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The House of Commons: Report to Canadians 2014

Report to Canadians 2014

Performance Review

Strategic Objective 1

To respond to the changing needs of Members and the institution
  • Improve the availability of up-to-date information on parliamentary procedures and rules
  • Enhance Members’ and Canadians’ access to parliamentary information
Compiling key procedural decisions delivered by Speaker Milliken and his fellow Chair occupants
The proceedings of the House of Commons are regulated by a vast body of rules and practices, not all of which are written into the Standing Orders. The rulings made by the Speaker of the House help inform future proceedings by adding weight to an established precedent or interpreting practice in a new context. Collections of the most significant rulings have been assembled at the close of each Speaker’s tenure since the 1970s.

The book containing the rulings of former Speaker Peter Milliken was officially tabled in the House of Commons on February 2, 2014.

Enhancing the online versions of the Debates and the Evidence
The House of Commons Debates (also known as Hansard) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings that take place in the House of Commons. Available in both official languages the day after the House sits, it is produced directly from an audio recording of the proceedings as well as information provided by staff stationed on the Chamber floor.

The Evidence is the edited verbatim report of committee proceedings and includes both remarks made by committee members and those made by witnesses. The Evidence is published only for public meetings or for those parts of a meeting that are held in public.

In 2013–2014, a number of tools were added to help users explore the online versions of each publication, including Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds and a collapsible sidebar that allows content to be filtered by Member, witness and discussed topic. Users also now have the ability to view topics alphabetically, by frequency of occurrence and by order of business.

Publishing a third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice
In an institution as dynamic as the House of Commons, parliamentary practice is constantly evolving. The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which documents parliamentary procedure since Confederation, was published in 2009. Since then, a number of new practices and precedents have been established—making it necessary to once again prepare a revised edition.

Drafting of most of the updated chapters is now underway. The third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice is scheduled for completion and publication in 2017–2018.

Providing secure mobile access to committee documents
In fall 2013, a pilot project was conducted with two standing committees to determine if it was possible to provide committee members with timely, secure access to committee documents on their mobile devices—with the goal being to reduce the use of printed materials during committee meetings while also giving committee members the ability to prepare for their meetings anytime, anywhere.

Based on the initial success of the pilot, the program was extended to another four standing committees as well as the Liaison Committee. A second pilot involving these same committees will take place in September 2014, after which final recommendations will be prepared for the Liaison Committee.

Improving the management and delivery of parliamentary information
The House of Commons Administration, the Senate and the Library of Parliament continued to explore opportunities for improving their approach to the creation, management, dissemination and conservation of parliamentary information. Specifically, steps were taken to establish a parliamentary working group to review the publishing standards and guidelines, and to create a standardized look and feel for all parliamentary Web sites.

Strategic Objective 2

To enhance ongoing services to Members and sustain the institution
  • Advance the Long Term Vision and Plan to rehabilitate heritage buildings and grounds, and provide additional parliamentary accommodations
  • Maintain the flexibility of our technology infrastructure
  • Strengthen the guardianship of the institution
Rehabilitating heritage buildings in the Parliamentary Precinct
As part of the ongoing work under the Long Term Vision and Plan, construction requirements pertaining to the rehabilitation of the West Block, the Sir John A. Macdonald Building (formerly the Bank of Montreal Building) and the Wellington Building continued to be developed and reviewed to ensure the project’s successful implementation.

The West Block and Wellington Building will accommodate functions from the Centre Block during its renovation by providing space for the interim Chamber, committee rooms and parliamentary offices. The Sir John A. Macdonald Building will permanently accommodate the special parliamentary events previously held in the West Block.

As construction progresses, occupancy plans have been developed for both the Sir John A. Macdonald Building and the Wellington Building to facilitate the ‘move-in’ into these buildings in April 2015 and September 2016, respectively.

Planning for the renovation of the Centre Block was also initiated, starting with the development of a statement of functional requirements.

