A Progressive Conservative MPP who received thousands of dollars in child-care costs from their riding association says they believed it was “common practice” within the party to bill donors for personal expenses.
Global News spoke to one of the eight MPPS caught up in an expense scandal in which riding associations agreed to top up their taxpayer-funded salaries in the form of MPP allowances.
The MPP, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Global News they learned of the option from speaking to other Progressive Conservatives who gave them specific directions on how to receive the funds.
“Just talk to the local riding association to see if that was an option and people on the riding association felt comfortable doing (it),” the MPP was told.
The MPP believed it was “something that was generally known” within the PC caucus and said they were specifically told what could be charged to the constituency association.
“Essentially, if I was really hard up for child-care costs that you know, that was an option,” the now-former MPP said.
Ultimately, the politician discussed the costs with their constituency association, provided receipts and was reimbursed thousands of dollars for child-care fees after members of the riding “voted in favor of those expenses.”
Other PC MPPs, including three who served as cabinet ministers, received thousands of dollars in approved expenses from their riding associations between 2018 and 2021– paid for by party donors and subsidized by taxpayers through Elections Ontario.
PC Leader Doug Ford, who was forced to address the issue for the second day in a row, said he “wasn’t too happy” when he learned about the expenses but defended his MPPs.
“I’m assured there’s no rules broken,” Ford said during a campaign stop in Windsor on Friday. “Their expenses were audited, independently, they went through Elections Ontario – audited and approved.”
While Ford pledged to “review the rules and change them,” other parties urged the MPPs to return the funds they received from their riding associations — a combined total of $120,000.
“The NDP thinks the PCs don’t need the cash and the $120,000 should go to Ontario charities,” the party said in a statement.
The NDP and Liberals have vowed to review the province’s elections financing rules if elected in June.
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