For more information related to constituency offices, contact Financial Services at 250-356-8586.
Managing your Constituency Office
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Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are provided with an annual budget to cover the costs associated with operating and staffing constituency offices. This section contains information on how to set up, staff and manage a constituency office.
For more information related to constituency offices, contact Financial Services at 250-356-8586.
Constituency Office Funding
Each Member receives annual funding to operate their constituency office(s). This annual funding is comprised of the following:
This allowance is intended to cover the cost of signage, office supplies, and small items such as lamps and garbage cans, art work, and plants.
Additional information on this allowance can be found in the Use of the Constituency Office Allowance section.
Each of the above components is discussed later in this guide. In addition to the above, the Legislative Assembly pays for certain constituency office costs directly. These include lease costs (if stipulated in the lease agreement), insurance, telecommunications, basic internet charges, photocopier lease and usage charges, basic stationery, and the constituency office portion of certain benefits for constituency assistants, such as EI, CPP, and public service pension.
The Legislative Assembly also provides each Member with a $4,000 allowance for furniture and equipment per uninterrupted term of office. This allowance is discussed below.
Use of Constituency Office Allowance
The constituency office allowance is available to Members to run the day-to-day operations of their respective constituency offices. The annual constituency office allowance covers all staff and operating expenses and Members must budget accordingly for such items as staff vacation pay, overtime, staff severance payments, relief staff salaries, or any cancellation penalties associated with a lease. There are no additional funds available for these types of financial obligations.
Members may also use the constituency office allowance for communications with constituents whether in the form of a newsletter, household flyer, and print, online, radio, or television advertisements. The content of these advertisements and messages is restricted to outlining constituency office activities, and the role played by the Member in the legislative process. Members may not print or mail, at the expense of the Legislative Assembly, any material seeking financial support or containing any identification or information of a partisan, political nature.
In addition to the above, the Legislative Assembly pays for certain constituency office costs directly which do not come out of the constituency office allowance budget. These include lease costs, if stipulated in the lease agreement, as well as insurance, telecommunications, basic internet, photocopier lease and usage charges, basic stationery, and the constituency office portion of certain benefits for constituency assistants, such as EI, CPP, and public service pension.
The allowance is available effective the day following the election. Please note that this is the only allowance payable beyond the actual term of a Member, to permit Members to provide proper notice to their staff and landlords should they resign mid-term or not be re-elected.
MAKING PAYMENTS (INVOICES AND REIMBURSEMENTS)
As per the decision of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee on December 1, 2016, the Legislative Assembly has adopted a centralized payment and accounting system for constituency offices. Invoices should be sent to Financial Services for payment using the Assembly’s work-flow software (DocuWare). Members or their staff may also pay for purchases personally (for example using a credit card), and submit a reimbursement request to Financial Services using approved forms. Each office also has the option of establishing a small petty cash account for minor purchases. The Member must provide approval for any payment request (invoice, reimbursement, or petty cash replenishment), by electronically authorizing the transaction in the Assembly’s work-flow software, before Financial Services will issue payment. Itemized invoices and expense receipts are required in all cases.
For detailed information on this process, including payment steps and forms, please see both the Invoices and Payments page as well as the Centralization page of the Constituency Office (CO) Portal. (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
Financial accounts and records, including scanned copies of all invoices and receipts, are maintained by Financial Services. Please see the Records Management section below for additional information.
Part of the constituency office allowance covers all day-to-day expenses for office operations. The following is a list of typical eligible and ineligible expenses:
|Business equipment not provided by the Legislative Assembly||Cameras, mobile phones for staff, or window coverings|
|Additional stationery supplies (if annual allotment is exceeded)|
|Other office supplies necessary for the set-up and running of a business office||Pens/pencils, calendars, note pads, staplers|
|Annual service contracts not provided by the Legislative Assembly||Water delivery, or security installation and monitoring|
|Fees for other contracted services||Writers, janitorial, or office maintenance workers|
|Utilities not covered under the lease agreement||Electricity and water|
|Annual membership dues in non-political, non-religious associations|
|Expenses for staff to attend in-constituency meetings or functions on behalf of an Member||Business lunches, accommodation, event fees and mileage|
|Fees for Members to attend non-partisan events in their capacity as Members||Non-partisan events within a reasonable vicinity of the constituency|
|Constituency assistant travel costs exceeding the Member allotment of 12 accompanying person trips per year||Accommodation, travel, per diems for travel within the province not assigned as an accompanying person trip|
|Communications expenses||Newspaper ads, MLA reports, householders, signage, web page design, or inserts in special event programs|
|Protocol items||Gift items such as pins and flags|
|Other miscellaneous expenses||Supplies such as utensils, coffee maker, hand towels|
|Politically partisan advertising or mailings||Advertising using caucus or party colours, or other information|
|Salary or payments of any kind to a member of the Member's family|
|Items/cash donated for third-party fundraising|
|Any costs related to partisan, political activities of the Member, the party's constituency association, or the provincial political party||Fund-raisers or any kind of event related to raising donations or awareness of a political party|
|Items of a personal nature, and payments towards personal capital assets||Clothing, acquiring equity in real estate, leasing or purchasing a motor vehicle|
|Buying alcoholic beverages|
It is important to note that the above table does not include all scenarios. Please consult Financial Services for clarification or advice on what constitutes an eligible expense, as constituency office expenses may be reviewed by internal or external auditors.
