THURSDAY, February 28 th, 2013
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
has the honour to present its
This report concerns the payment of allowances to senators whose primary residence is more than 100 kilometers from Parliament Hill.
The Internal Economy Committee is responsible for the payment of expenses incurred by senators while they are doing their job. It is neither in our mandate nor our jurisdiction to make any findings on the constitutional question of residency. There has been some confusion on this matter. In the history of the Senate, the declaration of primary residence is a rather recent administrative form and applies only to the question of submitting expenses.
On June 18, 1998, the Senate adopted a policy that provides that senators who come to Ottawa to carry out their parliamentary functions, and who are more than 100 kilometers from their registered primary residence, are on travel status in Ottawa and may be reimbursed for eligible living expenses in the National Capital Region. This policy followed the recommendation of the 1998 Blais Commission to Review Allowances of Members of Parliament. It was patterned after a similar policy adopted by the House of Commons. The budget set for this purpose for 2012-13 is $22,000.
In December 2012, it was determined that there were three senators whose use of secondary residence expenses required review. With the approval of the Internal Economy Committee, the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure (Steering Committee), referred the claims of one senator to Deloitte. A Special Subcommittee of the Internal Economy Committee chaired by Senator Beth Marshall referred the claims of two other senators to Deloitte as well.
Subsequently, to establish primary residency all senators were asked to submit copies of three documents: a driver’s license; a provincial health card; and relevant information on their income tax return, together with a signed statement of where they vote. Senators’ travel patterns to their residences were also reviewed. It was felt that these five criteria would provide the Internal Economy Committee with the information necessary to establish a senator’s primary residence. Providing a senator has to travel more than 100 km from the NCR to their primary residence, he or she is eligible to claim a secondary residence. The results of the review of the documentation that was submitted is as follows:
- All 98 senators responded to the request for information. There were five vacancies and two pending retirements when the requests were sent.
- The Steering Committee of the Internal Economy Committee agreed that if a senator met all four indicators supported by travel documentation they were deemed to have been interviewed. This resulted in two Senators being interviewed, Senator Zimmer and Senator Patterson. Both explained to the complete satisfaction of the interviewers that their travel claims were in order.
- As a result of this process no other Senators were referred to external auditors.
- It should be noted that the travel claims of a fourth senator were referred to an external auditor. This was not part of this review.
In order to improve stewardship of Senate operations with respect to primary and secondary declarations, your Committee makes the following recommendations:
- That accompanying their primary residence declaration each senator furnish a driver’s licence, a health card and the relevant page of their income tax form each and every time the declaration is signed. This declaration is signed annually for the purpose of claiming living expenses in the NCR.
- that the Internal Economy Committee instruct management to standardize terminology in the Senate’s policy instruments;
- that the Senators’ Travel Policy be reviewed to comply with primary residence declarations.