Canada Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance

01:22  13 august  2017
01:22  13 august  2017 Source:   Edmonton Journal

Finance critic Derek Fildebrandt rents downtown digs on Airbnb while claiming housing allowance

  Finance critic Derek Fildebrandt rents downtown digs on Airbnb while claiming housing allowance On Thursday morning, Fildebrandt issued a statement offering to donate his Airbnb earnings of $2,555 to help pay down provincial debt. The statement reads:When I want a ride in a city, I use Uber. When I want to communicate with constituents, I use Facebook and Twitter. When I have an empty house, I use AirBnB. I confirmed that letting out my Edmonton home while it is not being used is compliant with the rules. Everything has been open, public, and transparent.

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt came under fire this week when the Journal revealed he claimed a taxpayer-funded housing allowance from government while renting out his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb.

“Twenty-six residents were processed through the city’s emergency support response team and given accommodation last night,” Filipovic explained. Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance | Edmonton Journal.

081017-no_object-notley-W.jpg: <br />Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the media during a stop at a pipeline stockpile site for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project, near Hardisty Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Notley said no NDP caucus members have rented out their government-funded temporary residences. DAVID BLOOM / POSTMEDIA © David Bloom
Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the media during a stop at a pipeline stockpile site for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project, near Hardisty Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. Notley said no NDP caucus members have rented out their government-funded temporary residences. DAVID BLOOM / POSTMEDIA

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt came under fire this week when the Journal revealed he claimed a taxpayer-funded housing allowance from government while renting out his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb.

Last year, 45 of 87 Alberta MLAs claimed that same housing allowance, which helps them pay costs associated with hotels or a temporary residence in Edmonton while they’re in the city on official business.

Derek Fildebrandt takes leave as United Conservative party finance critic

  Derek Fildebrandt takes leave as United Conservative party finance critic A United Conservative Party MLA is taking a leave of absence from his role as finance critic in the wake of a controversy over renting out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb for months. “Since January, I believed that renting out my Edmonton home while I was away was above-board and never cost the taxpayer anything extra,” Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt wrote in a brief statement late Thursday, before leaving the province on vacation.“I, however, recognize the perception that this is not good enough, and have spoken with my constituents, and they are never wrong. I apologize.

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MLAs whose permanent home is 60 kilometres or more from the legislature building quality for the allowance, as do representatives who live closer and have worked more than 12 hours on a given day. MLAs qualify for $193 a day when the legislature is sitting, or they’re in town for other duties, or $1,930 a month for those who own or rent a temporary residence in Edmonton.

The maximum they can claim is $23,160 a year and, in the 2016-17 year, 31 MLAs claimed the full amount, according to MLA expense disclosures posted online.

Fildebrandt was one of the MLAs who claimed the full amount. Although he said he broke no rules by pocketing $2,555 from Airbnb customers who stayed in his downtown Edmonton apartment, he said he has since given the earnings to government.

Alberta MLA Fildebrandt accused of double-dipping meal expenses

  Alberta MLA Fildebrandt accused of double-dipping meal expenses Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark wants embattled UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt to explain nine instances where he appeared to expense restaurant meals on days he also claimed a daily meal allowance. Alberta MLAs are permitted to claim meal expenses at "per diem" rates when they travel to locations 60 kilometres or more from their permanent residences. But they can't also claim the same meals under other expense provisions.The expenses originally flagged by a Reddit user and picked up by Clark are from May, June and October 2015; February, August, and November 2016; and January, February and April 2017.

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On Thursday, Premier Rachel Notley said no one from the NDP caucus has sublet their government-funded temporary residences. Caucus staff checked with all NDP MLAs this week, said a spokeswoman.

Fildebrandt has claimed some of his United Conservative Party colleagues also rent out their residences.

On Friday, party spokeswoman Samantha Johnson said in an email no other UCP MLAs have or are currently renting out their residences on Airbnb. By press time, she had not clarified whether any MLAs sublet residences using another method.

“We are carefully reviewing current practices related to housing allowances,” Johnson wrote in an email. “We will discuss this topic further at the appropriate avenue, the Special Standing Committee on Members’ Services.”

Robert Wanner, Speaker of the legislative assembly and MLA for Medicine Hat, has a centrally located, two-bedroom apartment in Edmonton, his chief of staff Alex McCuaig said Friday.

Although McCuaig wouldn’t estimate how much of the year Wanner spends in Edmonton, he said his duties extend beyond regular sessions and include meetings with international guests and diplomats. Wanner claimed the maximum accommodation allowance last year.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier had the lowest allowance claim last year. Carlier, who lives in Alberta Beach, makes the hour-long drive home every night, his press secretary Renato Gandia said.

The $1,407 he claimed last year were for hotels when legislative debate dragged into the wee hours, Gandia said.

Many MLAs were unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.

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