Developing a strategy to accommodate 30 additional Members
With the number of Members set to increase from 308 to 338 during the next federal election, work began on a strategy to accommodate more Members in the Chamber and steps were taken to implement the accommodation strategy for Members’ offices. Research was also conducted to identify the impact these additional Members will have on the services provided by the House Administration.
Developing a new business continuity management program
As part of the development of the House’s new business continuity management program, business impact analyses were received from all service areas and initial vetting has occurred. The final function prioritization list will be submitted to the Clerk in September 2014.

Strategic Objective 3

To promote understanding and support the advancement of legislative institutions
  • Enhance learning opportunities for parliamentarians and legislative officials from jurisdictions in Canada and abroad
  • Increase public awareness and sustain the independence and traditions of the House of Commons
Hosting the conferences of national and international parliamentary associations
The Parliament of Canada hosted three major conferences in 2014. During the period of this report, the 31st Canadian Presiding Officers’ Conference was held in Ottawa from January 30 to February 2, 2014, with speakers of the federal, provincial and territorial legislatures coming together to discuss issues of common interest and reflect on best practices.

In addition, preparations were made during this period for the hosting of the 40th Annual Session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie in July in Ottawa and the 11th Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region in September in Whitehorse. These preparations included holding extensive consultations with the respective international secretariats, performing site visits, developing meeting programs, finalizing contracts and building the conference Web sites.

Strategic Objective 4

To apply the highest standards of public sector governance in a parliamentary context
  • Strengthen stewardship to ensure optimal management of public resources
  • Improve talent recruitment, engagement, succession and retention
  • Strengthen environmental management practices
  • Advance an integrated approach to information management
Streamlining the process for reimbursing committee witnesses
After a successful pilot project conducted in spring 2013, new procedures for witness confirmation and requests for reimbursement were officially adopted by all committees on October 22, 2013. The new procedures include tools such as email templates, forms and guidelines to help decrease the number of modifications that are made to a claim—one of the primary reasons for delays.

The new forms and procedures will continue to be monitored and adjusted as necessary.

Harmonizing printing and mailing services
The harmonization of the printing and mailing services across the Parliamentary Precinct was completed in 2013–2014. The final phase of the project saw the closure of the Printing Services Counter in the Justice Building in June 2013. The retrofitted Printing Services Counter in the Centre Block has been fully operational since September 2013.
Providing Members and the House Administration with the latest technologies
Multi-function devices that include copy, print, scan and fax capabilities have been installed in Members' offices within the Parliamentary Precinct. Implementation of these devices for the House Administration will be completed in parallel with the expiry of leases on existing photocopiers.

Providing users with the latest technologies will help reduce costs, improve efficiencies and decrease the House’s overall environmental footprint.

Improving the way the House Administration conducts research
As part of a process to standardize, streamline and document the procedural research methodologies and tools used by the House Administration, an inventory of existing research holdings has identified several areas of duplication and opportunities for consolidation.

In 2013–2014, a content analysis of research files was performed and an electronic binders initiative was launched. The development of standards for future electronic research binders and information management strategies for existing binders will continue over the next year.

Improving human resource management systems
Work progressed on a project to map and roll out an updated staffing process for the House of Commons. Also initiated in 2013–2014 was the identification, selection and deployment of a new applicant tracking and talent acquisition management system.
Increasing the social media presence of the Page Program
Each year, the Page Program selects 40 students from high schools and CEGEPs across the country to work in the House of Commons. Last year, as part of its annual recruitment campaign, the Page Program launched a Facebook page—a first for the House Administration.

The Facebook page makes it easier to share information and photos to inform candidates about the Page Program and the recruitment process. It also allows the Page Program to reach a wider audience than would be possible through traditional recruitment methods and to engage with potential candidates to a much greater degree.

Enhancing transparency and accountability with regard to the expenditures of Members of Parliament
The Board of Internal Economy is committed to increasing Canadians’ understanding about its role and the expenditures of the House of Commons and its Members. Accordingly, the Board has taken a number of steps to provide additional information to the public, including posting the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual, Public Registry of Designated Travellers and minutes of all Board meetings on; and improving the public reporting of Members’ expenditures by disclosing additional details on travel and hospitality expenses. In addition, as of 2014–2015, the Members’ Expenditures Report will now be published on a quarterly basis.