Report of the committee
Thursday, March 9, 2017
The Subcommittee on the Senate Estimates of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its
On February 2, 2017, your subcommittee was given the mandate by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration to study the issue of living expenses while in Ottawa, including the current practices and possible replacement models that consider fairness, equity and responsible use of resources.
During its deliberations, the subcommittee noted that senators are required to maintain a residence in their home province or territory. In contrast, members of the House of Commons are not subject to this constitutional requirement. Senators incur living expenses to perform their duties while in Ottawa. The current model is for the reimbursement of expenses up to $24,000 with the appropriate supporting documentation.
Your subcommittee has determined that senators either stay in commercial hotels, rental or privately owned accommodation in the National Capital Region (NCR). The cost of accommodations in hotels and rents are reimbursed by the Senate with appropriate receipts. Senators who use a privately owned accommodation in the NCR may claim $30.92 per day to assist with general expenses for each day such accommodation is available for the senator’s occupancy. All senators may claim a daily per diem rate for meals and incidentals in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines.
Three possible models were examined by the subcommittee.
1. Reimbursement of expenses (with ceiling of $24,000) which is the current model;
2. Living allowance per diem model;
3. Quarterly allowance model.
Each model was reviewed and the subcommittee is recommending that the current model of the reimbursement of expenses remains in place.
In its review, the subcommittee discussed the inequality between senators who own a property and those who rent or stay in commercial hotels. It was determined that the current amount is insufficient for general expenses compared to individuals who rent. The subcommittee concluded that the inequities for those who own must be addressed.
The daily amount for senators who own a privately owned accommodation was first introduced when the Non-Taxable Expense Allowance was combined into the salary of senators in 2001. The subcommittee examined the origin of the initial amount which was $20 per day and found that there was no detailed analysis as to the costing of privately owned accommodation.
Your subcommittee examined the daily allowance for private accommodation used by the Treasury Board. The board reimburses $50 per day for federal employees who use private non-commercial accommodation in lieu of a hotel room while traveling. This amount per day is for the length of the time while on travel status. Senators return to their provincial or territorial residence when not in Ottawa and the use of the Treasury Board rate is not applicable since the stay in the NCR is not continuous. However, it does serve as a useful guide.
To ensure a fair application of the policy across the three types of accommodation expenses, the subcommittee recommends the following:
That the per day rate for senators who use a privately owned accommodation in the National Capital Region be increased to $40 and increase on April 1 by the annual rate of inflation, starting on April 1, 2018.
The subcommittee further recommends that the $24,000 increase on April 1 by the annual rate of inflation, starting on April 1, 2017.
DAVID M. WELLS