Members are fully responsible for managing within their respective constituency office allowances and for ensuring expenditures are in compliance with this guide. A Member’s unspent constituency office funds may be carried forward for use in future years. Any unspent funds remaining when the Member ceases to be a Member are returned to the Assembly. To assist Members with budget management, Financial Services provides Members with access to on-line monthly reports detailing their year-to-date expenditures in comparison to budget. These reports also track unspent funds carried forward from previous years. These reports are available in the Constituency Office (CO) Portal. (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
In-Constituency Travel – Constituency Assistants
An annual allowance is provided to constituency offices in non-urban ridings to cover costs incurred by office staff while travelling on a Member's behalf within the constituency. This allowance is intended to cover normal travel expenses, such as mileage, taxis, hotels, and meals incurred by office staff while travelling on constituency business within the riding.
This allowance forms part of the constituency office budget. Constituency assistants must submit a claim with supporting receipts, approved by their Member, for reimbursement to Financial Services. Forms and detailed steps on submitting claims for reimbursement are available on the Constituency Office (CO) Portal (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
The annual allowance amounts vary by classification of riding as designated below:
Urban Riding – $0
|Burnaby North||Oak Bay-Gordon Head||Surrey-White Rock|
|Burnaby-Deer Lake||Port Coquitlam||Vancouver-Fairview|
|Burnaby-Edmonds||Port Moody-Coquitlam||Vancouver-False Creek|
|Burnaby-Lougheed||Richmond North Centre||Vancouver-Fraserview|
|Coquitlam-Burke Mountain||Richmond South Centre||Vancouver-Hastings|
|Delta South||Saanich South||Vancouver-Langara|
|Esquimalt-Metchosin||Surrey South||Vancouver-Mount Pleasant|
|Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows||Surrey-Green Timbers||Vancouver-West End|
|New Westminster||Surrey-Newton||Victoria-Swan Lake|
|North Vancouver-Lonsdale||Surrey-Panorama||West Vancouver-Capilano|
Semi-Urban Riding – $1,584
|Abbotsford South||Kamloops-South Thompson||Nanaimo-North Cowichan|
|Abbotsford West||Kelowna West||Parksville-Qualicum|
|Chilliwack||Kelowna-Mission||Saanich North and the Islands|
|Courtenay-Comox||Langford-Juan de Fuca||Vernon-Monashee|
|Cowichan Valley||Maple Ridge-Mission|
Semi-Rural Riding – $2,105
|Chilliwack-Kent||Mid Island-Pacific Rim||West Vancouver-Sea to Sky|
Rural Riding – $2,375
|Boundary-Similkameen||Kootenay West||Prince George-Mackenzie|
|Cariboo North||Nelson Creston||Prince George-Valemount|
|Kootenay East||Peace River South||Shuswap|
Coastal/Remote Riding – $3,860
|Cariboo-Chilcotin||Nechako Lakes||Peace River North|
|Columbia River-Revelstoke||North Coast||Powell River-Sunshine Coast|
Constituency assistants in urban ridings can receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket, work-related travel expenses from the constituency office allowance.
Office Furniture and Equipment
The Legislative Assembly provides one-time funding for Members to purchase and maintain furnishings and equipment for constituency offices. The total price cap for the above furnishings is $4,000 per three uninterrupted terms of office. Any unspent portion of the $4000 allowance after three consecutive parliaments carries forward and is available for future use at the start of the fourth term.
For example: A Member spends $3,500 of their $4,000 allowance in their first three terms. At the beginning of the fourth term their constituency office would receive the $4,000 replenishment in addition to the remaining $500 for a total available allowance of $4,500.
The following is a list of typical furniture and equipment purchases using the allowance:
|Desks||Office chairs||Display/brochure rack|
|Bookcase||Shredder||Legal size filing cabinets|
|Seating for visitors||Boardroom table||Kitchen equipment and appliances|
The above list contains examples only and is not meant to be exhaustive. Members may purchase either new or used office furniture and equipment. The signed invoice can be sent directly to Financial Services for payment through DocuWare.
The Legislative Assembly will provide one multi-function printer unit per constituency. Maintenance agreements will be provided and payment will be centrally billed to the Legislative Assembly. Service for these machines and requests for supplies should be directed to the Copy Centre at 250-356-0905. Any additional supplies or services not provided by the Legislative Assembly can be ordered and paid for with the constituency office allowance. Such items would include various specialty print jobs such as certificates or specialty paper products.
The Legislative Assembly only supports the IT and technical equipment it supplies. Any costs, including repairs and toner supplies, associated with additional equipment is at the expense of the constituency office.
Members may use the constituency office allowance for any additional furniture and equipment purchases exceeding or not covered by the start-up allowance budget.
Stationery and Supplies
Personalized letterhead, business cards, notecards, and envelopes are available to each Member from centralized funds under the control of the Speaker. In order to be eligible for the use of the centralized funds, orders should be submitted through Financial Services. Information on how to order stationery from the centralized funds can be found on the CO Portal. The maximum quantity paid by the Legislative Assembly is 3,000 units per fiscal period (April to March) for each of the following: letterhead, envelopes, and Member business cards. The maximum quantity is 500 for constituency assistant business cards (per constituency assistant), notecards and notecard envelopes per fiscal period. The cost for all orders in excess of this limit should be paid for with constituency office funds.
The standard supplies provided from centralized funding include:
The established format for stationery includes the Member's name; riding name; constituency address and phone number; email and web addresses; Parliament Buildings address and phone number; and websites and social media accounts. Member business cards may include a second or third language. Members that hold caucus positions, Opposition critic roles, or one of the other positions noted below may also include the position title on the stationery.
