Thank you, Mr. Chairman and honourable members, for inviting me to appear before you.
I should say I don't have any expertise or experience in many areas of the bill. I assume I was invited here because I was co-counsel to the Gomery commission. I may have some thoughts on several parts of the bill as a consequence of that. I examined panels headed by the Clerk of the Privy Council and by deputy ministers of Treasury Board, PCO, Finance, and PWGSC, which gave me some insight into the interrelationship between the public service and elected members. That may help me comment on various parts of the suggested amendments to the Financial Administration Act. I examined Mr. Chuck Guité. You'll recall that in three days of cross-examination he told me a story different from the one he told the public accounts committee, about who made what decisions and what his reporting relationships were. Again, that may help me comment on the accountability provisions in the FAA.
I examined Mr. Allan Cutler, who was the whistle-blower, and that may enable me to comment on the whistle-blower provisions in the act.
I have comments on three parts of the act. The first is quite discrete. It deals with the removal of the right of employees in ministers' offices to be appointed without competition. Under the Public Service Employment Act, Mr. Gagliano's chief of staff, Mr. Tremblay, was appointed without a competition to Mr. Guité's group and succeeded him as head.
There's no question that there have been a number of excellent public servants who have come through ministers' offices and gone into the public service who are now deputy ministers. That being said, in my view this is a good provision. There is a perception of favouritism and there is a perception of conflict. Certainly I think that was the case in front of the Gomery commission.
The second area I would like to comment on is the whistler-blower protection provisions. It is important to have a fair process to resolve whistle-blower cases. There's a real need to balance a fair and open process for whistle-blowers, including freedom from reprisals, on the one hand, and the legitimate needs of public servants to perform their functions without intimidation or fear of witch hunts on the other. So you have to have a legitimate avenue for complaints. You have to have a decision-maker who has expertise in all of the aspects of government who can balance the interests, and you have to have a fair and expeditious—and I'd underline expeditious—procedure. I think the bill, by and large, is a good process.
I would like to focus on the reprisals part. Complaints are made to the commissioner who presumably has expertise. Proposed section 19.3 on page 130 of the bill provides that the commissioner can refuse to deal with a complaint where it's been adequately dealt with elsewhere, or it's not made in good faith. I think that is a very important gatekeeper function to perform for the health of the public service generally. I should say that gatekeeper function is a lot like the one established in the Competition Act. I see in this bill dealing with whistle-blowing many analogies to the Competition Act, a statute that I'm quite familiar with and have litigated many cases under.
I also would point to the provision in proposed section 20.4 on page 136 of the bill, where only the commissioner may apply to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal. The tribunal itself is staffed by judges, which on the one hand is good. They're above reproach; they're above conflict. The concern I have—and I'm a litigator—is that the litigation process can be time-consuming and can have a great deal of machinery associated with it, and that has to be avoided.
I'll say that in this bill, proposed section 21 on page 139 is important, and I underline it. It says that the proceedings have to be informal and expeditious. Notwithstanding that they're in front of judges who are used to court-like processes where the rules of evidence must be followed, it nevertheless provides for an informal and expeditious procedure. As long as that's followed, that would deal with this concern.
The third area I'd like to make comment on concerns the amendments to the Financial Administration Act that make accounting officers—essentially deputy ministers—accountable before Parliament.
The amendment contemplated in proposed section 16.4 of that act, which is page 174 of the bill, makes the deputy minister accountable before Parliament within a framework of appropriate ministerial responsibility and accountability to Parliament.
Again drawing on my experience at Gomery, there is a need to at least answer to Parliament. The fact is that deputy ministers answer to Parliament and parliamentary committees now; deputy ministers can be called in front of a committee now. But this codifies the obligation to answer, and I think this might—I say “might”—create a situation where there is less likely to be communication and reporting on a regular and continuous basis by a mid-level bureaucrat outside the chain of command.
There has to be, however, a clear distinction between answerability and accountability, because you should not set up a dichotomy where you have duelling between the public service—unelected people—and elected representatives. The responsibility for policy has to be with the elected representatives. In principle, there must be great care taken not to blur the lines of responsibility and to inadvertently make deputy ministers accountable for policy decisions.
I think this bill largely deals with that problem. This bill in that regard is carefully drawn in three respects. First, it provides that the accountability of the deputy minister is within the framework of the appropriate minister's responsibility and accountability to Parliament. That underlines the constitutional principle of responsible government.
