University expenses made public
Disclosure policy will ensure greater transparency
Under a new disclosure policy announced by Premier Alison Redford on Sept. 5, hundreds of provincial employees will be expected to make their expenses available online and to the public.
Employees, including Ministers, Associate Ministers and political staff, are expected to submit their receipts every two months for travel, accommodation, food and hospitality expenses.
The new policy is said to be the most detailed in the country.
While the disclosure policy wasn’t a previously a requirement, Redford said she now expects all post-secondary institutions to follow suit. Mount Royal University and other institutions such as SAIT and the University of Calgary said they are open to the new process.
Duane Anderson, vice-president of administrative services at MRU, said the policy won’t have a great effect on the university.
“We’ve had very strict protocols in place for many, many years,” he said.
Mount Royal has already been executing the appropriate procedures to ensure all employee spending is properly regulated and constantly checked by the right people.
The last time MRU made any major changes to their expense policies was six years ago when they moved away from a system where employees would submit their receipts for reimbursement. Now they operate under a set spending rate.
These spending rates are matched to government rates. Also, out of country travel rates are matched to federal spending rates.
While the implementation of this policy will allow for greater transparency and accountability, Anderson said they really haven’t had to change anything. “The only thing they [students] might notice are the posted receipts.”
However, Anderson did say that MRU is still waiting to hear from government officials to find out exactly who is able to access the records and how they would go about doing so.
This change in policy comes after documents obtained by Canadian Taxpayers Federation revealed that U of C’s board chairman Doug Black claimed $28,000 in expenses in little over a year.
Previous chairman, Jack Perraton, claimed only $434 in three years.
Another instance of misuse occurred when Allaudin Merali, Alberta Health Services executive vice-president and chief financial officer, was recently fired for spending thousands of dollars on repairs and upgrades for his Mercedes Benz, as well as expensive luxury dinners and wine, according to CBC.
While Redford firmly stated that employees could no longer claim alcohol as a meal expense, Anderson said the unfortunate reality is that wining and dining business partners is still considered a necessary aspect of the job.
Under the new policy, Redford has placed more limitations on what constitutes hospitality.
The provincial disclosure policy will officially go into effect starting Oct 1.