign off. This is not something you miss when you did a statement in the house,” said Liberal MLA Michelle Stilwell.

“It’s inexcusable, unacceptable and quite disappointing.”

READ MORE: B.C. Liberals accuse NDP MLA of misusing publicly funded office

Stilwell raised a separate issue in question period on Wednesday, asking Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark about why she claimed $500 in dry-cleaning bills over the last 11 months while the rules clearly state dry cleaning is covered by per diems.

Mark did not provide a response and is expected to answer the question on Thursday after reviewing the concerns.

“What we are seeing here is the government that has been in power for 16 months and they don’t know the rules. They don’t know the rules on FOI (Freedom of Information). They don’t the rules on expenses,” said Stilwell.

“How long will we accept the excuse that ‘we are trying to be better?’ This was unacceptable. This is taxpayer money.”

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