Second, proposed paragraphs 16.4(1)(a), (b), (c), and (d) of the Financial Administration Act provide that the deputy minister is accountable in relation to the organization of resources of the department, internal control, signing of accounts—he should be responsible for that—and, the one I would be concerned about, duties “in relation to the administration of the department”.
In my experience in this case, administration can shade into policy. I think it's clear from proposed paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) that the intention in proposed paragraph (d) was that the accountability not shade into policy. But one of the things you might want to consider is making that explicit.
Subject to that, Mr. Chairman, in my view this is a very good effort to balance the interests. Care must be taken, though, not to inadvertently blur the lines. As far as I'm aware, this is the first time—I stand to be corrected—in a common-law country such as ours that the obligation has been codified as it is here. That's not to say we shouldn't be stepping into unchartered waters. Columbus never would have discovered America had he been afraid to move into unchartered waters. But it is to say that care has to be taken not to deal with anything more than the problem this is established to deal with.
Thank you, sir.
Treasury Board also knowingly failed to implement the oversight mechanisms that it ought to have applied. Ms. Fraser told us that, at that time, there were about 72,000 rules in place on accountability, responsibility, and so forth — I do not know whether that is an exaggeration — and yet additional ones are now being introduced.
Firstly, with your indulgence, I would like to address the matter of perception. According to the Conservative government, Bill C-2, amongst other objectives, aims to correct both problems relating to poor public service management and public perception. I asked a witness who is an expert in this field whether other countries or other Canadian jurisdictions had introduced similar pieces of legislation that had successfully resolved problems of public perception, an outcome that is, after all, a stated objective of the bill. His answer was no.
When we studied the bill that created the post of ethics commissioner, as well as introducing both an ethics code for members and ministers and an ethics code for senators, some people said that it was an attempt to improve public perception. It has now been two or three years since the post of ethics commissioner was first created, but I do not think that the Canadian public now have a more favourable image of Parliament. You argued that ending the practice of making appointments without holding competitions would correct the problem of public perception. To my mind, it may improve the image of Parliament in the eyes of those who are following the committee's work, but not in the eyes of the public in general.
I therefore think that there is a world of difference between the bill's stated objective and what it will actually achieve. That does not mean that we should do nothing. I would like to hear your views on this.
You told us about those aspects of the bill that you believe constitute positive measures, such as protecting whistleblowers and putting an end to the practice of making appointments without holding competitions. However, should you consider some of the bill's provisions to be less desirable, even if you have not mentioned them today, I would ask you to send your comments on them to us, through the chairman or the clerk, so that we can improve Bill C-2. Although you made some positive comments, I am certain that you do not consider the bill to be perfect.
I would therefore ask you to send us any comments or suggested amendments that you would like to make.
Thank you, Chair, and thank you for your presentation.
I would like to go through the three areas you commented on. I'll start with the first topic you brought up, and that is the politically exempt staff and how that works.
For the record, in fact, I disagree with my friend down the way. I would like to have seen retroactivity in this, particularly when we saw just after this election, yet again, people being dropped into various ministries. I'll tell you, as someone from Ottawa, as someone who represents public servants, it creates within the public service, to put it mildly, a little bit of resentment to watch people cut the line and without merit--we talk about competition, it's about the merit principle here--be able to get positions that other people have to wait for and apply for. That's just a comment.
The other area we haven't talked about is the reverse situation, and that is where people are brought from and seconded to political staff. I'd like you to comment on that. That's happening. There are people in this town, and I've actually talked to some, who--and I'm not sure we know how many--aren't political staff who go into the public service, but they are public servants who are seconded and brought into a political job. I'd like your thoughts on that.
Secondly, we've talked about the fact that we need a fair process, an expedient process, to protect whistle-blowers from reprisals. I'd like to get your comments on the composition. You touched on it and Mr. Cutler touched on it--the fact that maybe we shouldn't just have judges, but maybe others could be involved, and also, as a last resort, that the courts be an option. If so, what kind of support would a whistle-blower have? Should it be beyond $3,000 or beyond $1,500, considering that sometimes whistle-blowers are fighting a department that's fairly well stocked, if you will, with resources?
The final one is about your comments about policy and accountability. I note that in the Gomery recommendations there are various things that could deal with that. When we look at codifying, having a public service charter is part of recommendation 2, but there are also some comments about the length of time a deputy minister serves. There's been a real concern in this town about the fact that deputy ministers aren't around long enough. I can certainly see a problem if you're asking deputy ministers to be more accountable. It's very difficult if you've only been there for six or eight months. How can you be accountable if you haven't been there? I'd like your comments on that, because it was in Gomery and it's been identified by other policy-makers and people who look at policy. They also talked about committees having enough resources, so that the public accounts committee, in particular, can have a deep enough well to draw from to do their job.