The cost of any orders that do not conform to the aforementioned format will be charged against the constituency office allowance. All print requisitions should be sent to Financial Services for processing. A separate requisition is required for each item. Instructions and the requisition form are available on the Constituency Office Portal (please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
Political affiliation or any related statements are not permitted on any print order paid for with public funds. This includes the use of party colors, names, and logos. It also includes used of caucus-assigned positions not listed above, such as a caucus liaison to a designated group.
Orders for ministry stationery or any other government executive position, including Parliamentary Secretaries, is separate and is not covered by the Legislative Assembly. Please contact the appropriate ministry for details.
Other generic office supplies are available through the Sergeant-at-Arms Supply Office. Orders should be coordinated through caucus staff. Please note that the Sergeant-at-Arms Supply Office does not provide services for constituency offices. Constituency offices may procure their own office supplies from local retailers using constituency office funds.
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY VISUAL IDENTITY
A new visual identity program for the Legislative Assembly was established to coincide with the start of the 41st Parliament. This new visual identity combines two iconic symbols – a graphic representation of St. Edward’s Crown, the top element of our provincial mace, and the dome shape of our Parliament Buildings. The Legislative Assembly received the required permission from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to use St. Edward’s Crown. The design also integrates a distinctive dome teal colour and cool grey tones, reflective of the domes of the Parliament Buildings and the granite blocks used in their construction.
The development of this unique visual identity also provides a distinction between the Legislative Assembly and the executive branch of government, which typically uses the provincial coat of arms as an official identifier.
Guidelines to assist new and returning Members move to the new visual identity are available online. Additional templates for letterhead, certificates, and other documents will be made available.
In order to minimize costs, returning Members may use a phased approach to implement the new visual identity, ordering new stationery once existing stationery stock is depleted.
Constituency Office Leases
To assist Members with lease negotiations, the Legislative Assembly has arranged to provide the services of a Leasing Consultant. Leasing information is available in the package describing the services offered to all Members immediately following the election, and in the narrated PowerPoint presentation (Windows Media Audio/Video File, viewable in Windows operating systems) provided by Shared Services.
Members are encouraged to work with the Leasing Consultant to identify and obtain space for their constituency offices. At minimum, it is required that all Members have lease agreements reviewed by the Leasing Consultant and Financial Services before finalizing their constituency office lease. This requirement applies to both new leases and lease renewals. Lease rates should be based on fair market value for the riding. Constituency office space should be wheelchair accessible and provide adequate security for staff (preferably with a front and rear exit and a security gate or alarm). Please note that the lease agreement is between the Member (not the Legislative Assembly) and the landlord, and the Legislative Assembly is not liable for any penalties or fees associated with a Member's lease.
Leases must contain a “termination clause” in the event the Member ceases to hold office. The following is a sample of an appropriate “termination clause”:
“At the option of the Tenant and upon thirty (30) days written notice to the Landlord, the Tenant or personal representative may terminate this Lease upon death, total disability, resignation, the loss of a Members' seat in a provincial general election or by-election, or otherwise.”
Once reviewed by the Leasing Consultant and Financial Services, leases for Members’ constituency offices should be submitted to Financial Services for direct payment to the respective landlords. The documents should clearly state the following:
All lease payments will be processed around the 15th of each month for the following month. Payment can be either by cheque or direct deposit.
The full lease costs, including normal occupancy expenses such as heat, light, apportioned amount of property taxes, common area expenses, parking, etc., will be paid provided these are stated in the lease. Please note that the Legislative Assembly does not pay for security deposits and does not make advance rent payments (post-dated cheques) to the landlord/payee.
For additional lease resources and guides, please visit the Constituency Office Portal (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
LEASE RENEWALS AND AMENDMENTS
Once reviewed by the Leasing Consultant and Financial Services, Members are required to forward a signed copy of their renewed or amended lease to Financial Services. Any rent adjustments will be made on the next available rent payment unless otherwise noted.
Tenant improvements are covered if they are specified in the lease agreement. In some cases, this may mean that the lease will need to be re-negotiated, or an addendum provided. Any material changes will require authorization from Financial Services prior to any work being done. In some cases, a business case may be required and authorization obtained from the Speaker. The Legislative Assembly does not provide advance payments to the landlord or contractors, and repairs and/or improvements are to be amortized over the remaining term of the lease.
Members representing very large or diverse constituencies may decide to open a secondary office. Members do not receive any additional funding to support a secondary office, and all furniture and equipment must be acquired within the existing allowance. In the event a second office is needed, Members should follow the same process as for the primary constituency office to secure a lease. Financial Services will pay the lease and any normal occupancy expenses stated in the lease agreement. Phones and Internet access will be provided.
As an economical alternative to opening a secondary office, a common practice has been for a Member to book a boardroom or conference area as required. Payment options can be either on a monthly schedule with a signed agreement or by invoice. Members can contact Financial Services for more details.
SHARING OF CONSTITUENCY OFFICE SPACE
Constituency office accommodation may be shared with a federal Member of Parliament or an elected municipal representative. Members may also share a constituency office with another Member. A formal agreement should be made and signed by all parties. Members wanting to opt into an agreement of this kind should contact Financial Services regarding the options for cost recovery.
Members required to move their constituency offices due to electoral boundary changes will have all associated moving costs covered by the Legislative Assembly. Members can contact the Information Technology Branch to assist with coordinating the move of phones, computers, and multi-function printer units. All other furniture and equipment can be dealt with at the local level.
