B.C. Greens would get less money, more perks, with official party status
B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver. (bcgreens.ca)
VICTORIA — The B.C. Green party's demand for official party status in the legislature would actually leave it with less operational money for staff and research than if the three Green MLAs sat as independents.
Preliminary financial figures provided to Postmedia News by the B.C. legislature show that the Greens would receive a caucus budget of $262,500 if they were successful in their demands to be designated an official party in the legislature.
But if the three Green MLAs sat as independents, they would get a combined $525,000 annually.
That's because the legislature uses a funding formula for MLAs of $87,500 per member of an officially recognized party. The parties, like the NDP and Liberals, then pool that money to hire shared office, communications and research staff. Independent MLAs get $175,000, in recognition of the extra challenges they face working alone without any help from a party.
Green Leader Andrew Weaver has said obtaining official party status is one of his deal-breaker terms, as he negotiates whether to support the B.C. Liberals or NDP in a potential minority government.
“Party status is critical, party status is a means and ways that allow us to do our job," he said Wednesday. Weaver added there were logistical reasons too as part of the negotiations for support.
"We have to have party status," he said. "None of these parties is going to want to negotiate with three independents."
B.C.'s Constitution Act only gives official party status to groups with four or more MLAs. The Greens have three.
Despite providing less operational money, party status for the Greens would provide other significant perks.
A Green party would get a taxpayer-funded second office space in Vancouver, which is not available to independents. And the party would receive $25,000 in "caucus capital expenditures" compared to $6,000 for three combined independent MLAs.
Party status would come with extra pay on top of an MLA's base $105,882 salary — an additional $26,470 per year for Weaver as leader of a third party, and $10,588 for his MLAs who would obtain titles like house leader and party whip. The chair of the Green party would also get an additional $10,588.
The Greens would also get more time to ask questions in question period as a party, and, potentially, better recognition in parliamentary committees.
The Green party said Thursday it expects the amount of money to be part of its ongoing negotiations with other parties.
"Official party status is important for maintaining a stable minority government," the party said in a statement.
"The B.C. Green party needs to be able to interact with other parties as a caucus, rather than as three independent MLAs. We also need to ensure we have adequate resources to properly review government policy and legislation to ensure it is in the interest of British Columbians."