I'll stop at that.
On your question about public servants going into political jobs, I have no comment. My experience was the other way, and my comments really were limited to that. Without commenting on whether it's a good or a bad thing, it raises different issues.
When a political person goes into the public service, it raises an issue different from when a non-partisan person goes into a partisan situation. There may be issues if that civil servant goes back, but that's beyond the scope of this bill, as I understand it.
Concerning the composition of the tribunal, I told you about the Competition Tribunal. The Competition Tribunal is made up of Federal Court judges and lay people with expertise, so that's the tribunal I'm most familiar with. They sit as a quorum of three. There must be one judge; one lay person, who is generally an economist; and then one other person, who is either a judge or an economist. There are either two judges and one economist or one judge and two lay people.
That would be another way, certainly, to go here--people with expertise in government and judges forming a heterogeneous panel.
In terms of court as an option, my view is it would not be a good option. In fact, my comments were actually the opposite. My comments were that the difficulty with a court is it takes a very long time, it's public, and in many situations you can do terrible damage to an innocent person's reputation--either the whistle-blower or the person upon whom the so-called whistle was blown. It would be very unfair to that person to have that made public over a long process. These things have to be dealt with expeditiously.
So I would not have court as an option.
In terms of the recommendation that there be a hard and fast rule that deputy ministers be changed, again I don't see that as being part of the Federal Accountability Act. I think it really would work on a case-by-case basis, though.
It's always the issue of experience versus the need for change. Sometimes you want experience and you wouldn't want to be forced to rotate it out; sometimes you want change, and there you are.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I have a preliminary statement to make. I will make it in both French and English and alternate between the two languages. Mr. Hamel will assist in our discussion later on with your questions.
On May 8, 2006, I was designated to act as chairperson of the Public Service Labour Relations Board by the Minister of Canadian Heritage until a chairperson is appointed. The Minister of Canadian Heritage is the designated minister for the purpose of the Public Service Labour Relations Board.
I am honoured to appear before the committee in this capacity and am pleased to provide information on the board's mandate and responsibilities under various statutes, mainly the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
The Public Service Labour Relations Board is an independent, quasi-judicial statutory tribunal responsible for administering the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems in the federal public service and the parliamentary service.
The board's success in the important mission that Parliament has conferred on it depends in large measure upon the neutrality and impartiality, both perceived and real, with which we deal with matters coming before us. To ensure that we safeguard this neutrality, which is vital to our independence and credibility, you will understand that I must refrain from expressing views on the substantive provisions of the bill, which you are current reviewing, or indeed the legislative provisions of any statute that may come before the board for adjudication at any time. It will also be inappropriate for me to comment on any particular case presently before the board. Consequently, I feel that I am under an obligation of reserve with respect to the matters that are discussed here at the committee, and I trust the committee will understand this imperative.
I appreciate that the committee is particularly interested in the amendments to Bill C-2 that affect the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and that have implications for this board. The act confers on the board the responsibility to deal with complaints made by public servants against reprisals. Amendments to that act, which are contained in Bill C-2, would remove this responsibility from the board and establish a new public servants disclosure protection tribunal to hear and decide these matters.
I realize it has been suggested in some quarters that the board should serve as the forum before which employees may present complaints against reprisals. For the reasons I just mentioned, I have no view to express on either of those proposals. However, in order to assist you in your deliberations on these questions, allow me to briefly describe the board's existing mandate and responsibilities.
As you probably know, the board was originally established in 1967 as an independent, quasi-judicial statutory tribunal, and since then it has accumulated an important body of jurisprudence and knowledge in all matters related to labour relations in the public and parliamentary service.
While a new board with an expanded mandate was established on April 1, 2005 with the coming into force of the Public Service Modernization Act, in fact it serves to continue the work of the former board.
As an independent entity, the board is a separate employer and it reports directly to Parliament on its activities to a designated minister — currently the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Members of the board are appointed from two lists, one of which is provided by the employers and the other by the bargaining agents. Appointments are to be made to the board so as to ensure that, to the extent possible, an equal number of individuals are appointed from each list. Even though a board member may have been recommended by one party or the other — either the employer or the bargaining agents — the legislation specifies that members do not represent those parties and requires them to act impartially at all times. Board members are further guided by the board's code of conduct and guidelines, reviewed and updated in 2005.
