Like other provinces, Alberta MLAs receive a living allowance to cover the cost of establishing a temporary residence while in Edmonton on Legislature business. Coming from the private sector, I assumed the plan would reimburse MLAs for their actual costs up to a cap. But after getting elected in 2015 I was shocked to learn that MLAs received a flat $1,930 living allowance no matter how much it actually cost in rent.
This made no sense to me at any time, but especially when our province was (and still is) facing tough times. I proposed a simple solution – reimburse MLAs for the actual cost of their accommodation up to the cap.
It’s an idea that was strongly endorsed by commentators as the kind of sensible work Albertans should expect from opposition MLAs.
After nearly a year of work, I convinced all parties to support my motion to require MLAs to only claim up to the cap. It passed unanimously in March 2016.
I think it sets an example to all Alberta public servants that we expect everyone, everywhere in this very difficult time to do what we can to do more with less. That tone has to be set from the top.