‘Disgusting abuse of taxpayer money’: UCP-appointed panel exceeds travel/accommodation budget by thousands

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Postmedia obtained correspondence about these claims ending Nov. 22 last year. It is unclear what expense claims were filed after that date.

In August last year, Jason Luan, associate minister of mental health and addictions, approved approximately $61,200 for travel and accommodation (including meals), $111,300 for town hall-related costs and $202,500 for honoraria, totalling $375,000.

Kassandra Kitz, press secretary to Luan, said the panel came under budget overall at $305,000. But she confirmed $72,000 was spent for travel and accommodation — $10,800 more than allocated.

Internal emails from August to November 2019 paint a picture of mounting frustration among civil servants, who reminded committee members multiple times about travel and expense policies, the need to eventually disclose expenses and “unreasonable” claims.

Some committee members seemingly ignored those warnings.

Kitz declined to comment on specific incidents called into question by provincial employees or confirm whether Luan was made aware of the concerns.

“We are processing your expense claims and have some feedback from our finance department that we would like to highlight for you. It is a gentle reminder that all expenses will be posted publicly,” stated an email to committee members on Sept. 30 last year.

“Our finance department is happy to process the current expenses but has flagged some expense items as being high. We will follow-up with individual emails of specific expense items that have been flagged, with the opportunity for you to opt for the per diem instead.”

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