Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning. In the estimates, there's a request for about $330 million for the Canadian Armed Forces pay increase. I wonder if you have a breakdown of how much of that is a retroactive lump sum payment and how much represents ongoing costs for higher wages.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
A little more than half are costs that year-to-year are going to be higher. Do those kinds of pay increases trigger cost-containment analysis on the part of Treasury Board or DND? When they're in a situation that they know they're going to be paying more going forward, does that trigger any kind of process where they start looking at other ways they might be able to pay less?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
The reason I ask is that there have been some cost-containment measures—I don't what else to call them—on the part of the Canadian Armed Forces in the news this week, about soldiers who participate in special operations and are paid a premium due to the nature of their work and the risks involved. The CAF has recently decided that those soldiers, when injured on the job, will have only six months to heal and get back to the job, and if they don't, then that portion of their salary will be eliminated, which heretofore was not the case.
Is there a connection between higher salaries, these salary increases, and the Canadian Armed Forces looking to reduce those costs for themselves, and as a result, having made that decision?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Am I understanding from you that the expenditure management branch of Treasury Board, when looking at different departments and seeing that they're going to have an increase in salaries going forward, doesn't have a dialogue with that branch of government to encourage them to take other measures, or talk to them about what measures they might take in order to contain those costs?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Have you had any conversations from Treasury Board with the Canadian Armed Forces about making a decision, for instance, to terminate a pay premium to certain soldiers after a certain time in order to contain costs, or is Treasury Board not involved in those discussions with departments on cost containment?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Would it be normal for Treasury Board to discuss those kinds of measures with a branch of government before a decision is made, or does that come as a surprise to you? Do you find out about it on the news, or is that a conversation you would have had with the Canadian Armed Forces or DND prior to that decision being made?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Is that the type of policy that the expenditure management branch of Treasury Board would be encouraging in other departments when that conversation is had, or is—
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Would the decision to terminate those benefits for injured soldiers after six months have been part of the discussion? Would that discussion happen at Treasury Board, or is that just internal to the CAF?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
I appreciate that it's within a framework, but presumably the ministers at Treasury Board have information on the entire framework. Would that have been included in the framework presented to Treasury Board on this item, or not?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This is just in the spirit of following up on some regional concerns in the Department of the Environment estimates where there's money for the Lake Winnipeg basin program components. I'm interested in getting a little more detail on what exactly.... There are three separate votes that together total close to $11 million. I'm just wondering if we have more detail or information on how exactly that money is going to be spent. Is it primarily on research, or are there action items that might help save the lake?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Even if you just want to follow up in writing, that would be fine. I know it's hard to find stuff in the binder on short notice.
There is another quick question I am curious about, and I maybe will talk a bit about it with the minister as well. There is money in the Administrative Tribunals Support Service for the RCMP. It says “to support the implementation of a new labour relation regime within the RCMP”. Can you explain exactly what the need for this funding is and how it's anticipated that this money will be spent?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Would that come largely out of trying to resolve disputes where they don't settle something at the table, or is that...?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, Minister.
I want to pick up on the conversation we had somewhat earlier about the injustice for the public sector involving Phoenix and what it means in terms of the government's delivering on its obligations to public servants under collective agreements. Thank you for your frank assessment of the failure of that system to do so.
Your government has chosen to carry through a decision of the Harper government to deem civilian members of the RCMP into the public service, and the deadline for that is early next year—sometime in the spring. One consequence of it, presumably, would be that those civilian members would then be transferred onto the Phoenix payroll system. Currently, they are on a well-functioning payroll system.
I wonder whether, given your remarks about the inadequacy of Phoenix to make good on our obligations to the public servants for doing good work, you could commit to not transferring those employees onto the Phoenix payroll system until the issues with the payroll system are resolved.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
But I think the question for these people, who currently are getting paid well and who are on a payroll system that works, is why they would be transferred onto a payroll system that by the government's own admission is really not working, and why the transfer of their payroll wouldn't be delayed until such time as the government can provide assurances that the payroll system will function.
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