Finally, the legislation requires that, to be eligible to hold office as a member, a person must have knowledge or experience in labour relations.
In carrying out its mandate, the board is called upon to hear and determine applications and complaints of various kinds, including complaints by a public servant that he or she has been subject to reprisals for having exercised a right recognized by law, or for having participated in the legitimate activities of an employee organization. The board is also responsible for dealing with complaints made by public servants who allege that they have been victims of reprisals for having exercised a right under part II of the Canada Labour Code, in other words, the occupational safety and health provisions. The board has been vested with this jurisdiction since 1986. Thirty-three such cases are currently before the board.
The vast majority of the board's work is to adjudicate on grievances filed by federal public servants that relate to the application or interpretation of a collective agreement, to disciplinary action imposed on employees, or to the termination of employment for disciplinary or non-disciplinary reasons.
The act provides that board members hear and determine grievances and sit as adjudicators as assigned by the chairperson. In board matters, a panel of three members can be appointed at the discretion of the chairperson.
The board's jurisdiction covers approximately 221,000 public servants grouped under 86 bargaining units and represented by 30 bargaining agents. The Treasury Board is the employer for over 162,300 public servants. Other public servants, of course, work for the remaining 23 separate agencies. In addition, parliamentary employers hire a total of approximately 2,700 employees.
There are 4,037 grievances currently before the board under both the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.
Under the new Public Service Labour Relations Act, adjudicators of the board can deal with human rights aspects of grievances they are seized with, something that was not possible under the former act. This jurisdiction exists in parallel with the right of federal public servants to file a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and it gives the commission the right to make representations before the adjudicator when the issue of human rights is being considered.
The board also provides mediation and conflict resolution services to help parties to resolve differences at the bargaining table or to settle their cases without resorting to a formal hearing.
As part of its newly expanded mandate, the board has established compensation analysis and research services to support the employers and the bargaining agents in their collective bargaining. The board is also responsible for administering the labour relations collective bargaining and grievance education framework for employees of Parliament.
As you can see, the board's mandate is multi-faceted and covers a wide range of labour- and employment-related matters affecting federal public servants and parliamentary employees. It is involved in redress procedures for persons employed in the federal public and parliamentary services, and it operates very much in a court-like fashion, although it strives to operate in a more informal manner.
To enable the board to carry out its mandate effectively, the statutes give the board and adjudicators a wide array of powers akin to those of a court of law, including the power to summon witnesses, order the production of documents, order pre-hearing conferences, hold hearings in person or sometimes in writing, and summarily dismiss a frivolous or vexatious application or complaint.
It can order remedies such as reinstatement and damages to correct any wrong that demonstrably occurred.
Decisions rendered by the board and adjudicators can be judicially reviewed under the Federal Courts Act on a question of law, natural justice, or jurisdiction.
Over the years, the courts have set a high threshold of review of the board's decisions — that of patent unreasonableness — on the grounds that the board is a specialized and expert tribunal in the field of labour and employment relations.
Over the years, approximately 10 per cent of the board's decisions have been reviewed at the request of one or the other parties. Of this number, the Federal Court has upheld the board's decision in 80 to 90 per cent of cases. The decisions rendered by the board are binding on the parties and may be filed in the Federal Court. An order so filed becomes an order of the Federal Court and may be enforced as such.
As I have already mentioned, over the years, the board has also encouraged the parties to resolve their cases and differences with the assistance of mediation. The board has staff mediators who assist the parties in their efforts and can also utilize outside experts for that purpose.
Mr. Chairman, I hope this overview of the mandate and responsibility of the board under existing legislation has been useful.
I reiterate that I express no opinion on the legislative proposals that are before you or the scheme provided under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. I can assure the committee that the board will be pleased to carry out, with the suitable level of resources, of course, whatever role Parliament considers appropriate to confer on it as the labour tribunal for the public service of Canada.
That concludes my remarks, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you very much for your presentation.
I understand very well that given the mandate, authority, and responsibilities of your board, you aren't able to say, we can do the job that's been suggested by other witnesses that Bill C-2 currently would give to an entirely newly created organization. That's very clear to me, and I would hope to any impartial listener—whether they're in this room or watching by television—when you describe the expertise that your board has, the qualifications, the types of cases you deal with, the authority you have. You make the point that your authority was expanded under the modernization, and you dealt with it and you've handled it.
