Travel expenses add up for Vernon-Monashee MLA

The public’s business means racking up kilometres on the odometer and hours in airports.

The public’s business means racking up kilometres on the odometer and hours in airports.

B.C.’s Legislature has released travel expenses for all MLAs from April 1 to Sept. 30. This includes $31,243 for Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster and $9,549 for Shuswap MLA George Abbott.

“When the Legislature is sitting, flights are cheaper because you can book in advance,” said Foster.

“It becomes expensive when the Legislature isn’t in session and there are short trips back and forth to Victoria.”

Of the $31,243 for Foster, there was a capital city allowance ($8,400 for accommodations and a $2,166 per diem), in-constituency travel ($2,376), general travel ($10,803 for travel and a $567 per diem) and accompanying person travel (one trip at $2,494). There was also speaker-approved travel at $4,437.

While in the constituency, Foster says he travels around meeting with residents and organizations.

“It pays for all of the driving to Cherryville and around the constituency, including Silver Star,” he said.

For Abbott, who could not be reached for comment, there was a capital city allowance of $1,000 for accommodation. There was also in-constituency travel ($3,563), general travel ($2,913 for travel and a $111 per diem) and accompanying person travel (three trips for $1,962).

Foster says travel is necessary for elected officials because of the geographic size of B.C.

“Look at the guys coming from Fort St. John,” he said.

“Look at the cheap ones and they are the ones with constituencies in Victoria.”

The MLA travel expense summary can be found at www.leg.bc.ca/mla/remuneration/travel_expenses.htm