For more information related to Member travel, contact Financial Services at 250-356-8586.
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As elected officials, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are required to travel to fulfil their legislative and constituency duties. The following guidelines outline the policies and provisions that facilitate Members' work-related travel in their constituency, within British Columbia, and outside the province. All MLA travel expenses are publicly disclosed on a quarterly basis on the Legislative Assembly website.
For more information related to Member travel, contact Financial Services at 250-356-8586.
MEMBERS' TRAVEL EXPENSE DISCLOSURE
Quarterly information on Members' travel expenses is disclosed publicly on the Legislative Assembly website, in the section related to MLA remuneration and expenses. This disclosure fulfils a commitment made by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) in July 2012. It provides details of a Member's travel costs that have been processed and paid by Financial Services in the reporting period. The disclosure does not include travel costs where the travel expense claim has not been submitted for processing, or where the travel claim is in the process of being paid.
Quarterly disclosures include reports by Members on the following expense categories: Capital City Allowance – Accommodation, Capital City Allowance – Per Diem, Members’ Travel Expense Allowance, In-Province Travel, Accompanying Person Travel, and Out-Of-Province Travel. Additional information is also provided regarding parliamentary committee travel and travel for Cabinet Ministers.
Members’ Travel Expense Allowance
An annual “Members’ Travel Expense Allowance” of $6,000 per fiscal year is payable to Members to help offset the costs associated with work within their constituencies. This allowance is meant to cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred, including travel costs that are not otherwise reimbursable below. This allowance is added to each Members’ pay cheque in a quarterly lump sum, with deductions held at source, in May, August, November, and February. Members are not required to keep any receipts or to document the use of this allowance, and as such it is included in each Member’s income for tax purposes.
Members may undertake work-related travel throughout the province, provided the travel is reasonable and justifiable. Eligible types of travel may include trips to Victoria, travel to attend meetings inside and outside of the constituency, or travel with a parliamentary committee. In all cases, Members are issued and strongly encouraged to use a travel card for their travel and may claim reasonable and actual expenses.
The following table provides a summary of travel expenditures that are eligible for reimbursement. The Members’ Travel Expense Allowance is intended to offset the costs of travel that are not eligible for reimbursement below:
|Out-of-Constituency Travel||In-Constituency Travel|
|Accommodation (including accommodation parking)||Eligible||Eligible|
|Mileage when using a private car ($0.55 per kilometer) All mileage claims must include a clear description of each individual trip, including starting location and ending destination, to be eligible for reimbursement||Eligible||A Member may claim mileage for travel within their constituency if the Member travelled more than 50 kilometers in a single day for work-related meetings, excluding travel between the Member’s home and primary constituency office.|
|Per Diems (see below for additional guidance and amounts)||Eligible||A Member may claim a per diem allowance when travelling within their constituency if the Member travelled more than 50 kilometers in one day (excluding mileage between the Member’s home and primary constituency office).|
|Car rentals (and fuel for car rentals)||Eligible||Not eligible|
|Bus or transit fare||Eligible||Not eligible|
|Reasonable laundry and dry-cleaning costs||Eligible if the travel is more than seven consecutive days||Not eligible|
|Business telephone calls and work-related internet charges||Eligible||Not eligible|
|Registration Fees to attend conferences or seminars||Only eligible as a travel expense if pre-approved by the Speaker. Alternatively, these can be paid for using constituency office funds or caucus funds (with prior approval of the caucus).|
|Costs to rent meeting rooms||Not eligible. These can be paid for using constituency office funds or caucus funds (with prior approval of the caucus).|
|Fines, parking tickets, or any other payments for infractions||Not eligible. These are considered a personal expense and will not be paid using public funds, including constituency or caucus funds.|
A Member may claim a per diem reimbursement of up to $61 for each day they are on travel status outside of their constituency. The per diem is meant to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses while a Member is away from their home or constituency. A Member may claim a per diem allowance when travelling within their constituency if the Member travelled more than 50 kilometers in one day (excluding mileage between the Member’s home and constituency office).
Per Diem Reimbursement
A Member of the Legislative Assembly on travel status outside of their constituency (or within their constituency if the condition below is met) may claim a per diem reimbursement in accordance with the following rates:
The per diem reimbursement is intended to cover the cost of meals and other out of pocket incidental travel expenses while a Member is away from their home or constituency over a meal period(s). A per diem reimbursement is not claimable when a Member is working in their constituency, unless they are attending a parliamentary committee meeting in their riding or if the Member travelled more than 50 kilometers in one day (excluding mileage between the Member’s home and primary constituency office).
When a Member travels for a partial day, only meals that are applicable to the portion of the day spent on travel status may be claimed. When a Member consumes a meal, which has been provided without charge or paid for from public funds, no claim for that meal may be made.
