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MPs’ spending up $2.8-million, reaching $103.6-million so far for 2018-19

By Laura Ryckewaert      

The third-quarter expenditure reports for 2018-19 for Members of Parliament and the various House Officers were released on March 21.

Conservative MP Todd Doherty was the highest-spending MP over the first three quarters of 2018-19, based on numbers released in a March 21 report. He was followed by Conservative MP David Yurdiga and Liberal MP Bob Nault, respectively. CCF MP Erin Weir is the lowest-spending MP so far in 2018-19, excluding those supported by other offices or who were not in office during the full period, which covers April to December 2018. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade and file photo
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The latest third-quarter expenditure reports for MPs for 2018-19 show spending is on the rise once again, reaching almost $103.6-million, an increase of roughly $2.8-million, or 2.8 per cent, from the same period last year.

The third quarter members’ expenditures reports for 2018-19 were released on March 21, covering all expenses claimed between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. A grand total of $103,556,527 was expensed, of which $90,280,373 was paid through MPs’ office budgets and $13,276,154 was covered by the House of Commons’ central budget. By comparison, in the first three quarters of 2017-18, MPs spent a total of $100,728,073; that was an increase of roughly $5-million, or roughly 5.3 per cent, over the same period in 2016-17.

Spending reported so far for 2018-19 includes almost $60-million for staff salaries, $2.1-million on service contracts, $18.3-million on travel, roughly $1.1-million on hospitality, $63,894 on gifts, $4.5-million on advertising, $2.6-million for printing, and almost $14.8-million for office expenses, which includes everything from constituency office leases to equipment rentals to training to furniture.

Compared to the same period in 2017-18, that works out to a $2.1-million increase in salary costs, $315,649 more in service contracts, $998,841 more in travel, $475,456 more for advertising, and $370,084 more in office expenses. But, on the flip side, there was an almost $1.3-million decrease in spending on printing, a $2,307 decrease in hospitality spending, and a $173,590 decrease in spending on gifts (capped under House rules at a maximum of $150 per gift).

Conservative MP Todd Doherty (Cariboo-Prince George, B.C.) was the highest spender so far in the first three quarters of 2018-19, reaching $466,722 in expenses as of December 2018. That includes $226,575 for employee salaries, $138,649 for travel, $42,942 for service contracts, $26,340 for office costs (including constituency office lease, insurance, and utilities, among other things), $23,613 for advertising, $3,171.15 for hospitality, and $5,430 for printing.

The central British Columbia riding is the 17th largest geographically in Canada, with 108,907 residents, according to the 2016 census. In 2017-18, Mr. Doherty was the third highest-spender, at $560,405; in the first three quarters of that fiscal year, he had spent $402,570.

The top 10 highest-spending Members of Parliament in the first three quarters of 2018-19.

Behind Mr. Doherty in spending is Conservative MP David Yurdiga (Fort McMurray-Cold Lake, Alta.), who expensed a total of $417,162 between April and December 2018. That includes $184,809 for staff salaries, $109,105 for travel, $78,096 for office expenses, $16,312 for service contracts, $11,301 for printing, $6,540 for advertising, and $4,974 for gifts and hospitality.

Mr. Yurdiga’s northern Alberta riding is the 13th largest in the country, with 110,230 residents as of 2016. In 2017-18, he was the fourth-highest spender, at $559,606; in the first three quarters of that fiscal year, he had spent $396,050.

The third quarter’s third-highest spender was Liberal MP Bob Nault, who represents Canada’s eighth largest riding, Kenora, Ont. He spent a total of $414,607 so far in 2018-19. That includes $216,128 on staff salaries, $120,011 on travel, $54,632 on office expenses, $11,183 on advertising, $6,462 on printing, $5,574 on gifts and hospitality, and $614 on service contracts.

Mr. Nault’s northern Ontario riding has 62,556 residents, as of the 2016 census. In 2017-18, Mr. Nault ranked as the No.1 highest spender, at $606,651; in the first three quarters of that fiscal year, he had spent $426,306.

Mr. Nault said he represents 42 First Nations communities, including 22 in remote, fly-in areas only, and has to charter a plane to visit the communties.

“I order to visit my constituents and leaders in various First Nation communities, I need to fly in by charter where is no road access,” said Mr. Nault in an email. “Charter flights are expensive—simple as that, and the cost of doing business in rural and remote ridings to ensure that constituents are properly represented dramatically increases the costs of travel. Democracy is expensive, but well worth it.”

Rounding out the top 10 highest spenders for the first three quarters of 2018-19 are: Conservative MP Bob Zimmer (Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, B.C.), with $412,454 in spending; Bloc Québécois MP Marlène Gill (Manicouagan, Que.), with $399,417; NDP MP Christine Moore (Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Que.), with $398,824; Liberal MP Gudie Hutchings (Long Range Mountains, N.L.), with $396,744; Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette (Winnipeg Centre, Man.), with $386,127; NDP MP Niki Ashton (Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, Man.), with $383,855; and NDP MP Rachel Blaney (North Island-Powell River, B.C.), with $383,373.

On the other end of the spectrum—excluding Members of Parliament who exited or were elected in byelections between April and December 2018—Liberal MP and House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan (Halifax West, N.S.) was once again the lowest spender in the first three quarters of 2018-19, at $186,276. No doubt helping to curb Mr. Regan’s expenses is the fact that he also has a separate Speaker’s Office and staff—that office reported a total of $588,529 in expenditures over the same period. In a similar vein, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is also the Liberal MP for Papineau, Que., was the second-lowest spender at $201,992 for the first three quarters of 2018-19.

