Alberta premier’s office spent same amount as Alison Redford’s staff

Rachel Notley spent less on travel, expenditures mostly staff relocation, setting up new government

By Michelle Bellefontaine

Premier Rachel Notley’s office spent nearly $340,000 last year, an amount that matches the spending under former Premier Alison Redford.

According to documents posted online, Notley and her staff spent $339,348.64 in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Redford spent $340,555.67 and $323,243.21 in her last two years in office.

The documents break down spending for Notley and staff in the premier’s office into three categories: meals, accommodations, and travel; hospitality and working sessions; and goods, supplies and services and other expenses.

Unlike Redford, who was criticized for her high travel expenses, the category with the highest spending under Notley is $229,424.86 for goods, supplies and services and other items.

Notley’s communications director, Cheryl Oates, said the expenses are related to the change of government, including new phones, computers, and office supplies.

Included in that total is the $80,077 cost of moving new staff to Canada. The Notley government has been criticized for hiring NDP loyalists from outside Canada.

“We expect next year’s expenses to be lower,” Oates said in an email to CBC News.

“We are very conscious of every dollar our government is spending and have taken measures to cut back on expenses, including mandating that cabinet ministers fly economy class.”

spending in the premier's office

Canada’s fiscal year goes from April 1 to March 31. Notley was sworn-in as premier on May 24, 2015. Expenses for the premier’s office were $409.68 in April 2015 and $2,389.32 in May 2015.

Travel expenses for staff in Notley’s office are much lower than under Redford. She and her staff spent $97,383.97 last year.

CBC News reviewed the expenses for airfare, hotels and meals incurred by Notley and her staff that have been posted online. Nothing appears to be extravagant.

The chilling effect of the excesses of the Redford era can be seen in the expenses for the premier’s office the year following her resignation.

The office spent $170,356.51 in the fiscal 2014-15 year. Dave Hancock served as interim premier from March 2014, when Redford resigned, until October 2014, when Jim Prentice was sworn in.

Hancock remained minister of advanced education during that period, so his expenses were partly covered by that department, Oates said.

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