MPs have heard the message and are trimming some of the fat from their own expenses, to do their part to cut the $26-billion federal deficit.
It’s a trend that’s caught on with all MPs across party lines, says local representative Randy Kamp, who’s slashed his own spending by more than a quarter.
Last year, the MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission spent an overall amount of $494,000, for office salaries and expenses, travel and advertising.
That compares to $360,969 for the fiscal year ending this March 31.
The figures come from Members Expenditures Reports, recently released on the House of Commons website.
“My total is quite a bit lower than last year. Everybody is doing things a little bit differently.”
MPs now use flight passes, books of tickets which can be bought in advance, instead of buying tickets individually.
“I think I’ve probably flown a bit less than I did in other years, maybe stayed in Ottawa a few more weekends instead of coming back every weekend. We tried to spend less on printing than we did in other years, sending out fewer mailings.”
Kamp said he’s compared his expenses with other New Democratic MPs in the area and says his numbers look good.
“I think I’m in pretty good shape compared to them.
“In my case, it was down considerably from last year.”
With the government trying to reduce its $26-billion deficit, MPs felt they should do the same.
According to the Members Expenditure Reports, which covers the fiscal year which ends March 31, Kamp’s total expenses rang in at $360,969. That’s about $133,000 less than the year before.
MPs have agreed to try to pare their spending are part of an attempt to reduce the overall House of Commons budget.
“I think that’s good news for taxpayers.
“We kind of made the effort to do it. It’s good news for taxpayers.”
Kamp spent $19,445 in travel, with another $13,835 spent on his wife’s travel, with both amounts totalling $33,280. Kamp’s wife Ruth occasionally accompanies him to Ottawa.
On the other side of the Pitt River however, NDP MP Fin Donnelly’s (New Westminster-Coquitlam) overall expenses are ringing in almost 25 per cent higher than Kamp’s.
Donnelly, who is fishery critic for the West Coast, had a total expense bill of $446,553, compared to Kamp’s total expenses of $360,969.
Donnelly spent almost three times what Kamp spent on travel, $91,798. The amount includes that for a designated traveller, someone who can accompany an MP.
(In Burnaby-New Westminster, NDP MP Peter Julian, shadow critic for Energy and Natural Resources, spent $120,633 on travel.)
Kamp’s total office expenses rang in at $293,741, which added to the $67,227 covered by the House of Commons budget, produced a total expense of $360,969.
Kamp said we’d welcome closer scrutiny of politicians’ spending, such as itemizing individual expense amounts. “Federally, if they decide to do that, I’m OK with that.”
Both MPs spent similar amounts on hospitality and events, with Kamp spending $5,122 and Donnelly spending $7,866.
Donnelly says though that his spending is about average for an MP. “If you compare to other B.C. MPs, I think I come out in the middle of the pack, so I’m not spending the highest and I’m not spending the lowest.
“I think it’s important that we scrutinize members’ expenses. You want to see them doing a good job and not spending excessively.”
While Donnelly spent more on advertising ($19,730) than Kamp ($2,661), Donnelly says his advertising is about average for an MP, adding that most of that is spent on local newspapers.
“I feel confident I’m doing a good job getting the word out.”
As an MP, Kamp makes $160,200 a year, plus another $16,000 as parliamentary secretary.
But Donnelly questioned about the amout of expenses Kamp would incur as parliamentary secretary to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea. Those would be reported separately under the Fisheries budget.
But a spokesman for Kamp’s office said those expenditures would be a small percentage of an MP’s expenses.
“We’re certainly going to become more transparent with our expenses as the years goes on. I expect the provincial MLAs to follow that as well,” Kamp said.
Members Expenditures Reports: http://www.parl.gc.ca/PublicDisclosure/MemberExpenditures.aspx