The underlying point--I will say it, you can't--is that if this committee in its wisdom decides that rather than creating an entirely new structure, we take the powers that would have gone to that structure, that tribunal, and we invest your board with it, your board will be able to handle it more than adequately, more than efficiently. You've got the expertise, the experience, the qualified people--you've got it all. There's no difference in terms of the appointments, because judges are appointed by Governor in Council, as are the members of your board. The difference is that they're there for life, until they're 75, whereas you guys aren't. If you're going to stay there, you have to be qualified and you have to continue to be qualified.
Have I taken up my two minutes?
The definition of a backlog would be an interesting one, I think, for everybody to know. We have over 3,000 cases carried forward from the previous year. Right now we are handling and managing all of those cases. A great majority of the cases will be settled or will be scheduled very briefly. If you're hearing of a backlog at the board, I think it would be more accurate to look at what we are experiencing right now as regular management of our files, in that what is coming in and going out is within the norm and is not adding to....
We are successful in scheduling cases for termination, for example, within four months. We will endeavour to schedule all other cases within five months. So at this point what is happening is that the resources on both sides—the two parties, the bargaining agent and the employer side—are short, and we have requests for postponements due to that.
In response to that, we are trying to innovate and provide both parties with new procedures. We've developed the expedited adjudication process. We are regularly using pre-hearing conferences in order to have the parties maybe narrow the number of days they may need, and those sorts of things, and to try to get a date from them to see when we can proceed.
So we're being very active in this regard, and we don't feel that we're overwhelmed at all. As I said, the numbers are stable and we're managing all of those files.
We had hearings on Bill C-11 for well over a year and we heard from a host of whistle-blowers, and not one of them said they wanted the staff relations board to be the mechanism to protect them from reprisal—not one. I took the liberty of contacting a host of them this past week to find out if they've changed their point of view, and I have a list, which Mr. Sauvageau asked for, of public servants who are whistle-blowers who do not believe the staff relations board is suitable for this function.
In fact, I have here Joanna Gualtieri, who says she does not believe the board was of any use at all in her case. I have additionally Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon, Allan Cutler, Brian McAdam, Selwyn Peters, and Joanna Gualtieri, who have all said they would prefer to have a tribunal of judges oversee cases such as their own instead of the board.
This is what whistle-blowers are saying. Unions, who have some control over the composition of your board, might feel otherwise, but I'm taking the word of whistle-blowers, for whom this bill was drafted and whom it is meant to serve. That's the first point.
I should also point out that Dr. Keyserlingk, who has been overseeing whistle-blower protection in this country, although with limited powers, also is of the view that a tribunal of judges, and not the board, is perfectly suited to do this.
Finally, I should note that it's a false dichotomy, because what the Accountability Act proposes is to give public servants the choice of whether they want to go to your board or to a tribunal of judges. We are of the view that whistle-blowers should continue to have that choice, and if other parties want to take away that choice from whistle-blowers, that will be their decision, and they'll have to explain it to whistle-blowers.
I want to get more clarity on your mandate as it stands now. Do you have the power to discipline?
My name is Angela Regnier. I am the national deputy chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. This is our government relations coordinator, Ian Boyko.
I'd like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today about this legislation and about the academic community.
Our federation unites over one-half million university and college students from coast to coast. That membership includes over 60,000 graduate students. These graduate student numbers are in part why we requested to testify this evening.
Graduate students and faculty researchers receiving federal grants are excluded from Bill C-2, an oversight that we strongly recommend be considered by this committee. The federal government allocates well over $1 billion a year to researchers at universities and research-affiliated institutions every year. Canadians know the value of world-class research as they see the short- and long-term dividends of research every day--better and safer medication, made-in-Canada technological innovation such as the Research In Motion entrepreneurial success story, and as a result of social science research, the general public and its policy-makers obtain a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and cultural forces that shape our world.
Canadians are making a large investment in knowledge, and in most cases they are enjoying a wonderful return. Unfortunately, there are many examples of federal research policy that have distorted the development of university-based research. Increasingly, a narrow view of commercialization, bringing new products to the market, is becoming the predominant mission for federally sponsored research. Tying university research outcomes too closely to short-term, private sector needs is not only bad for innovation, it's simply bad science.
We are hearing more and more first-hand accounts of researchers who have had to alter their results in reporting in order to satisfy their industry sponsors. One example that comes to mind involves a public drinking water experiment in which a graduate student made efforts to expose data suppression and falsification of research results. Two researchers allegedly misrepresented results of the drinking water study to yield favourable results for the sponsor. Health Canada guidelines are being updated using these allegedly falsified conclusions. What is astounding in this case was that the university did not stand up for good science. Instead, the university attempted to shut down all efforts to shed light on the interference, including threatening the graduate student with a defamation suit.
