The Ontario government will introduce legislation Tuesday to tighten housing allowance rules after a Toronto-area MPP billed taxpayers for his second home.
Under the proposed law, only MPPs who represent ridings more than 50 kilometres from Queen’s Park will be eligible for housing compensation to rent an apartment in Toronto.
The current rules allow MPPs who live more than 50 kilometres from the legislature to claim the funds, even if their constituencies are within the radius.
“The spirit of the rule is clear, but sometimes the good intentions of lawmakers do not translate easily into the laws that they create,” Government House Leader John Milloy said outside his Queen’s Park office Tuesday. “There are perhaps some unanticipated consequences.”
The Globe and Mail revealed last month that Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman received $20,719 in public funds last year to help pay for his apartment in Toronto. Mr. Shurman represents Thornhill, a riding roughly half an hour’s drive from the legislature. But he qualified for the money because he claimed his primary residence as a house in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., about 130 kilometres from Queen’s Park.
Mr. Shurman agreed to stop receiving the funds. But he would not repay the money, prompting Tory Leader Tim Hudak to strip him of his portfolio as finance critic and demote him to the backbench.
Mr. Milloy said the Liberals are hoping the opposition parties will help them get the legislation passed quickly. He said both the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats are in favour of the law, at least in principle.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said earlier in the day that her party would have to study the wording of the bill first, before deciding whether to support it.
Under the rules, MPPs would still have to live more than 50 kilometres from Queen’s Park to claim the allowance. Members whose ridings straddle the 50 kilometre radius are eligible.
The rule change would affect 33 of 107 MPPs.