As elected officials, Members of the Legislative Assembly 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 Member 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarterly information on Members’ travel expenses is disclosed publicly on the Legislative Assembly website. This disclosure fulfils a commitment made by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee 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.
The quarterly disclosure report contains totals, by Member, for the following expense categories: Capital City Allowance, Members’ Travel Expense Allowance, In-Province Travel, Accompanying Person Travel, and Out-of-Province/Country Travel.
Summary reports of parliamentary committees Members’ travel expenses are also released quarterly.
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 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 are strongly encouraged to use a travel card (further outlined below) for their travel and may claim reasonable and actual expenses within the parameters of Legislative Assembly policy.
Click here for a table that 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.
A Member of the Legislative Assembly on travel status outside of their constituency (or within their constituency if the condition outlined below is met) may claim a per diem reimbursement at the following rates:
|Breakfast & Lunch Only||$39.50|
|Lunch & Dinner Only||$48.50|
|Breakfast & Dinner Only||$48.50|
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.
When traveling within the province on official business, Members are encouraged to use the provincial government’s Business Travel Accommodation Listing. This helps ensure that Members are able to locate reputable establishments with pre-established competitive provincial government rates in all parts of the province.
If a Member is on travel status but opts to stay in private lodging, the Member may claim an accommodation expense of $32.93 per night.
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 processing 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:
- Cardholder reports a lost or stolen card.
- Client Contact Centre takes the cardholder’s details.
- Client Contact Centre closes the account.
- The account is transferred to a new account.
- Client Contact Centre will arrange for a replacement card to be issued once authorization has been received by Financial Services.
- BMO works with cardholder to verify authorized charges.
Alternatively, a Member can contact Financial Services at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a 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:
- 1-800-263-2263 toll-free in Canada and the U.S.
- 1-514-877-0330 worldwide collect call for emergency services
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.
Click here for Frequently Asked Questions on the MLA Travel Card.
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 online system is accessed through a web portal using an assigned user ID and password. Members will be provided with full instructions on using the online travel system once the system administrator has completed the initial set up. The system 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 at their constituency, where they can review the claim, sign it, and send it back to Financial Services. Alternatively, Members can access the claim online, 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 are required to be submitted for reimbursement at least once a week when the Legislative Assembly is in a sitting period, and at least once every two weeks when the Legislative Assembly is not sitting.
The online travel form requires the following information about Member travel:
Travel Claim Form Checklist
- Member’s name and the name of any accompanying person(s).
- Travel dates and/or dates for per diem claims.
- Destination(s) (from/to).
- Method of travel (air, car rental, ferry).
- Trip details/description.
- Details of reimbursable expenses (mileage, parking, taxi, etc.) and copies of receipts are required. Mileage expenses must include a clear description of each individual trip, including starting location and ending destination, to be eligible for reimbursement.
- Member’s original signature (stamped signatures or original signatures on a blank form will not be accepted).
- Name of the individual who prepared the travel claim.
Members appointed to select standing or special committees of the Legislative Assembly and those serving on the Legislative Assembly Management Committee may claim travel and all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with attendance at parliamentary committee meetings, within the parameters of Legislative Assembly policies. Committee travel is a separate category of work-related travel.
- For parliamentary committee meetings held in Victoria when the Legislative Assembly is not sitting, a Member may claim related travel costs and per diems, as applicable.
- For parliamentary committee meetings held outside of Victoria, a Member may claim accommodation and travel (including air fare, taxis, and mileage when using a private vehicle) parking, and per diems, as applicable.
- In the case of committee meetings held within a Member’s constituency, a Member may claim travel-related costs and per diems, as applicable.
Members are required to submit a travel claim form, with receipts, to the Parliamentary Committees Office. The forms are reviewed and approved by the 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 and other Speaker-approved 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: airfare; 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 parliamentary 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 Information Technology Department Service Desk (email@example.com) to purchase international roaming packages before their trip, and to use Wi-Fi 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 U.S. 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 Member with mobility restrictions in the discharge of duties assigned by the Speaker may have their expenses reimbursed. Specifically, a personal attendant will be reimbursed for travel expenses not to exceed those set by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee. The spouse of a Member with mobility restrictions 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 Member with mobility restrictions, are not reimbursable.
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.
Each Member may designate up to 12 trips each fiscal year (April to 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 (or another designated caucus position in a caucus where the position of Legislative Assistant does not exist) 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’s travel must overlap significantly with that of the Member. Occasionally, there may be exceptions to this when a Constituency Assistant or a Legislative Assistant (or, as noted above, another designated caucus position in a caucus where the position of Legislative Assistant does not exist) is required to attend work-related meetings or when a Member’s designated traveler is required to travel independently of the Member in the case of a serious medical emergency affecting the Member. A serious medical emergency is defined as a sudden and unexpected injury or condition that poses an immediate threat to a Member’s health or life which requires medical intervention.
Accompanying person travel can only be undertaken within the province and is typically to/from Victoria for special events such as the opening or closing of a Session of Parliament, or when the Legislative Assembly 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 that 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 must 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.