Members wanting to voluntarily move their office for any other reason will have the cost of the phones, Internet, and multi-function printer units covered by the Legislative Assembly. Any other related costs are the responsibility of the constituency office. It is important that Members make certain they are not violating their existing lease conditions prior to committing to a move. The Legislative Assembly is not liable for any penalties or fees associated with a Member’s lease – these are the personal responsibility of the Member.
CONSTITUENCY OFFICE INSURANCE
The Legislative Assembly provides blanket insurance coverage through the General Liability Policy for each constituency office from its central budget. This policy consists of coverage for “all risks” (fire/smoke, water damage, theft, vandalism) of $50,000 office contents; $25,000 valuable papers and records; $5,000,000 commercial liability (personal injuries sustained by persons visiting a constituency office); and $100,000 tenants’ legal liability. All offices will be provided with a copy of their policy certificate each year. The General Liability Policy has an endorsement that includes the landlord as an additional insured party, and a separate certificate can be provided to the landlord, if required. The full policy details will be retained in Financial Services.
The insurance coverage also covers liability for public forums or events. An insurance “rider” certificate can be provided to the event organizer by contacting Financial Services and providing the date, address and third party name, as well as a general description of the event. A request form is available on the Constituency Office Portal. (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network). Any additional insurance premiums required for public forums or events should be covered from the constituency office allowance.
The constituency office is responsible for the first $250 of the deductible for any insurance claims. The balance of the deductible (maximum
$750) will be paid by Financial Services. Financial Services should be contacted prior to contacting the insurance company for claims resulting in damages of $1,000 or less. These claims will be handled internally. All material claims are to be handled through the insurance company. The contact information is located on each insurance certificate. Offices with claims involving replacement or repair of computer equipment can notify the IT Help Desk at 250-356-1655 so that system support can be provided.
The insurance coverage may not cover the significant loss or repair of personal equipment or furniture belonging to either a Member or an employee. In the event of loss or damage to personal belongings, claims are to be made against the Member or employee’s home insurance policy.
Constituency Office Staffing
Staffing a constituency office is solely the responsibility of each Member. In order to limit the legal liability of Members and the Legislative Assembly, Members must formalize the terms and conditions of employment within an employment contract. A sample employment contract is available from Payroll Services. If a formal employment contract is not executed, an offer letter detailing terms of employment is required. For additional information, please contact Payroll Services. In addition, all of the necessary payroll, benefit, and pension forms necessary to onboard a new constituency assistant are available on the Constituency Office Portal (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
|SALARY PAID REGULAR CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANTS||FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS|
Each Member determines the salary and other terms and conditions of employment for locally hired staff, unless they fall under a collective agreement. Staff cannot be a close relative of the Member.
Some caucuses may wish to establish “group conditions” for constituency office staff. Any individual or group conditions established cannot be binding on either the Legislative Assembly or the government.
Staff salaries are paid through the Legislative Assembly’s payroll system. Payroll Services will require a copy of the employment contract or letter of offer for new staff, who will also be required to complete the necessary employment forms. This service is provided strictly as a convenience to Members, and should not be interpreted as meaning the individuals are employees of the Legislative Assembly or the government.
The salary and benefits for regular full-time and part-time constituency assistants are deducted from the Member’s constituency office allowance. The total costs are deducted at source, and the combined amount cannot exceed the monthly allowance established for each Member.
|Q What is meant by “group conditions”?|
|A Group conditions can be a union contract or an employment contract developed by the caucus, and they are applicable to all constituency assistants (CAs) within the party. For example, group conditions could identify a salary schedule or vacation entitlement that applies to all staff.|
|Q Who is the employer?|
|A The employer is the Member, who must register with WorkSafe BC and pay annual premiums.|
|Q What forms are required for a new hire?|
|A New employees will be required to complete federal and provincial TD1 tax forms, direct deposit form, and the New Hire Information form to be forwarded to Payroll Services, along with a copy of their employment contract or offer letter and a copy of their SIN (social insurance number) card. Note, the copy of the SIN will be destroyed after verification that the name used matches the name on the SIN card. Employees with the benefit package will be provided with additional benefit enrolment forms.|
|Q What is meant by “salary paid”?|
|A The constituency assistant is set up on a regular pay schedule and paid a set amount every pay period. Any changes to the amount paid would require notification to Payroll Services. An example would be extra hours worked in addition to the normal work schedule for a particular period.|
|Q What does “deducted at source” mean?|
|A The total of all salary and benefit costs are deducted from the constituency allowance prior to the residual payment being released to the office. Please note that this applies to both new and returning Members. The difference is that returning Members receive a deposit into their constituency office bank account, whereas new Members have the expenses charged against their constituency office budget.|
|Q What happens if the salary costs exceed the allowance in a given month, and how does that happen?|
|A Normally, if the amount is not significant, an adjustment will be made to the allowance in the following month. If it is a large amount, Financial Services will contact the constituency office and request a cheque to cover the shortfall. Salary costs could exceed the allowance in a given month if there is a requirement to pay out additional pay such as overtime, or a salary increase might result in retroactive pay being recovered. In the case of new Members, there is no monthly maximums so Members and their staff should monitor their budgets closely to ensure they don’t exceed their annual budget.|
|Q Is the office allowed to hire extra staff if they have a surplus in their account to cover the additional salary costs over the allotted monthly allowance?|
|A This can only be a temporary arrangement. It is not uncommon to hire staff to replace a regular employee on a paid leave, or during a transition period where a person remains on payroll to train a new staff member. In both cases, it is acceptable practice to have the salary costs exceed the allowance.|
HOURLY PAID CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANTS
Some offices may require the use of temporary staff to assist during peak times. Employees hired on a temporary or “as and when required” basis are normally paid an hourly rate plus vacation pay, and in some circumstances can receive a health and welfare allowance in lieu of benefits.
