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The House of Commons: Report to Canadians 2011

Our House is Always Ready for Business

Photo of interior of the Chamber

Whether carrying out the time-honoured practices of a parliamentary session, laying the groundwork to support the kind of change brought by a general election, or ensuring that first responders are fully prepared to act at a moment’s notice in the case of an unexpected event, the House Administration and its partners work closely together to make sure all the right pieces are in place.

Prepared to Serve

One of the main priorities of the House Administration is ensuring on behalf of all Canadians that Parliament can always function—a key element of which is seeing that everyone with a role to play has some understanding of parliamentary procedure. In 2010–2011, the House Administration held numerous information and training sessions for Members and their staff as well as for public service employees, university students, House Administration employees and the new Procedural Clerks of the House.

A general election can change the makeup of the House of Commons significantly, increasing the need for this type of initiation to practices and procedures. The House Administration has to be ready at all times to support the transition from one Parliament to the next. Last year, the Members’ Orientation and Election Readiness Program reviewed lessons learned from previous elections and enhanced the ways it delivers administrative, financial and procedural information and services to Members—which proved timely when Parliament was dissolved on March 26, 2011 and Canadians prepared to go to the polls.

Expecting the Unexpected

In addition to informing Members and others about the workings of the House, the House Administration has the responsibility to keep everyone within the Parliamentary Precinct safe and secure. A number of immediate priorities were identified on this front in 2010–2011 as part of ongoing work on the House of Commons Master Security Plan—an initiative to centralize the planning, development and delivery of security services. Specific activities included maintaining the joint Master Security Planning Office and establishing an information-sharing agreement with security partners such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Simulations were staged to allow security forces to practice their response to unforeseen events, security policies and standards were reviewed, and business, design and procurement requirements were set for an interim vehicle screening facility to be established during Phase One of the Long Term Vision and Plan.

In Committees — Highlights from 2010–2011

In committees, Members of Parliament investigate the issues that matter to Canadians by studying proposed legislation, examining departmental spending, conducting inquiries, and receiving input from citizens and experts.

Several kinds of committees exist to advance parliamentary business: standing committees; special committees focused on particular issues; legislative committees, which review bills; joint committees, which include Members of both the Senate and the House; and subcommittees, which are created by other types of committees. Last year there were:

  • 24 standing committees
  • 1 special committee
  • 2 legislative committees
  • 2 joint committees
  • 3 subcommittees

Members took part in 1,400 committee meetings during the 2010–2011 fiscal year, hearing testimony from 4,755 witnesses and generating 230 reports. Due to their small size (an average of 12 members), committees provide an excellent opportunity for in-depth discussions on a variety of topics. In 2010–2011, these topics included:

  • Privacy implications of street-level imaging applications (such as online maps that show photos of houses and other buildings)
  • Retirement income security
  • Recruitment and retention in the Canadian Forces
  • Violence against Aboriginal women
  • Competitiveness of Canadian agriculture
  • Accessibility and affordability of food in Northern Canada
  • Future of medical isotope production and research in Canada
  • Health human resources challenges
Photo of Chantal Goulet, employee of the House of Commons

“Every day I’m proud of the work I accomplish, the people I work with and the democratic institution I belong to. At committee meetings, it’s wonderful to witness various political parties working together to ensure the needs and interests of Canadians are brought forward.”

– Chantal Goulet
Logistics Officer
Committees and Legislative Services Directorate
Procedural Services

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