Canada lacks a federal watchdog for research integrity. While the federal granting agencies have a policy on ethical guidelines for research that regulate the institutions they fund, they have no mandate to protect whistle-blowers. Sometimes universities have been complicit in research misconduct, especially when students have come forward with allegations. Other countries have implemented federal agencies to oversee public research. For example, the United States Office of Research Integrity explicitly states that the whistle-blower is essential to protecting the integrity of government-supported research.
The Federal Accountability Act provides the structure and the opportunity for the government to ensure research integrity through the following simple amendments: extend the protections offered by the proposed Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act to researchers, including students in public, post-secondary, and research-affiliated institutions. To reflect this expanded scope, the act should be renamed the Public Interest Disclosure Protection Act and the commissioner should be renamed the Public Interest Integrity Commissioner. We propose that a deputy commissioner on research integrity be established to work closely with universities, research institutions, and the federal granting agencies to promote research integrity. We further propose amendments to the lists of reprisals and wrongdoings to greater reflect the realities of research misconduct in universities as well as expansions to the remedies available to the tribunal.
Also, as a student, I would like to congratulate the government on putting the Millennium Scholarship Foundation under the bright light of public scrutiny, since soon after its inception, students have had concerns with the foundation.
Thank you for the opportunity.
I look forward to your questions.
Thank you for your presentation. You've kind of illuminated a couple of issues. I'm going to start with perhaps an observation. When we look at the role that researchers play and people who innovate, really, in our society and in our economy, it's at the graduate level in universities, not exclusively but certainly primarily. I think getting at the source of a problem would help, obviously, and your analysis provides that.
I think of the three people who are sitting in the audience here, Monsieur Lambert, Ms. Hansen, and Mr. Chopra, who prevented many things, the least of which is the bovine growth hormone in our milk. As the father of two kids, I'm really glad that happened. They did that because they were at the table being vigilant about our health. If we had been listening to them, we could have avoided the BSE crisis, and I say that in all seriousness. I think what you're identifying is an issue that most people here wouldn't know anything about, and that's the drinking water example you provided for us.
You have amendments, and I think they are sensible, common-sense ones, certainly with extending whistle-blowing to people who are touched by federal dollars. Why not? I'd like to know a little bit more about the example you provided us, because I didn't know about it. I'd like to know what exactly happened? How much money, roughly, was being afforded? Also, what was the outcome? These people, you were suggesting, basically had duct tape put on them and they were told to be quiet. I'd like to know what happened. What was the case scenario, and where is it at right now?
I have several questions. I appreciate your presentation.
My first question is, have you prepared any written document or notes for your presentation today? If you have, have you provided a copy of same to any member of this committee, to a staff of any member of this committee, to a staff of any minister or the President of the Treasury Board, or to a member of the public service who works for Treasury Board or another federal department? That's my first question.
My second question is this. I missed your presentation of Mr. Ian Boyko. Could you repeat what position Mr. Boyko holds in the Canadian Federation of Students?
My third question deals with the issue of.... I think the point you raised about having an avenue for graduate students—or any student who is working on a particular research project and is receiving federal funding, whether it's directly to that student as a grant or through a university because some professor has applied for moneys for research, etc.—to whistle-blow if they see something wrong is excellent.
My question is this. You were asked previously whether you currently have the possibility to file a complaint with the Public Service Staff Relations Board. Obviously you do not. However, Bill C-2 would create a tribunal that would have the authority to deal with whistle-blowers who work in the federal public service and also who work with a variety of crown corporations federally, and it would also be able to deal with complaints coming from contractors, in the private sector, for instance, or in the not-for-profit sector, who contract with the federal government through either requests for proposals or tenders.
We have had submissions from organizations saying they would like the authorities Bill C-2 would give to a new tribunal to be given to the existing board. The existing board's mandate, authorities, and powers would expand to deal with complaints from the private sector, because they say the call for tenders was biased or whatever, or from the non-profit sector, or from a member of the public service.
Given that you're requesting that you have an avenue, if this committee in its wisdom decided you should have an avenue and we carved out the authority with, for instance, the existing Public Service Staff Relations Board—whose name might undergo a change, because it would be expanded—would you feel that, whether it's with that board or another board, the issue is the authority to receive the complaint, to adequately investigate, conduct a hearing, and to actually make orders that would be executory? That's what you're asking for. Is that correct?