A Member may claim incidentals only when no other per diem claims are made for that day. Examples of incidental expenses include telephone calls, porterage and other gratuities not included in receipts.
MLA Travel Card
The MLA travel card (MLA MasterCard) is a credit card that Members can use for all travel-related expenses while on Member business. The card is intended for travel expenses and should not be used for personal charges or any other charges not directly related to business travel.
Members will be issued a travel card through a common plan arranged by Financial Services. Monthly account statements are available online at bmospenddynamics.com on the 26th day of each month. Members are responsible for paying their account balances by the payment deadlines set out in the cardholder agreement. Members must submit signed travel expense claims for eligible expenses to Financial Services for reimbursement. Scanned receipts are acceptable. In cases where scanned receipts are submitted, the originals should be retained by the Member for audit purposes and not be submitted to Financial Services.
Financial Services places a high priority on Member travel claims, and most claims can be processed and paid within one week of receipt. Timely and accurate submission of travel expense claims will ensure funds are provided to Members well in advance of the payment deadline.
If the travel card is lost or stolen, the Member should contact the Bank of Montreal's (BMO's) Client Contact Centre immediately by calling 1-800-361-3361. It is important that this number be kept in a safe location that can be easily accessed. In the event of a lost or stolen card, the procedures are:
Alternatively, a Member can contact Financial Services during normal working hours for cancellation and/or re-issuing of a travel card.
Members should contact vendors immediately to resolve any disputed items. In the event that a resolution cannot be reached, they should contact Financial Services for assistance. Should the card be compromised (meaning a charge appears on the statement from a vendor not used by a Member), the charge should be reported immediately to BMO using the phone number on the back of the card, and subsequently to Financial Services at FinancialServices@leg.bc.ca.
If card is damaged, Members will need to contact Financial Services to request a replacement card. The process normally takes 5-7 business days. If an emergency replacement card is needed, a Member can call the BMO Client Contact Centre at:
In most instances BMO MasterCard will make arrangements with hotels and airlines to make adequate credit available to complete the trip. A Member will need to contact Financial Services upon their return to get a new card.
The BMO Client Contact Centre also offers support for additional services. Full details on these services are available from Financial Services.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q How does a personal liability card work?
A Each Member who chooses to participate will be issued a travel charge card through a common plan arranged by Financial Services. Monthly account statements are available online. Members are responsible for paying their account balance by the payment deadlines set out in the cardholder agreement. As the travel cards are individually billed, it is the cardholder’s responsibility to make a payment.
Members will submit their travel expense claims for eligible expenses to Financial Services and will be reimbursed on a timely basis so they can pay off the account balance.
Timely and accurate submission of travel claims with original or scanned supporting documentation will eliminate the risk of interest charges (See Making Payments below).
Q When will Members receive an MLA travel card?
A Please contact Financial Services to obtain an MLA travel card.
Q Is card use mandatory or optional?
A Use of the MLA Travel Card is optional but strongly encouraged because the MLA Travel Card offers protections that a personal card may not offer.
Q Can I use the card for personal use?
A The card is to be used for Member travel only. Any personal charges will not be eligible for reimbursement and must be paid by the Member.
Q How do I activate the card?
A Financial Services will assist Members in the activation of their travel card. Members will also receive a personal identification number (PIN). For security purposes, please keep your PIN confidential.
Q Does the card cover car rental insurance?
A Yes. Coverage is consistent with the government plan and will include a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).
Q Will I be able to use the card at BC Ferries to access priority loading?
A Yes. Each card will include the Member’s name and indicate that it is an MLA travel card.
Q Will the card affect my personal credit rating?
A No. Use of the card will not affect a Member’s personal credit rating.
Q How do I make a payment?
A To make a payment, a cardholder can go to a BMO branch, make a telephone/internet payment via their own bank account, or send a cheque payment to BMO MasterCard Payments, PO Box 6044 Station Centre-Ville, Montreal QC H3C 3X2.
Q What is the monthly billing repayment period?
A The monthly billing repayment period is 28 days. The extended time frame compared to the standard government travel card will provide Members with sufficient time to submit a travel claim for reimbursement well in advance of the credit card payment due date.
Q When does the monthly billing period end?
A The statement date is the 26th day of each month. Members will have 28 days to pay from that date.
Q Who pays the interest if I miss a payment?
A The Member is responsible for paying any interest charges on outstanding payments. The interest rate charged on purchases is the prime rate plus 2%, calculated on a daily rate.
Q What happens if I don't pay my balance?
