A change in access to information laws prevents the Department of Finance from singling out precisely who still owes how much money stemming from the 2006 MHA constituency allowance spending scandal that rocked the House of Assembly.
The department could only identify the people as Individual A through D in their response to inquiries by The Telegram. Section 40 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy 2015 Act (ATIPPA) prohibits the release of a third party’s personal information, including the release of names and other information.
In 2013, The Telegram reported the names and amounts owed by each individual who was involved in the MHA constituency allowance spending scandal, which saw government seek more than $3 million in repayments from former MHAs Ed Byrne, Wally Andersen, Randy Collins, Jim Walsh and Percy Barrett, as well as from businessmen Bill Murray and John Hand.
After almost 13 years, the government still has $2.6 million left to collect, from four of the individuals.
Barrett, who did not face criminal charges from the scandal, has fully repaid the $72,245 in constituency allowance overspending stemming from the scandal. Wally Andersen also repaid the $243,184 for his part in the scandal.
Since The Telegram filed its initial request, another of the four with remaining outstanding balances has repaid the full amount owing, which will show in the coming provincial budget.
Another individual following the repayment plan is expected to have the final balance repaid in the next five to six years.
A statement of claim from the government was filed against another of the individuals, with the resulting judgment allowing the government to take money from the person’s assets. According to a Department of Finance official, in 2011 the government obtained $40,000 from the person as the result of a sale of property.
The final person with balances still outstanding has since died, meaning the government has to figure out what to do to recover the balance owing. The Department of Justice is reviewing that case to determine what options it has to get the money back into the provincial coffers.
— With files from Ashley Fitzpatrick