NDP calls for provincial government transparency for expenses

While members of the provincial cabinet have recently travelled around the world to promote trade and what Saskatchewan has to offer, the NDP says they have not been transparent as to how much these trips are costing the provincial taxpayer.

The NDP says they submitted Freedom of Information requests, but instead of receiving what they were after, they instead received cost estimates for the information. The NDP was quoted a $1,700 cost for the Premier’s expenses, while other cabinet ministers information would be available for $4,100.

Meili said he doesn’t know why the province needs that much money for financial details.

“In any other province, that isn’t the case, the $4,000 being asked for this information, I don’t see the rationale for that beyond just they want to make it more difficult for us,” Meili said. “The opposition obviously has a limited budget for FOI’s and other things, I guess they want to use that up so we don’t ask questions about other areas.”

Meili said there’s no extra work that would be done for the information the NDP is requesting.

“In Alberta, you just go on a website and it’s all loaded up there,” Meili said. “Those people are working, already calculating those receipts, there’s no extra work to just tell us what they are.”

Meili said he would like to see the province commit to being responsible with the people’s money and be transparent about what they spend.

“Whether it’s the lack of transparency around this, around the GTH, around the Brandt project in (Wascana) Park that should not be going forward, there’s been layer after layer of hiding behind every mechanism they can find, including over-charging for FOI’s to avoid the scrutiny of the public eye.”

Meili says he and the party would like to see the information they requested before the sitting of the spring Legislature, which starts in March.

Meanwhile, the provincial government responded to Ryan Meili’s calls for transparency, saying they are disappointed in the NDP’s claims.The statement, which was emailed to 620 CKRM from the province, claims Saskatchewan consistently reports out of province and total ministerial travel twice per year on the provincial government’s website.

The province goes on to say there has been a 53% reduction in travel expenses when compared to the NDP government of 2006-07, when the NDP did not provide public disclosure of out-of-province travel expenses.

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