A Interest charges will be applied to any outstanding balances not paid in full by the credit card due date. If there is no payment after two payment cycles in a row, the account will become delinquent and the card may be blocked for further usage until payments are up to date.
Q Can I use the card to collect Air Miles or other airline bonus points?
A No. The MLA travel card does not permit the collection of Air Miles.
Q Can I collect air miles for travel related to Member business on my personal credit card?
A Yes. A Member can accumulate Airline Bonus Points on a personal credit card. The Member is responsible for maintaining accurate records and ensuring that the points are not used for any purpose other than legislative business, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association travel, or as a donation to a recognized charity under the Income Tax Act. This decision was made by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee in May 1993.
Q Will I get a print monthly statement?
A All statements are available online on the 26th of each month at bmospenddynamics.com. There is a $3 charge per month to Members wishing to receive a paper statement. Members can change their paper/online statement preference online at bmospenddynamics.com. Alternatively, they can contact Financial Services if they would prefer to receive a print copy of the statement.
Q Will I be able to view my statement on-line?
A Yes. Members can view online statements at bmospenddynamics.com.
As plan administrator, Financial Services will have electronic access to all account information.
Q What is the monthly credit limit?
A The monthly credit limit is $15,000. Any changes to the monthly credit limit will be handled through Financial Services.
Q When is the credit limit re-established?
A The credit limit is re-established upon the payment of any outstanding balances.
Q Is there a per-transaction limit on the card?
A There is no per-transaction limit on the card, provided the monthly transaction limit is not exceeded.
Q Can I take out cash advances?
A No. Cash advances are not available.
Q How do I get reimbursed?
A Members must complete an on-line travel claim and submit the claim, along with original or scanned receipts, to Financial Services for reimbursement. In cases where scanned receipts are submitted, the originals should be retained by the Member for audit purposes.
Q How long will it take to be reimbursed?
A Reimbursement typically takes between 3 and 5 business days, following submission of a completed travel claim with original receipts. In emergency circumstances, a payment can be processed sooner.
Q Will Financial Services accept scanned receipts?
A Yes. In cases where scanned receipts are submitted, the originals should be retained by the Member for audit purposes.
Each Member is required to submit a travel claim to Financial Services for each trip taken. Members submit a claim for reimbursement using the online travel system. The on-line system is accessed through a web portal using an assigned user ID and password. Members will be provided with full instructions on using the on-line travel system once the administrator has completed the initial set up. The administrator will assign user privileges to the Member, the legislative assistant assigned to the Member and, if required, the constituency assistant.
Each claim is signed by the Member and sent to Financial Services for payment (except for parliamentary committee travel, which is sent to the Parliamentary Committees Office for additional sign off by the Chair and/or Clerk of the committee). Applicable receipts must be submitted with the claim form, as travel expenses may be reviewed by internal or external auditors.
Forms can be completed by the Member or a designate, although the original claim must be signed by the Member prior to submission. When the form is filled out by someone other than the Member, the form may be faxed or emailed to the Member in his or her constituency where they can review the claim, sign it and send it back to Financial Services. Alternatively, Members can access the claim on-line, print off a copy, sign it and send it to Financial Services.
Claims should be submitted in a timely manner to ensure accurate reporting in the quarterly public disclosures posted on the Legislative Assembly’s website. As a guideline, claims should be submitted for reimbursement at least once a week when the Legislative Assembly is in session and at least once every two weeks when the House is not sitting.
The online travel form requires the following information about Member travel:
|Travel Claim Form Checklist|
Parliamentary Committee Travel
Members appointed to select standing or special committees of the Legislative Assembly may claim travel and all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with attendance at parliamentary committee meetings. Committee travel is a separate category of work-related travel.
Members are required to submit a travel claim form, with receipts, to the Parliamentary Committees Office. The forms are reviewed and approved by the Deputy Clerk and Clerk of Committees and/or the Chair of the committee, and forwarded to Financial Services for payment.
Members may on occasion be required to travel outside the province on official business, such as attending Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences. Any travel outside the province requires prior written approval, using the Assembly’s pre-approval form, by the Speaker to be eligible for reimbursement.
Members can claim reasonable, out-of-pocket expenses relating to travel, including: air fare; ferry costs; mileage when using a private vehicle consistent with allowable rates (see In-Province Travel Guidelines); car rentals; bus or transit fare; accommodation; parking; and taxis. For out-of-province accommodation a reasonable amount must be established considering business requirements and federal accommodation rates. For out-of-country or U.S. accommodation, Members will be reimbursed for actual commercial accommodation expenses for the travel location up to those rates established by the federal government through their standing offer arrangements for accommodation. Refer to this federal accommodation site for rate information.
