Senators to be banned from taking pricey flights

The Canadian Senate plans to announce next week major changes to its travel policy that will put an end to senators taking pricey flights, CBC News has learned.

Bulk air tickets, cheaper flights to be mandated in new rules to be announced next week

Some Canadian senators continue to fly at high prices but new rules will soon restrict their flight choices. (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

The Canadian Senate plans to announce next week major changes to its travel policy that will put an end to senators taking pricey flights, CBC News has learned.

Hours after CBC published information about high spending senators taking expensive flights, a Senate media spokeswoman contacted a reporter to say changes will be in place by June.

Currently, even though the upper chamber has been besieged with ongoing expense scandals, there are no rules preventing senators from buying the priciest airline flights possible at taxpayers' expense.

Starting at the end of the Senate session in June, senators will no longer be able to fly business class on short-haul flights between Ottawa and home base.

The change will be in line with rules for members of Parliament, including cabinet ministers, which disallow flying business class on flights of less than two hours. 

The new rules will also require all Senators to meet with finance officials once a year to ensure they're booking the most cost-effective forms of travel. That could include enforcing the use of flight passes  — tickets purchased in bulk at a discount.

"These are just changes in line with modernizing some of the Senate policies and making them more efficient and cost-effective," Senate spokeswoman Nancy Durning told CBC News. 

She added that the reforms have been in the works for a while and that there might be more to come. 

"The auditor general might make recommendations in his report to make more changes to [the Senate travel policy]" she said. 

The AG will soon release a report following a massive audit of all aspects of Senate spending, including travel. 

MPs fly cheaper

MPs can only fly business class on long-haul flights between home base and Ottawa if they buy flight passes.

The rule came into effect on April 1, 2013, and it was forecast the policy change would save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Although the Senators' travel policy will now be more in line with MPs' rules, they will still get to keep one extra perk for their spouses. Only senators can claim the expense of meals and incidentals such as bottled water, snacks, and dry cleaning for their partners when travelling.

Spokeswoman, Durning, says that perk will remain. 


Sophia Harris

Business reporter

Based in Toronto, Sophia Harris covers consumer and business for CBC News web, radio and TV. She previously worked as a CBC videojournalist in the Maritimes where she won an Atlantic Journalism Award for her work. Contact:


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