Skip to main content Start of content
Photo of the Peace Tower

The House of Commons: Report to Canadians 2014

Report to Canadians 2014

Overview of the House


What Members of Parliament Do
 

For nearly 150 years, Members of Parliament have upheld the principles and practices of Canadian democracy, including representing the regional and local concerns of the citizens who elect them. Members consider and vote on draft legislation in the Chamber, attend committee and caucus meetings, and perform a wide range of duties in their constituency offices across the country. They also represent Canada when travelling abroad on official business or when hosting foreign dignitaries.

What the House of Commons Administration Does

The House Administration provides Members with services, infrastructure and advice to help them carry out their work on Parliament Hill and in their constituencies. This includes producing the House of Commons’ daily publications (in print and online), providing technological connectivity to Members, and ensuring the Parliamentary Precinct is secure and equipped to accommodate a number of different activities.


+

Chamber

The Chamber is where Members come together to debate issues of national importance, receive official documents tabled by government departments and agencies, and debate and vote on potential new laws. All of these activities are presided over by the Speaker of the House (or one of the Chair occupants).

Watch the video tour of the Chamber
Learn more about the history of the Chamber
Take an inside look at a typical working day in the Chamber

The House Administration produces the publications required for each sitting in the Chamber, provides advice on parliamentary procedure, compiles lists of Members who wish to speak during debates, and broadcasts Chamber proceedings on television and the Internet.

Watch Chamber proceedings online at ParlVU

+

Committees

In committees, Members conduct in-depth studies of issues that matter to Canadians. They study and amend proposed legislation, examine government spending, conduct inquiries, and receive input from experts and other citizens.

Read reports and studies currently being discussed in committees
Learn more about why committees are formed and what happens when they meet

The House Administration prepares notices and agendas in advance of committee meetings, distributes minutes after meetings, coordinates the production of committee reports, prepares workplans and makes arrangements for meetings. It also provides on-demand access to committee proceedings online.

Watch committee meetings online at ParlVU

+

Caucuses

Most Members of Parliament belong to a political party and as such are members of their party’s parliamentary caucus. Each caucus meets weekly to discuss policies, plan parliamentary strategy and develop party positions on issues being debated in the House of Commons. Held in private, caucus meetings allow Members to express their views and opinions freely without compromising party unity.

Learn more about the role of political parties in Canada’s Parliament

The House Administration works closely with executives and officers of each party to allocate caucus meeting space as well as parliamentary office space for Members.

View the list of caucus officers and executives of Canada’s political parties

+

Constituencies

Each of Canada’s 308 constituencies (also called ridings or electoral districts) elects a representative to the House of Commons—that constituency’s Member of Parliament. Each Member keeps an office and employs staff in his or her constituency to connect with the people there at any time—to discuss issues of concern, attend important community events, and help them access federal programs and services. Members typically spend one week a month in their ridings (and longer when the House is not sitting during the summer and winter adjournment periods).

Look up the address for your Member’s constituency office
Learn about the history of every federal electoral riding since Confederation

The House Administration supports Members’ constituency work by providing telephone lines and a high-speed Internet connection for their primary constituency offices, and by allocating office budgets and administering payroll services for staff employed by Members both in Ottawa and their constituencies.

+

International

Whether welcoming visitors to the House of Commons or participating in delegations to foreign legislatures and international conferences, Members of Parliament play an active role in parliamentary diplomacy including representing our country to the rest of the world. As part of their respective roles, the Speakers of the Senate and the House also liaise with foreign dignitaries and the diplomatic community; for example, by receiving courtesy calls from arriving and departing ambassadors to Canada.

Learn more about how Members represent Canada to the world

A joint partnership between the House Administration and the Senate, the International and Interparliamentary Affairs Directorate plans and coordinates parliamentary exchanges involving the Speakers of the Senate and the House as well as the activities of Canada’s parliamentary associations. It also provides support for all protocol functions (such as arranging visits by foreign heads of state to Canada) and is responsible for organizing conferences hosted by Parliament.

Overview of the House

With a mandate to provide impartial advice, services and support to Members of Parliament, the House of Commons Administration is guided by three core values:

Respect for the democratic process

The House Administration believes in the importance of parliamentary institutions and the democratic process, and works to foster and strengthen respect for them.

Commitment to balancing continuity and change

The House Administration preserves the collective memory of the House of Commons and its traditions while facilitating its evolution to keep pace with Canadian society, and ensures institutional continuity while supporting Members as their needs evolve.

Professional excellence

The House Administration works to provide effective, accountable and non-partisan support—acting ethically, responsibly and with integrity at all times.

The chart below outlines the governance structure of the House of Commons Administration. Click on an entity or service area to learn more about its specific roles and responsibilities.

The House of Commons Administration organizational chart shows, in a hierarchical format, the Board of Internal Economy, the Speaker and the Clerk followed by the six service areas: Parliamentary Precinct Services, Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, Procedural Services, Information Services, Finance Services and Human Resources Services.

Board of Internal Economy

Composed of Members from all recognized political parties, the Board of Internal Economy is responsible for all matters of financial and administrative policy affecting the House and its Members, premises, services and employees. It has the legal authority to make by-laws and to regulate the use of resources available to the House of Commons.

Learn more >

Speaker of the House of Commons

As Chair of the Board of Internal Economy, the Speaker is the head of the House Administration and is responsible for its overall direction and management. The Speaker’s administrative duties also involve ensuring that certain documents are published on behalf of the Board, including the Members’ Expenditures Report and the Report to Canadians.

Learn more >

Clerk of the House of Commons

As Secretary of the Board of Internal Economy, the Clerk is the chief executive of the House Administration and is responsible for the day-to-day management of House staff. The Clerk is responsible for maintaining records of the proceedings of the House, and all decisions made by the House must be authenticated by the Clerk’s signature.

Learn more >

Corporate Communications

The Corporate Communications team provides the Board of Internal Economy, the Speaker’s Office, the Clerk’s Office and all service areas with strategic advice, analysis, products, tools and support related to corporate communications, corporate branding, crisis communications and public outreach.

Internal Audit

As the House’s champion of good management practices, Internal Audit supports the House Administration’s mandate by providing objective and value-added assurance, risk management and advisory services on all strategic and management practices.

Procedural Services

Providing procedural and legislative advice to the Speaker of the House and Members, Procedural Services also offers support to committees, conducts research and offers training on parliamentary practice and procedure, and coordinates Members’ participation in international and interparliamentary activities.

Parliamentary Precinct Services

Parliamentary Precinct Services ensures the House is safe, secure, clean and equipped to accommodate a wide range of activities. It is also responsible for the long-term planning related to facility renovations as well as essential daily support activities such as food, transportation and delivery services.

Finance Services

Emphasizing sound financial management throughout all areas of the House, Finance Services provides advisory services and operational support in the areas of policy and financial planning, financial management, and materiel and contract management to the House Administration, Members of Parliament and their staff.

Information Services

Information Services plans, implements and maintains information technology and management services in both the House and in Members’ constituency offices. It also disseminates a variety of text, audio and video content for use during parliamentary events.

Human Resources Services

Led by the Chief Human Resources Officer, this service area provides operational support and advisory services in the areas of human resources and talent management, employee relations, occupational health and safety, organizational effectiveness, business continuity management and corporate strategic planning.

Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel

Offering comprehensive legal and legislative advice and services, the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel also has the ability to intervene in legal proceedings on behalf of the House and its Members to ensure their parliamentary privileges and immunities are protected.