Philpott repays taxpayers $381 for Nexus pass, suitcase following spending review
Tories say minister should also pay back money she used to hire luxury car service owned by Liberal supporter
Health Minister Jane Philpott plans to repay an additional $381 to taxpayers following the completion of an office spending review sparked by a car controversy.
The latest repayment includes $178 for a Nexus pass, purchased for speedier passage at the border, and $202 for a secure suitcase purchased in error that did not comply with RCMP standards for ministers, Philpott's office said Friday.
"In addition to applying the test that all public office holders need to apply, which is following government directives with regard to travel and hospitality, we applied an additional test there, which is what is fair and reasonable," said David Clements, Philpott's director of communications.
"That is a process we have just concluded."
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In August, Philpott returned just over $3,700 after it was disclosed her office paid thousands to a Toronto-based limousine company.
The use of the car service is now under investigation by the ethics commissioner, because the company is owned by Liberal supporter who canvassed for the minister during the last election.
"She's really looking forward to being able to speak to the ethics commissioner and to move through that process," Clements said.
The minister does not plan to reimburse taxpayers for 29 trips with the same car service company from Toronto Pearson International Airport totalling $5,360.44 from November 2015 to July 2016.
This decision follows a review by Health Canada, which deemed the cost to be fair market value compared with other town car companies.
Pay luxury car money back, say Tories
The minister should still pay this money back, said Conservative health critic Colin Carrie, adding the department is responsible to the minister.
"It was a complete lack of judgment in the first place," he said. "The issue is, this is a supporter of hers, a partisan supporter who benefited. She should pay it back."
The fact the minister is now using taxis is proof she realizes it wasn't proper, Carrie added.
Philpott's office said the average cost of the car service from the airport was $203.74 and to the airport was $167.20 for 60-kilometre trips between Stouffville, Ont. and to the airport.
These fees include surcharges for the use of the highway, airport fees or delay charges for midnight pickups or when the plane is late, it added.
Philpott also previously repaid $520 for an Air Canada lounge pass.
"This is a new minister and this is a new government and this has been a humbling experience for us," Clements said.
In total, the minister has reimbursed $4,604.70.