Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find many members willing to share the details of their spending plan. Until, that is, we got a call from New Democrat MP Peter Julian â€” who was one of the 20 MPs who spent the full $28,000 allowance last year â€” who was only too happy to explain how he used that money.
Julian spent just more than $14,000 on rent and cable for his Ottawa-area residence. The remaining money from his allowance went to defray expenses incurred while on the road, he told the Ottawa Citizen â€“ including between $7,000 and $7,500 that were used to support his ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the disability tax credit. He travels across the country to hold hold open house-style information sessions about the credit.
â€œThis is a disability tax credit that the Conservatives announced,â€� he notes. â€œA few years ago, they actually stopped sending Revenue Canada people out to tell families that have a person whoâ€™s disabled about the credit.â€�
As a result, he says, â€œmost of the families who could benefit from this tax credit donâ€™t even know it exists, and the government actually doesnâ€™t do anything to help these families apply for money that the government owes them.â€�
One family coming out of that presentation can collect as much as $13,000 retroactively, he says.
â€œWeâ€™re talking about some of the poorest families in the country,â€� he says. â€œWe usually get 150 to 200 people out in public meetings.
â€œThese families suddenly understand how to apply it â€¦ you can imagine what a difference this makes in their lives.â€�
He says he does between 50 and 60 presentations a year â€“ mostly, but not exclusively in ridings held by New Democrat MPs.
â€œI drive myself, I stay in cheap motels,â€� he notes.
Even after using his travel budget to subsidize some of the costs, he says he spends between $8 â€“ 9,000 out of his own pocket.
â€œI just feel so strongly about this.â€