British Columbia

B.C. MLAs' expense accounts a mess says auditor general

B.C.'s auditor general has given a failing grade to the provincial legislature's management of its own $63-million-a-year budget.

MLAs get expenses paid without having to submit receipts

B.C.'s auditor general has given a failing grade to the provincial legislature’s management of its $63-million-a-year budget.

John Doyle says his audit of the past three fiscal years found the Speaker’s office, which controls the legislative assembly budget, does not produce financial statements, does not demand receipts for MLAs’ expense accounts and does not properly reconcile its bank balances.

Doyle did not mince words in his description of the legislature’s books.

The B.C. legislature has not got its own financial house in order, and hasn't had for years, says the auditor general. (Samuel Bufalini/CBC)

"The numbers did not make sense and were not supported by the evidence. So this isn't some esoteric discussion about accounting rules. This is basic bread and butter. Not good."

Doyle said most of the problems could have been avoided if the Speaker's office had implemented the recommendations the auditor general made about accounting five years ago.

NDP MLA John Horgan said he and his fellow politicians should be chastened by Doyle's report.

"I think this is an embarrassment for all members of the legislature. This isn't a partisan issue. This is an issue of our ability to manage our affairs. And I think the public, when they look at this, are going to shake their heads in disappointment, and that's a slight for all of us," Horgan said.

The scathing review comes a day after Doyle also panned Finance Minister Kevin Falcon's release of the latest public accounts, saying the government understated the deficit by $520 million.

Falcon disagreed with the assessment, saying B.C. has followed accounting practices used across North America and is on track to balancing its budget by 2013-2014.

Doyle has recommended the legislature take immediate steps to address the deficiencies he believes his office has identified.

With files from The Canadian Press