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MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
 
Meeting No. 45
 
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
 

The Standing Committee on Finance met at 10:05 a.m. this day, in Room 213, Wellington Building, the Chair, Rob Merrifield, presiding.

 

Members of the Committee present: Paul Crête, Rick Dykstra, Jean-Yves Laforest, Hon. John McCallum, Hon. John McKay, Ted Menzies, Rob Merrifield and Mike Wallace.

 

Acting Members present: Ron Cannan for Dean Del Mastro, Robert Carrier for Jean-Yves Laforest, Olivia Chow for Thomas J. Mulcair and Martha Hall Findlay for Massimo Pacetti.

 

In attendance: Library of Parliament: June Dewetering, Principal Analyst; Alexandre Laurin, Analyst. House of Commons: Mike MacPherson, Legislative Clerk.

 

Witnesses: Department of Human Resources and Social Development Canada: Rosaline Frith, Director General, Canada Student Loans Program.

 
Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Thursday, April 10, 2008, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-50, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 26, 2008 and to enact provisions to preserve the fiscal plan set out in that budget.
 

The Committee commenced its clause-by-clause study of the Bill.

 

Rick Dykstra moved, — That the Chair may limit debate on each clause to a maximum of five minutes per party per clause before the clause comes to a vote.

Debate arose thereon.

 

After debate, the question was put on the motion and it was agreed to on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Martha Hall Findlay, John McCallum, John McKay, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 7; NAYS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3.

 

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of the Preamble and Clause 1 is postponed.

The Chair called Clause 2.

 

Clause 2 carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3.

 

By unanimous consent, it was agreed, — That the result of the vote on the previous Clause be applied to Clauses 3 to 100.

 

Accordingly, Clauses 3 to 100 were deemed carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3.

 

After debate, Clause 101 carried on division.

 

After debate, Clause 102 carried on division.

 

By unanimous consent, Clauses 103 to 115 inclusive carried on division.

 

On Clause 116,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 116, be amended by replacing line 4 on page 95 with the following:

“regulations. The visa or document shall be”

 

After debate, the question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3; NAYS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4.

 

After debate, Clause 116 carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3.

 

On Clause 117,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 117, be amended by replacing line 14 on page 95 with the following:

“Act, and shall, on the Minister's own initiative or”

 

After debate, the question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3; NAYS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4.

 

Clause 117 carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Olivia Chow, Paul Crête, Jean-Yves Laforest — 3.

 

After debate, Clause 118 carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3.

 

By unanimous consent, it was agreed, — That the result of the vote on the previous Clause be applied to Clauses 119 and 120.

 

Accordingly, Clauses 119 and 120 were deemed carried on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3.

 

On Clause 121,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 121, be amended

(a) by replacing lines 33 and 34 on page 98 with the following:

Act, or that the Board is restricted”

(b) by adding after line 38 on page 98 the following:

“(2.1) The Board may however make recommendations on matters related to the design, delivery and policies of the employment insurance program.”

 

The Chair ruled the proposed amendment inadmissible because it was contrary to the principle of the Bill, as provided on page 654 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 121, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 99 with the following:

“chairperson, and they shall be designated in the following manner:

(a) three directors shall be chosen from the lists provided by the most representative employers' associations;

(b) three directors shall be chosen from the lists provided by the most representative union associations; and

(c) one director shall represent the Government of Canada.”

 

After debate, the question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived on the following recorded division: YEAS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3; NAYS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 121, be amended by replacing line 10 on page 100 with the following:

“tion of the Minister, with the approval of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, to hold office during good”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides a mechanism whereby directors are chosen for the newly created Canada Employment Financing Board. Board members are appointed by the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister.

This amendment seeks to modify that mechanism by including the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities as a decision making authority in that process.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 654:

“An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the Bill.”

In the opinion of the Chair, this amendment proposes a new concept, which seeks to alter the fundamental nature of the process by which Board members are selected; therefore I rule the amendment inadmissible.

 

Whereupon, Olivia Chow appealed the decision of the Chair.

The question: "Shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?" was put and the decision was sustained on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 121, be amended by replacing line 12 on page 102 with the following:

“directors and with the approval of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, designate one of the directors as”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides a mechanism whereby a Chairperson is chosen for the newly created Canada Employment Financing Board. The Chairperson is appointed by the Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister after that Minister has consulted with the Board.

This amendment seeks to modify that mechanism by including the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities as a decision making authority in that process.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 654:

“An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the Bill.”

In the opinion of the Chair, this amendment proposes a new concept, which seeks to alter the fundamental nature of the process by which the Chairperson is selected; therefore I rule the amendment inadmissible.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 121, be amended by adding after line 3 on page 114 the following:

“(d.1) the results of any public consultations held by the Board with respect to the premium rate; and”

 

The question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived, by a show of hands: YEAS: 2; NAYS: 4.

 

Clause 121 carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

Clause 122 carried on division.

 

Clause 123 carried on division.

 

On Clause 124,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 124, be amended by replacing lines 28 to 37 on page 114 and lines 1 to 4 on page 115 with the following:

“124. Subsection 3(2) of the Employment Insurance Act is replaced by the following:”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides a reporting structure whereby the Commission may assess and monitor the effectiveness of the provisions of this act which would replace an existing structure already found in the Employment Insurance Act.