The most economical airfare for air travel considering operational requirements is required. Members are permitted airfare upgrades to executive or business class where the in-flight travel is four hours or more, and the travel is required to fulfil their legislative duties.
Travel loyalty program benefits, such as airline frequent flyer points that are accumulated by Members while travelling at public expense, must not be used for personal benefit. Such benefits or discounts should be applied only against future business travel or donated to charities associated with the program. Benefits accumulated while travelling at public expense should not be used beyond a Member’s term in office.
Members may also claim reasonable laundry and dry-cleaning costs provided the travel is in excess of seven consecutive days. Claims for business telephone calls and work-related Internet charges are also covered. To limit roaming charges, Members are reminded to contact the IT Help Desk to purchase international roaming packages before their trip and to use WIFI whenever possible.
In addition to the normal expenses, Members travelling out of the country may be reimbursed for visas and passports, inoculations, preventative medicine (such as malaria tablets), car rental and/or baggage insurance and additional medical insurance. The Speaker may also approve actual meeting, conference, and function expenses, as well as hospitality and entertainment expenses. These additional expenditures will be reimbursed provided the Member has not been, nor will be, reimbursed by any other parties.
For travel in Canada and the United States, a per diem reimbursement of up to $61 per day is used to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses. In the United States, Members are paid the equivalent in US funds including claims for partial day travel. Meals received without charge or paid for from public funds cannot be claimed. For international travel, foreign currency rates apply. Members travelling abroad receive a per diem rate for meals and incidentals based on the "Meal Total " rates contained in Appendix D of the Travel Directive established by the federal National Joint Council. For partial days or for situations where meals are received without charge or paid with other public funds, the related individual meals (using the federal National Joint Council rates) must be deducted from the full day rates calculated above. Where the individual meal rates are not published, the following percentages of the full day “Meal Total” must be deducted from the full day/per diem rate: Breakfast (20%); Lunch (20%); Dinner (35%).
If Members combine personal and business travel, reimbursement is based on the lesser of actual transportation expenses or the most economical transportation expenses that would have been incurred had personal travel not taken place. Per diems will not be paid and expenses incurred will not be reimbursed except to the extent that they would have been paid and/or reimbursed had the personal travel not taken place.
A personal attendant who is required to travel with a physically disabled Member in the discharge of duties assigned by the Speaker may have his/her expenses reimbursed. Specifically, a personal attendant will be reimbursed for travel expenses not to exceed those set by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC). The spouse of a physically disabled Member may be considered a personal attendant.
Expenses incurred for a Member's spouse or family member other than acting in a capacity of a personal attendant to a physically disabled member, are not reimbursable.
Executive Council–Approved Travel
Under certain conditions specified in the Members' Remuneration and Pensions Act, Members who have received prior written approval from the Executive Council to act in accordance with the relevant sections of the Act, or who are Parliamentary Secretaries or members of various designated entities, may be reimbursed for actual travel costs in accordance with the regulations established by the Ministry of Finance.
Accompanying Person Travel
Each Member may designate up to 12 trips each fiscal year (April – March) for travel with an accompanying person. An accompanying person may be an individual of the Member's choosing, but is typically a family member. A constituency assistant or a legislative assistant also qualifies for accompanying-person travel; the travel of other caucus staff is paid for by caucus global funding. On occasion, there may be a business requirement for a constituent to travel in the capacity of accompanying person, such as an expert on a government issue who is required and/or invited to attend a meeting or an event at the Legislative Assembly.
The policy specifies that the accompanying person travels with the Member. Occasionally, there may be exceptions to this when a constituency assistant or a legislative assistant is required to attend work-related meetings. In all circumstances, costs for travel for the accompanying person must be reasonable and justifiable, and expenses limited to the time spent with the Member.
Accompanying-person travel can only be undertaken within the province and is typically to/from Victoria for special events such as House opening/closing, or when the House sits for extended periods of time. Accompanying-person travel does not apply to in-constituency travel.
The annual trip allotment for accompanying-person travel is non-transferable; trips cannot be shared with other MLAs. Remaining trips at fiscal year-end are not carried forward. In the event a Member exceeds the maximum 12 trips per fiscal year, costs may be covered by the constituency office allowance for constituency assistant or legislative assistant travel only. Additional travel with an accompanying person will be deemed a personal expense and costs will be paid by the Member.
An accompanying person can claim most out-of-pocket expenses related to travel. Typical expenses include air fare, ferry costs, mileage when using a private vehicle, bus, accommodations, parking, and taxis. A per diem reimbursement may also be claimed by a constituency assistant or a legislative assistant or individual (such as a constituent) to cover the cost of meals and incidental expenses for each day that qualifies as accompanying-person travel. A per diem reimbursement cannot be claimed by family members.
May 29, 2017