Members are required to provide a letter of employment outlining the details of employment that include start date, hourly wage, vacation entitlement and the health-and welfare allowance, if applicable, and the termination date, if available. New employees will be required to complete TD1 tax forms and direct deposit form. It is highly recommended that Members formalize this relationship by way of an employment contract. Please contact Payroll Services for a sample template.
Bi-weekly time sheets will be required for the hourly paid assistant. Time sheets are to be submitted to Payroll Services on a timely basis in order to be processed in the next available pay run.
There is no requirement for Members to provide additional benefits to temporary employees. Benefits are only available to regular full- and part-time employees. The health and welfare allowance is only mandatory if outlined in a union or employment contract. There is a minimum of 35 hours bi-weekly in order to qualify for benefits.
BENEFIT PLANS FOR CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANTS
A letter of agreement has been signed by the BC Public Service Agency and the Legislative Assembly on behalf of the constituency assistants to enable them to participate in the Public Service Agency benefit plans. Any statutory or internal benefit plan and program changes approved for excluded employees in the public service will automatically apply to constituency assistants. Should questions arise, constituency assistants will abide by the policies, definitions and interpretations set by the BC Public Service Agency. Full details of the plan benefits can be obtained online.
Constituency assistants who are entitled to participate in the benefit plans are required to complete the enrollment forms and submit them to Payroll Services. The amount of the benefit chargeback plus actual costs for Medical Services Plan will be deducted from the constituency office allowance. The chargeback rate is fixed and is calculated on the gross salaries of the employees participating in the plans. The current rate for benefits is 6.0% of the gross salaries plus MSP costs.
|Medical Services Plan (MSP)||
|Extended Health and Dental Plans (EH&D)||
|Group Life Insurance Plan||
|Optional Spouse and Dependent Group Life||
|Group Aviation Insurance Plan||
|Short Term Illness and Injury Plan (STIIP)||
|Long Term Disability Plan (LTD)||
|Employee Assistance Program||
|Canada Savings Plan||
Records of staff leave are to be maintained in each constituency office. All sick leave records must also be forwarded to Payroll Services as there may be an impact on the employee’s pay. Members should ensure that the vacation entitlement for staff is indicated on the employment contract. A record should be kept for each employee accruing vacation time, overtime as banked time and records of sick time which will be required in the event an employee has qualified for long-term disability. Proper records will reduce the potential for dispute.
Members will be required, upon termination of an employee, to provide Payroll Services with written notice of vacation time or overtime owing. Any vacation or lump sum payments will be recovered from the constituency office allowance.
It is up to the Member to ensure that vacation time is taken when possible. All unused vacation time becomes a legal responsibility to the constituency office. This means there needs to be sufficient funds to pay out the liability when it comes due. It is at the discretion of the Member to determine if unused vacation time can be carried over into another year. Alternatively, unused vacation can be paid out on an employee’s anniversary date, calendar year-end, by request, or on termination of employment.
Members are required to provide Payroll Services with written notice of any salary changes. This includes all incremental increases as outlined in an employment contract or collective agreement. Notice can be in the form of an email from the Member’s private email account, a written memo, or a completed Constituency Assistant (CA) change form, stating the effective date of change and the new salary amount, or by completing the office expense form. All retroactive pay will be recovered from the constituency office allowance, and will be paid from the date of change until the date the change is implemented.
All Members must register, in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation Act, as employers with WorkSafe BC. Members can either request an application form from Payroll Services or can register online at www.worksafebc.com. If any office fails to register, they may be subject to a fine or penalty imposed by WorkSafe BC.
WorkSafe BC will make an assessment for the required premium based on the annual salaries paid. Assessments are sent to the constituency office once a year. It is the responsibility of each constituency office to calculate the premium owed, based on the salaries paid in the previous year and the current assessment rate provided. Since an elected official is not considered an employee, a Member’s salary is not included in the assessment. The amount of the premium is paid from the constituency office account.
TERMINATION AND LAYOFF NOTICES
Members will be required to send written notice, in a timely manner, to Payroll Services of any employee termination or lay off. It is important to note that late notice could result in an overpayment to an employee. The notice should include the date of the employee’s last day of work, the date of the last day of pay if not the same, any monies owing other than regular pay, if applicable, and the reason for termination.
Payroll Services will process the final pay, the termination notice for BC Pension Corporation, and the record of employment for the employee. Employees should be reminded to keep their mailing address current with Payroll Services to receive tax documents, such as T4s.
Members are obligated to provide compensation on termination or layoff of a constituency assistant as provided by the BC Employment Standards Act. The Employment Standards Act only applies if a collective agreement does not. Questions about staff termination and layoff procedures should be directed to Payroll Services.
In some situations MLAs will be required to contract a person or company to perform a specific job. It is important that MLAs follow the guidelines of a contract and not confuse this work with employment. Members should refer to the Canada Revenue Agency website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca for full details on determining the relationship. Please note that a Member may be subject to fines and penalties by the Canada Revenue Agency if it determines that an employee/employer relationship exists and the appropriate taxes were not remitted.
