Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs) have seen a substantial rise in their travel expenses, according to recent data. In the first half of 2023, MPs spent over $14.6 million on travel, a 10 per cent increase compared to the previous six months. This translates to a daily expense of around $80,000 of taxpayer money. The travel costs covered various expenditures such as airfare, ground transportation, accommodation, and meals for MPs, their families, and staff. On average, each MP spent more than $43,000 on work and travel between January and June 2023, amounting to over $7,200 per month.
The increase in travel is attributed to the lifting of travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. Between April 2022 and March 2023, travel spending totaled $27 million, a nine per cent increase compared to the pre-pandemic fiscal year. In the last six months of 2022 alone, $13.4 million was spent on travel.
It’s important to note that the publicly available data does not include the travel expenses of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet members when they travel on Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and government vehicles. The prime minister and his staff’s air travel costs for fuel and catering alone exceeded $1.5 million between May 4 and September 21, 2023.
Among the MPs, the opposition leaders incurred the highest travel expenses. Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre spent $247,819.15, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh expensed $177,500.18 in the first half of 2023.
Interestingly, only eight MPs, excluding party leaders, spent more than double the national average on travel during the same period. Among them were lawmakers representing remote and northern regions, as well as those from Edmonton, Vancouver, and Regina.
As for party-wise spending, the Conservatives led with over $6 million, followed closely by the Liberals with $5.6 million. The NDP spent over $1.5 million, but had the highest per-member travel costs at nearly $60,000, surpassing the national average by $16,000. The travel receipts for top-spending Liberals were Ron McKinnon at $95,987.51 and Wilson Miao at $91,769.07.
The travel expenses of MPs from the same city varied significantly. In Edmonton, for example, the expenses ranged from $36,042.97 to $130,012.27. The highest spender, MP Tim Uppal, attributed his travel costs to his role as Deputy Leader of Canada’s Conservatives, which requires attending meetings and events in different cities.
1. Why have Canadian MPs seen an increase in travel expenses?
Canadian MPs have experienced a surge in travel expenses due to the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions, allowing them to resume their work-related and constituency travel.
2. Who incurred the highest travel expenses among MPs?
The highest travel expenses were incurred by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the first half of 2023.
3. Which party had the highest per-member travel costs?
The NDP had the highest per-member travel costs, exceeding the national average by $16,000.
4. Were Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s travel expenses included in the reported data?
No, the reported data does not include the travel expenses of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and cabinet members when they travel on Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and government vehicles.
5. Why did MP Tim Uppal have significantly higher travel expenses than other Edmonton MPs?
MP Tim Uppal’s higher travel expenses were justified by his role as Deputy Leader of Canada’s Conservatives, which required him to attend meetings and events in various cities.