Canadian Senators’ Expenses Being Reviewed

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The centre block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa where the senators pass laws. Image: Johnycanal

The centre block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa where the senators pass laws. Image: Johnycanal

Senators are people who are chosen to help make the laws in Canada.

But right now, some of the senators are getting attention because of money they are spending on travel, and on apartments or houses to live in while they sit in the Senate in Ottawa, Ont., Canada’s capital city.

Senators can get as much as $22,000 each year from Canadians (through the taxes Canadians pay) for their living expenses, as long as their main residence is at least 100 kilometres away from Ottawa.

But people say that some of the senators are claiming money to pay for their homes even though they are not living in them when they claim to be.

In other cases, people say the homes that are being paid for by Canadians are the main place of residence, or where the senators live most of the time — not just when they have to help make laws in the Senate.

If that is the case, these people say, the senators should be paying the cost themselves.

The senators who are being questioned about whether Canadians should be paying their housing and travel expenses include former TV news personalities Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy.

There has been similar controversy around the Senate before. Unlike the Members of Parliament (MPs) from across Canada who help make the country’s laws, senators are not elected by Canadians through votes. They are appointed to their positions by the Prime Minister.

The most recent controversy over living expenses has led to a plan to review all spending rules for Senators.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
What is your opinion regarding this controversy? Do you think senators are entitled to have their living and travel costs paid for, or do you think they should pay for some of their own expenses?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
Read this article twice and try to summarize it in one sentence. Once you write a one-sentence summary, add three additional sentences that contain details and background information that support your first sentence.

Junior
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Intermediate
Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Grammar Feature: Abbreviations of Places
When we write places – including provinces, states and countries – we often shorten the name into an abbreviation. An abbreviation is a shortened word, such as Ont. for Ontario.

What are the abbreviations of the following places?
1. United States
2. England
3. New Zealand
4. South Africa
5. Canada
6. Denmark
7. Mexico
8. United Arab Emirates
9. Argentina
10. Egypt