The following questions can be used as a quick reference to identify an employer/employee relationship or a contractor/self-employed worker:
|Employer/Employee Relationship||Contractor or Self-employed Worker|
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, an employer/employee relationship exists and the employee should be paid through the payroll system with proper deductions taken at source:
The following questions are a quick reference to identify a contractor or self-employed worker. Contract work is an eligible constituency expense and can be paid directly from the constituency office allowance:
Constituency offices are designed to encourage communication between the Member and all constituents, and therefore the office must be operated on a strictly non-partisan basis and cannot be used to engage in or host partisan, political activities. In keeping with this guideline and in order to provide constituents with a non-partisan venue, the exterior signage located at any constituency office should not:
The exterior sign should contain the name of the MLA or constituency as the primary focus. The style, form, and size of the sign are left to the discretion of the individual Member, subject to restrictions placed upon the Member by the management of the property.
IT Support and Internet Access
The Legislative Assembly provides computers and applicable software for Members and constituency office staff. The Information Technology Branch provides support for this equipment through the IT Help Desk at 778-401-6323.
Constituency offices must contact the IT Help Desk if computers require servicing or if they require additional programs or equipment to be installed. If it is necessary to have a technician on site to perform any maintenance or repair, this will be arranged by the IT Help Desk.
The IT Help Desk is staffed during the following hours:
Monday to Friday:
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
on site support
Monday to Friday:
5:00 p.m. until two hours after the House adjourns
off site support
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays:
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
off site support
Monday to Friday:
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
on site support
Monday to Friday:
5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
off site support
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays:
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
off site support
The Legislative Assembly will provide high-speed Internet access to each constituency office. A Telecommunications Administrator from IT will arrange for an account to be opened with the local service provider and the billing will be forwarded directly to Financial Services.
The Information Technology Branch will provide a multi-function printer unit (including fax, photocopier, printer, and scanning services) to new Members.
Member and Constituency Office
Members will be supplied with their choice of one of the notebooks or tablets in the table below as well as an iPad should they wish to have one. Each Member is also allocated two computers for their constituency assistants and they may choose from the desktop and notebook computers in the table below. Constituency Assistants selecting a notebook computer will also be supplied with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse. Any cost of acquiring extra computers in additional to the two allotted computers will be charged to the constituency office allowance. Due to support and security concerns, only computers supplied by, or purchased from, the Legislative Assembly will be connected to the Legislative Assembly network.
All computers are supplied with Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016 Professional (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, Access and Skype), Microsoft Outlook, Adobe Reader, and Adobe Photoshop Elements.
New Members who have not yet opened a constituency office or hired staff may delay the ordering of the equipment for their staff if they wish. Members choosing to provide a smartphone to their constituency assistant must absorb the cost from constituency office funds.
If Members have any questions about the different models of computers or smartphones, they may call the Information Technology Help Desk at 778-401-6323. Members may also contact the Director, Graeme Brown, directly at 250-356-1712 or at email@example.com.
|MEMBER’S COMPUTER OPTIONS|
|Notebook/Tablet||Choice of 1||Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 6|
|Apple MacBook Air|
|iPad||OPTIONAL||Apple iPad Pro|
|CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANT’S COMPUTER OPTIONS|
|Desktop PC||Choice of 1||Lenovo ThinkCentre M910 Tiny|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L480|
|Apple MacBook Air|
New Members may choose one smartphone from the four listed below. The default carrier used by the Legislative Assembly is Telus, but Members may select Rogers or Bell as their carrier if they are aware that Telus does not provide adequate coverage in their riding. If Members have any questions about the different mobile phones, they may call the Telecommunications Administrator at 250-952-0663.
|Smartphone||Choice of 1||Apple iPhone 8 or 8 Plus|
|Samsung Galaxy 9 or 9+|
|Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3XL|
MEMBER’S COMPUTER OPTIONS
Choose 1 Notebook/Tablet and the iPad (optional)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon||
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8650U|
|Storage||128 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.73" x 8.54" x 0.62"|
|Battery||Up to 11 hours|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga||
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8650U|
|Storage||128 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.1" x 9.01" x 0.67"|
|Battery||Up to 15 hours|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 6||
|Processor||Intel Core i5|
|Storage||256 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||11.5" x 7.93" x 0.33"|
|Battery||Up to 9 hours|
|Apple MacBook Air||
|Processor||Intel Core i5|
|Storage||256 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||11.97" x 8.36" x 0.61"|
|Battery||Up to 12 hours|
|Apple iPad Pro||
|Storage||64 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||9.74" x 7.02" x 0.23"|
|Battery||Up to 11 hours|
Choose 1 Smartphone
||Apple iPhone 8||Apple iPhone 8 Plus|
|Storage||256 GB||256 GB|
|Screen||4.7" diagonal||5.5" diagonal|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||5.44" x 2.64" x 0.28"||6.23" x 3.07" x 0.29"|
|Weight||5.22 ounces||7.13 ounces|
|Battery||Up to 14 hours talk time||Up to 21 hours talk time|
||Samsung Galaxy S9||Samsung Galaxy S9+|
|Storage||64 GB (expandable)||64 GB (expandable)|
|Screen||5.8" diagonal||6.2" diagonal|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||5.83" x 2.68" x 0.30"||6.28" x 2.89" x 0.31"|
|Weight||5.47 ounces||6.1 ounces|
|Battery||Up to 30 hours talk time||Up to 34 hours talk time|
||Google Pixel 3||Google Pixel 3XL|
|Storage||128 GB||128 GB|
|Screen||5.5" diagonal||6.3" diagonal|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||5.7" x 2.7" x 0.3"||6.2" x 3.0" x 0.30"|
|Weight||5.0 ounces||5.9 ounces|
|Battery||Up to 26 hours talk time||Up to 26 hours talk time|
CONSTITUENCY ASSISTANT’S COMPUTER OPTIONS
Choose 1 Desktop PC
|Lenovo ThinkCentre M910 Tiny||
|Processor||Intel Core i5-6200U|
|Storage||512 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||1.36" x 7.20" x 7.05"|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L480||
|Processor||Intel Core i5-7300U|
|Storage||512 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.19" x 9.25" x 0.87"|
|Battery||Up to 10.5 hours|
|Apple MacBook Air||
|Processor||Intel Core i5|
|Storage||256 GB SSD|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.8" x 8.94" x 0.68"|
|Battery||Up to 12 hours|
The Legislative Assembly will provide each main constituency office with the following:
Phone and Internet access will be provided to secondary constituency offices as required. All equipment ordering and billing for the constituency office phones will be handled centrally through the Telecommunications Administrator, Information Technology branch at 250-952-0663. Any additional equipment not supplied by the Legislative Assembly may be purchased using constituency funds. This includes items like headsets or devices for the hearing impaired.
