The House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) can study and report to the House of Commons on the following matters:
The Committee is also empowered to study and report on the mandate, management and operations of the following agencies and Crown corporations:
The Committee also has the specific mandate to propose, promote, monitor and assess initiatives which are aimed at the integration and equality of disabled persons in all sectors of Canadian society.
The Committee is also responsible for administering the award provided under the Centennial Flame Research Award Act, enacted in 1991 to provide an annual monetary award to a Canadian with a disability to research and produce a report aimed at publicizing the contributions to public life of persons with disabilities. The award consists of money collected from the Centennial Flame fountain on Parliament Hill. Those interested in more information on this award may contact the Clerk of the Committee.
Under Standing Order 108(1), standing committees may examine any matters referred to them by the House of Commons and may delegate to subcommittees all or any of their powers, except the power to report directly to the House.
The work of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) has evolved over the years.
Evolution of the Committee
The mandate and the name of the Committee have changed several times in 20 years, reflecting changes to the mandate and name of the Department with which the Committee deals.
On 12 December 2003, the government announced that it would split Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) into two new departments – Social Development Canada (SDC) and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). SDC became responsible for income security and other social programs for seniors, families and children, and persons with disabilities that were formerly delivered through HRDC. HRSDC became responsible for promoting a well-functioning labour market and lifelong learning systems. The legislation creating these departments was examined by the Committee and passed in the 38th Parliament.
On 6 February 2006, the government announced the reconsolidation of HRSDC and SDC under the name Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
In October 2008, HRSDC went back to the name of one of the two departments consolidated to form it: the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.
In July 2013, it was announced that the Department would be renamed Employment and Social Development Canada.
In November 1998, the Committee created a Subcommittee on Children and Youth at Risk, whose work ended on October 2003, and a Subcommittee on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, whose work continued to November 2005. During the 38th Parliament (2004-2005), a Subcommittee on the Employment Insurance Funds was briefly formed. At the beginning of each new session, the Committee establishes the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure to study the Committee’s agenda and future work.
In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, an analyst and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. All of these individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs his or her duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee and as such will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. He or she is also responsible to invite witnesses and to deal with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for, in particular, the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committees’ website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of committees.
The Library of Parliament’s analysts provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the Committee. They are part of the Committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analyst works individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the Committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED
Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Parliamentary Counsel (Legislation) are available to assist Members who are not in Cabinet in the preparation of private Members’ bills or of amendments to Government bills or others.
At various stages of the legislative process, Members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the Committee Stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the Report Stage, once a bill returns to the House.
Once bill is sent to Committee, the clerk of the Committee provides the name of the Parliamentary Counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the Members.
The legislative clerk serves all members of the Committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from Members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to Committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee concerning any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide Members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of Report Stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the Members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has a mandate to support Parliament and parliamentarians in holding the government to account for the good stewardship of public resources. The Federal Accountability Act of 2006 mandates the PBO to provide independent analysis to the Senate and to the House of Commons regarding the state of the nation’s finances, the government estimates and trends in the national economy.
The enabling legislation also provides the PBO with a mandate to provide analytical support to any committee during its consideration of the estimates, as well as provide advice to any Member of Parliament regarding the financial cost of proposals.
Further information on the PBO may be found at: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/
The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the Committee) has undertaken and tabled studies on numerous topics that fall under its mandate.
In June 2015, the Committee tabled a report entitled Exploring the Potential of Social Finance in Canada. Increasingly, governments are showing interest in partnering with the private sector to achieve improved social outcomes and financial returns. The Committee heard examples of social finance projects which seek to increase literacy skills, help youth, employ individuals who face barriers and house single mothers and their children, amongst others.
The report identified challenges to the development of the social finance market, such as policy and regulatory obstacles to the revenue-generating activities of charities and non-profits, the difficult task of measuring complex social outcomes, and the notion that some smaller organizations may not be equipped to measure social change on a large scale or to take on substantial investments.
The Committee’s report made nine recommendations aiming to strengthen the foundation for this emerging market. They include creating an advisory panel involving actors from multiple sectors to define a national strategy on social finance, reviewing legislative, regulatory and policy measures applicable to the profit-generating activities of charities and non-profits, as well as the creation of national guidelines for measuring social impact.
Further, recognizing the importance of a vibrant and skilled workforce to Canada’s economy, the Committee examined issues related to an ageing workforce, as well as skills acquisition and development for other vulnerable groups who experience difficulty entering the labour market. The Committee tabled the following six reports over two years:
Witnesses appearing before the Committee throughout these studies reiterated the importance of reliable labour market information. In a context of skills and geographic mismatches, as well as skills shortages in certain sectors and regions of the country, the previous studies targeting specific populations culminated into a broader study of the Renewal of the Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDA) in 2015. The LMDA report provided recommendations for improving the new generation of LMDAs, including performance measurement and reporting, the collection and sharing of labour market information, expanding access to employment benefits funded by the LMDAs, and reaching unemployed individuals quickly after the loss of employment.
Other previous studies from the Committee include the following:
Furthermore, the Committee has studied several private member’s and government bills. This process involves a clause-by-clause examination of proposed bills, as well as public hearings where witnesses are invited to discuss the bills. The Committee studies subject matter included in budget implementation bills that are relevant to its mandate. In addition, government and private member’s bills that were recently referred to and studied by the Committee include the following:
The Committee also studies Main Estimates, which outline the financial resources required by the departments and agencies under the Committee’s mandate for the coming fiscal year. The Committee has recently studied the Main Estimates for Employment and Social Development Canada, as well as the Canada Industrial Relations Board, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, and the National Capital Commission.
Each year since 1992, according to the Centennial Flame Research Award Act, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities grants the Centennial Flame Research Award. This Award is offered to a person with a disability to enable him or her to conduct research and prepare a report on the contribution of one or more Canadians with disabilities to the public life of Canada or the activities of Parliament. The award is composed of money collected from the fountain, plus any private and corporate donations made to the Centennial Flame Research Award Fund.
The recipient of the 2014 Centennial Flame Research Award was Ms. Selma Kouidri, whose research proposed to explore the legacy of Maria Barile, a woman who lived with a disability and a pioneer of the disability movement.
For all questions about the Centennial Flame Research Award, please contact the Clerk of the Committee at 613-996-1542 or by email at HUMA@parl.gc.ca.