The P.E.I. government should get with the times when it comes to going public with MLA expenses, says the official Opposition and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
"This is the smallest amount of information possible, and still being able to call it disclosure at all," said Canadian Taxpayers Federation president Kevin Lacey.
Online disclosures don't provide enough information for taxpayers to be able to tell whether their money is being spent properly, argue Lacey and Opposition leader Steven Myers.
When Deputy Premier George Webster was being grilled this spring about a $40 hotel room movie, the opposition asked if there were any other personal expenses Webster had charged to taxpayers.
"Madam Speaker, everything we do as ministers and as government is put online," said Webster in his response during question period on April 11.
"The honourable member can check it online."
But Webster's online expenses don't show the $40 movie: no P.E.I. government expense disclosures reveal that level of detail. The hotel receipt only came out because of a Freedom of Information request by the Opposition.
Lacey said not only are the records incomplete, limiting expense records to government ministers is also a problem. Other jurisdictions, such as Nova Scotia, cover all MLAs. In Alberta, receipts are scanned and posted online.
"The reason this is so important is that if politicians know that their expenses are going to be made public, it will prevent the kinds of expenses we've seen in the past that have been over and above what taxpayers expect," said Lacey.
Myers said how elected representatives spend government money should be freely accessible to the public. Opposition members expenses are also not currently available, but Myers said his caucus has discussed publishing those independently.
"We're under the same situation right? Where it is public money," he said.
"We need to be accountable for it."
In an email statement a spokesperson for the P.E.I. government said it is following disclosure rules put in place by the previous government in 2005. While the province does look at best practices across the country, there are currently no plans for any changes.
For mobile device users: Should there be more information available about the expenses of government ministers and MLAs?