SMARTPHONES AND ACCESSORIES
The Legislative Assembly will provide each Member with a smartphone and an optional iPad and any included accessories. The following guidelines will apply to the use of these devices:
Members not on the corporate account can pay their bill, note any personal charges, sign as approved and submit for reimbursement or payment.
A smartphone will be provided to each new Member. Four options are available to choose from; devices will be supplied based on the most economical plan available at the time of acquisition. Members will have the option to upgrade a device with any additional cost to be charged to the constituency office allowance or having the data plan for an existing device transferred to the corporate account. Members should contact the Legislative Assembly Telecommunications Administrator at 250-952-0663 to determine their needs.
Upgrades for a new smartphone will be provided to each returning Member at the expiration of any current contracts. Members requesting an upgrade sooner can contact the Telecommunications Administrator to determine availability. Additional costs will be charged against the constituency office allowance.
The constituency office allowance will be charged for any costs associated with the replacement of a lost or smartphone.
Repairs will be paid for by the Assembly. If a smartphone is beyond repair it will be replaced with the comparable device provided to Members. Any costs to upgrade a device will be charged to the constituency office allowance.
Billing for data plans will be set up on the Legislative Assembly corporate account for Telus, Rogers, or Bell. The Telecommunications Administrator will be responsible for setting these up to ensure the best rate and plan available. If a Member does not want to be included on the corporate billing, they can be reimbursed by submitting a copy of their cell phone bill to Financial Services.
Members will be provided with the A/C charger and reimbursed for the following accessories (if required):
Any additional items are the responsibility of the Member.
Travelling/Roaming with Mobile Devices:
Members or staff travelling with their mobile devices should be aware that using these devices outside of Canada for voice calls and/or data (emails, text messages, and Internet) use can incur considerable charges. The Legislative Assembly will only reimburse for usage that was for Legislative Assembly-related business. Any other charges will be the responsibility of the user.
In advance of international travel, it is essential that Members contact the Legislative Assembly Telecommunications Administrator to inquire about any discount packages available for voice and/or data while travelling abroad.
Members who may wish to provide staff with a smartphone must use constituency office funds. The Legislative Assembly does not provide constituency office staff with smartphones and/or other communications devices. Constituency offices can take advantage of the government rates by contacting the Telecommunications Administrator to assist with the purchase. It is also important to remember that to avoid penalties or additional fees, contracts should not exceed the four-year term of office.
Constituency Office Security
Members are responsible for ensuring that constituency office work environments meet safety and security requirements and protect constituency office staff, office assets and information, and the public in general.
To assist Members and constituency office staff, the following reference guides on constituency office security information and specifications are available on the Legislative Assembly’s internal Constituency Office Portal (Please note that the Portal and PDF hyperlinks below are intranet-based, and only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
Specific questions and requests for assistance with respect to constituency office security issues should be directed to the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms at 250-387-5516, or the Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms at 250-387-1622.
Asset Inventory and Disposal
All assets purchased entirely or partly with public funds for constituency office use are the property of the Legislative Assembly. Each constituency office will be required to complete an inventory list of all assets purchased, submit a copy to Financial Services within three months of setting up the constituency office, and retain the original in the constituency office. A template asset inventory form is available on the Constituency Office Portal (Please note that the Portal is intranet-based, and is only accessible from the Legislative Assembly network).
Departing Members are responsible for disposing of all items on their inventory lists (i.e. distribute to the new Member, private sale, donation, or auction). A disposal form detailing assets disposed of, including items donated, and the amounts received, is to be forwarded to Financial Services and the proceeds should be deposited into the constituency office bank account. Depreciation should be taken into account when estimating the current value of assets. Departing Members are encouraged, where reasonable, to make all assets available to the new Member.
Members, their families or staff cannot purchase constituency office assets. All computer equipment must be returned to the Information Technology Branch for secure destruction.
During a term of elected office, each Member collects numerous documents, including financial records, constituency case files, and documents related to their legislative duties.
