This British Columbia NDP may have some self-reflection to do.
Specifically Mable Elmore, an NDP member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, and the parliamentary secretary for poverty reduction.
An article in the Vancouver Sun reports that in November of 2017, she voluntarily signed up for a welfare food challenge and agreed to attempt to live like those who are stranded on the poverty line.
Elmore agreed to spend $19 on food per week
Agreeing to live on $19 for one whole week, Elmore’s food allowance was later exposed by the Opposition Liberals during question period at the legislature.
It recorded her expenses to be a lavish $61 daily, for a total of four days. She has agreed to pay back the per-diem, which stood at $244 cumulatively – $225 over the original goal of $19.
The Liberals were able to make the discovery when they decided to match the tweets Elmore posted of her meals during the challenge with the publicly available food allowance reports.
The discovery was an embarrassment for Elmore, who spoke in the legislature last November about the continuous hardships faced when living in poverty.
Elmore said Wednesday that her staff automatically claimed her meal per diem, which is allowed as part of a capital city living allowance for MLAs in Victoria. She also signed off on the expenses personally.
Outlining a bigger problem?
The controversy may shed light on another growing issue.
In the past, there have been significant criticisms directed towards the MLA meal allowances, which are tax-free, require no receipts and no proof that the money was actually used for food.
Not long ago, the Canada Revenue Agency ruled that it will consider the $1,000 cash housing allowance paid to MLAs in Victoria as a taxable benefit on top of the base MLA salary, which stands at $108,105.
The Vancouver Sun notes that as parliamentary secretary, Elmore makes an additional $15,216 a year.