MPs and other officers of Parliament are giving themselves a $25-million office budget increase that will kick in as of April 1, 2016, CBC News has learned.
The 20 per cent increase to MPs' office budgets means each MP will be able to spend an additional $57,690 on top of the current budget of $288,450.
Multiply that by the 338 MPs that make up the House of Commons, and MPs' budgets alone jump by nearly $20 million to a new total of almost $117 million a year.
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Others are getting a boost to their office budgets as well. The Speaker of the House of Commons, House officers such as the deputy speakers and the offices of the party leaders, whips and caucus chairs are also in line for the increase.
- The Speaker will get an additional $193,029 for a new office budget total of $1,158,117.
- The Opposition leader's office gets an additional $725,581 for a new total of $4,353,487.
- The NDP will get an additional $337,487 for a new total of $2,024,870.
MPs who have to travel to conduct parliamentary business are able to charge travel expenses and that budget is getting an increase as well.
The travel budget maximum jumps five per cent from a maximum of $28,600 per MP to a new total of $30,000 per MP.
The decision on the budget increases was made in a Dec.10 meeting of the secretive Board of Internal Economy, the governing body for the House of Commons that also controls the spending for Parliament.
Budgets frozen since 2010-11
The board consists of the Speaker, Geoff Regan, who acts as chair, two members of the Privy Council, the leader of the Opposition and additional MPs in numbers that reflect the overall composition of the House of Commons.
These office budgets can be spent at the discretion of the MPs, or officers of Parliament, providing they follow the rules that govern what is a permitted expense.
Typically these budgets are used to hire staff, conduct research and pay for language training, translation services and the general running of the relevant offices.
All of these budgets have been frozen since 2010-11. A government official speaking on background told CBC News that the coming increase puts the office budgets about where they would have been had they never been frozen.
The official says the increase was made to allow MPs to better serve their constituents.