Constituency financial records have a 7-year retention requirement. Following the move to a centralized payment and accounting model, some constituency offices will have a mixture of financial records from the pre and post centralization periods.
Under the new centralized model, Financial Services will maintain the accounting records and scanned copies of all invoices and receipts in perpetuity. Original documents pertaining to the current fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) must be retained for audit purposes until confirmation of completion of the financial audit for that fiscal year is received from Financial Services. It is recommended that these original documents be filed by the month in which they were uploaded to DocuWare to facilitate any retrieval requests made by the auditors. Once notification has been received from Financial Services, destruction of such documents should be done in a secure and timely manner.
Some documents, such as invoices and receipts required for warranty purposes, should be retained in original form and not be destroyed.
Other financial records (those not scanned to the work-flow system), such as contracts and agreements, should be retained by the constituency office for at least 7 years.
Financial Records - Prior to April 1, 2018
Any financial records pertaining to the period prior to April 1, 2018 should be maintained by the constituency office for at least 7 years, and provided to Financial Services at the end of a Parliament or upon closing of a constituency office.
Financial records include: a full print out of the general ledger from the date the constituency office opened until it was closed; all bank statements; cancelled cheques; bank reconciliations; supplier invoices; expense claim forms for in-constituency travel; and contracts and agreements.
The Legislative Assembly will assist Members in determining the retention requirements for their various files. The Legislative Assembly contact person for financial records management is Hilary Woodward, Executive Financial Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Inactive constituency records, such as case files, have a recommended 5-year retention period starting on the date that the file becomes closed or inactive.
The Legislative Assembly offers all Members free storage for their personal, political or constituency records for a period of up to 5 years after the date of their departure from the Legislative Assembly. After this, records will be transferred to the Legislative Library for permanent retention or destruction, subject to agreement between the Member and the Legislative Library. The contact person for non-financial records management is Peter Gourlay, Director, Legislative Library (email@example.com).
Executive Financial Officer
Director, Legislative Library
Protection and Security of Information
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides British Columbians with a legal right of access to records, with limited exceptions, in order to make public bodies more open and accountable to the public they serve. The Act also protects the privacy of personal information held by public bodies. Although the Act does not directly apply to the Legislative Assembly, its Members and officers, some records created by the Assembly, its Members and officers, which are shared with public bodies, including ministries and the offices of Ministers and the Premier, are subject to the Act.
Members are encouraged to familiarize themselves with good practices to protect the privacy and security of personal information. It is recommended that Members and their staff use information technology devices provided by the Legislative Assembly, rather than personal devices, in order to receive or send communications relating to their parliamentary roles. Unlike personal devices, devices provided by the Assembly can protect and encrypt files to ensure sensitive or personal information is secure. Additional security and privacy tips for mobile devices have been prepared by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Auditor General.
Release of Personal Information
Members meet regularly with constituents and provide assistance to those who have questions or concerns about provincial government programs, policies, and benefits. In order to assist constituents with these matters, personal information may need to be provided to a Member or a Member’s constituency assistant by a public body. A Member can request the release of personal information on behalf of an individual constituent who has directly requested their assistance by using a Certificate of Authority. Should a constituent request a Member’s assistance on behalf of a third party (e.g. a parent requesting information on behalf of their child or an adult requesting support on behalf of their elderly parent), Members can request the release of personal information by using a Third Party Consent form. Additional information on this process is available online or from:
Corporate Information and Records Management Office
Privacy, Compliance and Training Branch
Privacy and Access Helpline: 250-356-1851.
Data Management and Equipment Disposal
The Information Technology (IT) Branch supports Members and their staff with constituency office data management and the disposal of computer hardware and hard drives following a hardware failure or upgrade.
DATA BACKUP AND RESTORATION
The IT Branch uses a combination of daily, weekly and monthly data backups to ensure that lost data can be restored, if required. Daily and weekly backups allow the restoration of a file from any day in the previous 10 weeks. Monthly backup files are kept for 13 months and then they are deleted.
For the period beyond the 10 weeks covered by the daily and weekly backups, files can only be recovered if they existed when the monthly backup was run on the first weekend following the end of the month. The IT Branch is unable to recover any file deleted more than 13 months ago, although Members or their staff may be able to recover such files if they remain in an accessible email or network drive.
Members and their staff should contact the IT Branch for support regarding hardware issues in a constituency office. The IT Branch will then have a regional contractor, Tecnet, go to the site and determine the problem. If the problem involves the failure of the notebook or PC hard drive, the IT Branch ships a replacement computer to the constituency office, and has the office send the problem computer to the IT Branch by courier. On receipt of the problem computer, the IT Branch will remove the hard drive, insert a new hard drive, re-image the computer and return it. The serial number of the old hard drive is recorded, and the old hard drive is then sent to the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms for appropriate disposal in a secure manner.
Quarterly information on Members’ constituency expenses is disclosed publicly on the Legislative Assembly website, in the section dealing with Members' remuneration and expenses. In 2014, the Assembly’s quarterly public disclosure was expanded to include constituency office expense information. The initial posting on the Assembly website was for the three month period January 1 to March 31, 2014. Since 2015, supporting receipts have been included along with the regular quarterly reports.
The quarterly constituency office reports disclose expenses paid during the reporting period in the following expense categories: Office Administration, Special Events and Protocol, Communications and Advertising, Office Supplies, Travel, and Other Office Expenses. The report does not include centralized expenses, for example lease and internet costs, which are paid directly by the Legislative Assembly.
Last Updated: June 7, 2017