Edmonton

Alberta legislature ditching old paper-based expense claim system

Alberta’s legislative assembly is moving to electronic system for MLAs to submit their expense claims, so discrepancies can be identified much sooner than under the old paper system

MLA claims in the spotlight following revelations of Derek Fildebrandt expenses

MLA Derek Fildebrandt and his expenses have been in the spotlight over the last week. (CBC)

Alberta's legislative assembly is moving to an electronic system for MLAs to submit their expense claims, so discrepancies can be identified much sooner than under the old paper system.

Alex McCuaig, chief of staff to Speaker Bob Wanner, said development of the new system has been underway for the last two years.

"The timetable for its rollout hasn't been completed yet but the process is underway," McCuaig said.

Details of how the new electronic system will work are not yet finalized.

The issue of MLA expenses has been in the spotlight over the last week after it was revealed MLA Derek Fildebrandt sublet his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb while claiming accommodation allowances.

Fildebrandt said he would repay the government the $2,555 he earned from the sublets.

Following revelations that he was charged in a 2016 hit and run, the embattled MLA resigned from the UCP caucus on Tuesday, acknowledging he has made mistakes and that those mistakes have become a distraction for the party.

Earlier this week, Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark questioned nine expense claims submitted by Fildebrandt or his staff on the same day the MLA claimed a meal allowance.

Some of the claims went back to 2015. Fildebrandt was elected as the MLA for Strathmore-Brooks in May of that year.

Fildebrandt, who is vacationing out of the province, issued a statement citing administrative errors and acknowledged he should have been more careful in reviewing them. He said that he would pay back any discrepancies.

But Calgary-Elbow MLA and Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark dismissed Fildebrandt's explanation. "It defies belief that this is just administrative oversight," he said.

Clark thinks the current expense system works fine and isn't onerous to use.

He said staff from the legislative assembly are available to help MLAs with their expenses and make sure they are following the rules.