This amendment seeks to remove the new reporting structure but would leave intact the previous reporting structure.

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 654:

‘An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.’

In the opinion of the Chair, the removal of the new reporting structure would create enough of an inconsistency so as to be contrary to the principle of the Bill and is therefore inadmissible.

 

By unanimous consent, Clauses 124 to 126 inclusive carried on division.

 

On Clause 127,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 127, be amended by replacing line 24 on page 116 with the following:

“Insurance Account and, as long as that balance is positive, contributions may not be increased, except as may be necessary to finance enhanced benefits.”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides a framework for the setting of an annual premium rate. This framework consists of several factors. One factor is that the Board shall not take into account the balance in the Employment Insurance Account.

This amendment seeks to add to that concept by creating instructions to be based upon a positive balance in the Employment Insurance Account.

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 654:

“An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.”

In the opinion of the Chair, the inclusion of a set of instructions based on a positive balance in that particular account as set out in this amendment, is directly at odds with the provisions of the clause it seeks to amend, rendering the amendment contrary to the principle of the Bill and therefore inadmissible.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 127, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 117 with the following:

“following three years.”

 

The question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived, by a show of hands: YEAS: 3; NAYS: 4.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 127, be amended by adding after line 26 on page 117 the following:

“(f) a plan to pay to the Board any amounts from the Employment Insurance Account when that account has — in addition to the amount necessary to avoid any increase in contributions during a prolonged economic slowdown — a positive balance according to the Chief Actuary.”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 sets out a list of information that the Minister shall provide the Board on an annual basis. The Bill also provides a stipulation for the Board that in exercising its powers and performing its functions and duties, the Board shall not take into account the balance in the Employment Insurance Account.

This amendment seeks to add an item to the list of information that the Minister must provide, namely a provision that the Minister also provide a plan to pay to the Board certain amounts from the Employment Insurance Account when that account has a positive balance.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 654:

“An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the Bill.”

In the opinion of the Chair, this amendment imposes on the Minister the task of outlining a plan for a concept that is both absent from the bill and contrary to its principle; therefore I rule the amendment inadmissible.

 

Whereupon, Olivia Chow appealed the decision of the Chair.

The question: "Shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?" was put and the decision was sustained on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Martha Hall Findlay, John McCallum, John McKay, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 7; NAYS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 127, be amended by replacing line 40 on page 117 with the following:

“rate for the following three years.”

 

The question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived, by a show of hands: YEAS: 3; NAYS: 4.

 

Clause 127 carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

On Clause 128,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 128, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 119 with the following:

70.1 There shall be paid out of the Con-”

 

The question was put on the amendment of Olivia Chow and it was negatived, by a show of hands: YEAS: 3; NAYS: 4.

 

Clause 128 carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

By unanimous consent, it was agreed, — That the result of the vote on the previous Clause be applied to Clauses 129 and 130.

 

Accordingly, Clauses 129 and 130 were deemed carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

On Clause 131,

Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 131, be amended by replacing lines 9 and 10 on page 121 with the following:

“Minister of Finance shall authorize the payment to the”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides that the Minister of Finance, when requested by the Minister, may authorize advances from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in situations where the reserve is insufficient to cover EI benefit payments.

The amendment seeks to force the Minister of Finance to authorize transfers of this kind without the input of the Minister responsible for the program.

As House of Commons Procedure and Practice states on page 654:

“An amendment to a bill that was referred to committee after second reading is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill.”

In the opinion of the Chair, the desired alteration to the authorization process is contrary to the principle of the Bill, therefore I rule the amendment inadmissible.

 
Olivia Chow moved, — That Bill C-50, in Clause 131, be amended by replacing lines 13 to 17 on page 121 with the following:

“(2) The payment shall be made from the accumulated surplus and shall not be refunded.”

 

RULING BY THE CHAIR

Bill C-50 provides for advances from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in situations where the reserve is insufficient to cover EI benefit payments, with advances to be repaid in accordance with the terms and conditions set out by the Minister of Finance.

The amendment seeks to amend the bill so that the transfers are made from the accumulated surplus and also seeks to remove any terms and conditions of repayment.

House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at page 655:

“An amendment must not offend the financial initiative of the Crown. An amendment is therefore inadmissible if it imposes a charge on the Public Treasury, or if it exceeds the objects or purposes of relaxes the conditions and qualifications as expressed in the Royal Recommendation.”

In the opinion of the Chair, the amendment proposes a new scheme, which seeks to alter the terms and conditions of the Royal Recommendation, therefore I rule the amendment inadmissible.

 

Clause 131 carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

By unanimous consent, it was agreed, — That the result of the vote on the previous Clause be applied to Clauses 132 to 164, as well as the Short Title, the Preamble and the Title.

 

Accordingly, Clauses 132 to 164, the Short Title, the Preamble and the Title were deemed carried by a show of hands: YEAS: 4; NAYS: 3.

 

The question: "Shall the Bill carry?" was put and was agreed to on the following recorded division: YEAS: Ron Cannan, Rick Dykstra, Ted Menzies, Mike Wallace — 4; NAYS: Robert Carrier, Olivia Chow, Paul Crête — 3.

 

ORDERED, — That the Chair report the Bill to the House.

 

At 11:16 a.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

 



Jean-François Pagé
Clerk of the Committee

 
 
2008-06-02 9:36 a.m.