The 10 lowest-spending Members of Parliament between April and December 2018.

CCF MP Erin Weir (Regina-Lewvan, Sask.) was the lowest spender of those without another office supporting them, reporting a total of $217,422 in expenditures between April and December 2018. That includes $117,588 on staff salaries, $14,421 on service contracts, $30,606 for travel, $26,316 on advertising, $20,875 on office expenses, $5,368 on printing, and $2,246 on hospitality.

Following Mr. Weir is Liberal MP Stéphane Lauzon (Argentueil-La Petite-Nation, Que.), who reported a total of $220,653 in expenses, including $152,302 for staff salaries, $29,750 for office expenses, $15,944 for advertising, $6,888 for printing, $6,687 for travel, $5,571 for hospitality and gifts, and just $300 on service contracts.

After Mr. Lauzon on the lowest-spender list is Conservative MP Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ont.) at $223,959. That includes $158,365 for staff salaries, $33,429 for service contracts, $29,279 for office expenses $2,884 for printing, and zero expense claims for advertising, hospitality and gifts, or travel.

Mr. Reid, who’s been an MP since 2000 and is currently also vice-chair of the board of Giant Tiger, which is owned by his family, told The Hill Times he doesn’t expect all four categories will still reflect zero expenses after the fourth and final quarter spending report is released later this year, but confirmed he typically pays out of his own pocket for local travel within his riding, as well as for some hospitality costs.

“Sometimes when you submit your bills to the House services it designates when it will be paid, when it will be recorded as opposed to when you actually spent the money, so it could be kind of an accident there that caused that,” Mr. Reid told The Hill Times. “I don’t think they’ll be zero at the end of the year.”

The rest of the top 10 lowest-spenders list for the first three quarters of 2018-19 includes: Liberal MP Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), with $229,583 in spending; Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin (Rivière-du-Nord, Que.), with $232,457; Liberal MP Bob Saroya (Markham-Unionville, Ont.), with $234,341; Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.), with $235,779; and now-former Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio, with $239,224. Mr. Di Iorio resigned his seat as the MP for Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, Que., on Jan 29.

Over the same period, the House of Commons’ various House Officers—from the Speaker, deputy Speaker, and assistant deputy Speakers to the various caucus House Leaders, Whips, and party leaders (excluding the Prime Minister’s Office)—spent a total of $13,078,404. The vast majority of this—$10,961,260—was spent on employee salaries.

This year marks the first for the release of quarterly expense disclosure reports for these offices, after the first-ever annual report was released in June 2018 reflecting a grand total of $18.3-million for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The Conservative Official Opposition Leader’s Office under Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) was the highest-spending one of the bunch over the first three quarters of 2018-19, with almost $3.4-million expensed so far, out of a total budget of roughly $4.5-million for the year.

The lowest-spending office so far in 2018-19 is assistant deputy Speaker Carol Hughes’ office, at just $9,478, almost all of which—or $9,106—was for staff salaries. Ms. Hughes is one of two assistant deputy Speakers—the other being Liberal MP Anthony Rota (Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont.)—and is the NDP MP for Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Ont.

The Hill Times

Comparing MP third quarter spending: 

The following is a comparison of total Member of Parliament spending, broken down by category, for the first three quarters of the 2015-16 fiscal year up to 2018-19.

Spending Category Q3 2015-16 Q3 2016-17 Q3 2017-18 Q3 2018-19
Salaries $41,357,561 $54,884,810 $57,888,480 $59,990,829
Service Contracts $1,425,206 $1,934,694 $1,845,312 $2,160,961
Travel & Accommodations $10,461,073 $17,736,262 $17,301,135 $18,299,977
Hospitality & Gifts $452,963 $969,275 $1,336,653 $1,160,754
Advertising $2,062,624 $3,345,199 $4,062,137 $4,537,593
Printing $2,995,181 $3,338,253 $3,886,867 $2,628,839
Offices $10,364,914 $13,489,717 $14,407,487 $14,777,572
Total $69,119,526 $95,698,212 $100,728,073 $103,556,527

House Officers’ Expenditures, April to December 2018:

Speaker of the House of Commons (Geoff Regan): $588,529

Deputy Speaker (Bruce Stanton): $49,075

Assistant Deputy Speaker (Carol Hughes): $9,478

Assistant Deputy Speaker (Anthony Rota): $14,329

Government House Leader (Bardish Chagger): $49,654

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $104,400

Chief Government Whip (Pablo Rodriguez up to Aug. 30, 2018 and Mark Holland after): $603,115

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $1,504,190

Government Caucus Chair (Francis Scarpaleggia): $74,614

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $139,000

Liberal Research Bureau: $2,021,307

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $3,052,430

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition (Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer): $3,368,823

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $4,544,380

Stornoway (Official Residence of the Official Opposition Leader): $118,427
Conservative House Leader (Candice Bergen): $347,770

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $522,230

Conservative Whip (Mark Strahl): $443,457

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $1,082,570

Conservative Caucus Chair (David Sweet): $88,567

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $103,120

Conservative Research Bureau: $1,886,316

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $2,847,270

NDP Leader’s Office (under then-parliamentary leader Guy Caron): $1,783,357

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $2,113,660

NDP House Leader (then-Ruth Ellen Brosseau): $186,464

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $332,590

NDP Whip (then-Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet): $242,242

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $727,660

NDP Caucus Chair (Matthew Dubé): $44,831

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $79,910

NDP Research Bureau: $1,158,038

  • Total allocated budget for 2018-19: $1,737,570

Laura Ryckewaert

Laura Ryckewaert is a deputy editor at The Hill Times.
- lryckewaert@hilltimes.com

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