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 persons with disabilities 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. The award enables the recipient to conduct research and produce a report on the contributions to the public life of Canada or the activities of Parliament of persons with disabilities. The award consists of funds collected from the Centennial Flame monument on Parliament Hill and from any monetary donations made to the Centennial Flame Research Award Fund. 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, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs their 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. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committee’s Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the committee.
The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, 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 analysts work 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 with 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 a 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 with 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) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.
The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.
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 the power to study government bills and private member bills that are referred to it. This process involves a clause-by-clause examination of proposed bills, as well as public hearings where witnesses are invited to discuss the bills.
There were no bills referred to or studied by the committee during the first session of the 43rd Parliament.
The following bills were referred to and studied by the committee in the 43rd Parliament:
The following bills were referred to and studied by the committee in the 42nd Parliament:
The committee has undertaken and tabled studies on numerous topics that fall under its mandate.
During the first session of the 43rd Parliament, the committee passed several motions for studies, including one examining housing for Indigenous people. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the committee studied instead the federal government’s response to the public health crisis. Among other aspects, the study examined the supports available for vulnerable groups during the pandemic (including supports for children and families, students, workers, people with disabilities, seniors and temporary foreign workers). The committee, which met virtually during this time, had not completed its study by the time Parliament was prorogued on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
During the second session of the 43rd Parliament, the committee met in a hybrid manner, with options for both virtual and in-person participation. It reported on the following matters related to employment and social development:
During this session, the committee also initiated studies on the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative and on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on seniors. However, it had not completed these studies when the House of Commons was dissolved on 15 August 2021. In the 42nd Parliament, the committee reported on the following matters related to employment and social development:
The committee also regularly studies Main Estimates, which outline the financial resources required by the departments and agencies under the committee’s mandate for the coming fiscal year.
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.
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.