Rice claims more than $9,200 in expenses during July to top all NDP MLAs
When it came to expenses last month, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice had the highest bill of the 34 sitting New Democrats.
In July, Rice racked up $9,283.74 in expenses. That number is $3,988 more than the next highest expense claim, which came from George Heyman of Vancouver-Fairview. Included in the expenses were $4,387,59 in airfare and $3,302.65 in accommodation fees.
Rice said part of the reason for the high number was being new to Victoria and new on the job.
"Being newly-elected and not having pre-established accommodations in Victoria further added additional costs while the legislature was in session as I stayed in hotels versus having a more permanent residence where the accommodation costs would be lower," she explained.
“July was an exceptional month. Being called to the legislature so soon after the election did not allow me to find a more permanent living arrangement which would have been more affordable than staying in hotels. I don’t expect the accommodation costs to be as high as they were in July as I have recently found a less-costly living arrangement.”
Rice says the airfare covered travel between Prince Rupert, Vancouver and Victoria for legislature work and constituency work at Shearwater on Denny Island, and points to the high cost as part of being a rural MLA.
“The MLAs who live the farthest from the legislature in Victoria tend to have the highest expenses because of the increased cost of travel,” she said.
Skeena MLA Robin Austin’s expenses totaled $3,559.24 and Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson accounted for expenses totaling $4,740.21
Although the reports show Rice had the highest expenses of the opposition, she said she stands behind the party’s commitment to release these details.
“I support our decision to post detailed members’ expense reports, and hope the Legislative Assembly will also support more detailed routine disclosure of travel expenses for all MLAs and cabinet ministers,” she said.