I'm delighted to be here again today.
As you indicated, I am accompanied today by several departmental officials who will be able to help me answer your questions.
I'll just spend a few minutes introducing the colleagues we have with us: the associate deputy minister, Claire Dansereau, whom you've had the opportunity to meet a number of times now; George Da Pont, the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard; Cal Hegge, assistant deputy minister of human resources and corporate services; Mr. Barry Rashotte, who is the acting director general of resource management operations; Ms. Michaela Huard, who is the assistant deputy minister of policy; and Madame Mimi Breton, who is the assistant deputy minister of the oceans, habitat, and species at risk secretariat. This is Madame Breton's first appearance before the committee since she joined us in November of 2007.
Before I ask Mr. Hegge to walk you through the documents we have provided the committee as a brief snapshot of the crosswalk between the estimates and the report on plans and priorities, I would like again to offer assistance to the committee to support your activities as you tour small craft harbours in different parts of the country. I believe your trip has been quite successful to date. If there is anything we can do to support you in your fact-finding activities, do not hesitate to call on us.
Turning to the main estimates, overall this year we're asking Parliament for $143.4 million more than in the 2007-08 main estimates. That would bring our total projected expenditure for the 2008-09 fiscal year to $1.68 billion.
The top three elements that drive this increase are the following. There is $41 million for the integrated commercial fisheries initiatives on both coasts. You will recall that these initiatives are to increase the participation of first nations fish harvesters in integrated commercial fisheries. There is $40.6 million for mid-shore patrol vessels under the coast guard. The renewal of the fleet will, as you can imagine, strengthen our capacity to protect fisheries and enhance maritime security. There is $21.8 million for fisheries science research, directed towards stock assessment and ecosystem-based management.
There is just under $20 million for permanent annual funding to the small craft harbours program. As you know, this offsets what would have been a loss to the program of the same amount because of temporary funding that was about to expire.
We've also set out in our report on plans and priorities the program priorities we have, and we would be quite pleased to speak to those.
I will now ask Mr. Hegge to take us through the financial elements of the estimates and the RPP.
I believe you will have received the document and the presentation that we sent to the committee.
Good morning, Chair and members.
I'm going to be speaking fairly briefly to the overview of the 2008-09 estimates.
I'm on page 3. You can see what the deputy has already mentioned, the increase between last year's estimates and the current year's estimates. The chart basically shows the information broken down between the two years by the various codes.
On page 4 the same information is presented somewhat differently, showing the increases and decreases again by vote, which overall shows the increase of $143.4 million, main estimates over main estimates.
I'm not going to belabour page 5, because the deputy has already highlighted the areas of largest increase. It's with respect again to the various votes. All of this is basically the same information, just presented in a little different format.
Page 6 shows the decreases in main estimates. The net effect, of course, is the increase of $143 million, but there are some increases and there have been some decreases. Page 6 speaks to the decreases. Among the main ones, the first item, which we're calling “Budget 2007 Cost Efficiencies”, is basically code for the procurement reform initiative; all departments have to contribute from their reference levels to it.
Just as an aside, that number will go up progressively over the next three years, resulting in about $17 million in savings by fiscal year 2011-12.
The employee benefit plan is essentially an adjustment, which reflects the government's needs in the areas of employee benefits, including CPP, employment insurance, etc.
“International Fisheries and Governance” shows a decrease, but we're actually getting that money back through budget 2008, which I'll speak to a bit later.
The last one I would just highlight is the IMIT consolidation. That's a sunsetted project for which we receive money from Treasury Board. The bulk of that project has been implemented, and so, comparing last year with this year, there's a reduction in that area.
On page 7 we show the main estimates by program activity. I think the committee is familiar with the program activity architecture of the department, which essentially has three strategic outcomes and nine activities. This chart basically shows the distribution of the main estimates among the nine activities.
I would highlight that these figures include the enablers. We've discussed this from time to time, but the enablers, including corporate services, finance, executive services, etc., are apportioned out to the various activities. You have the enabler amounts reflected in those activities on this particular chart.
Page 8 again shows the same basic figure of $1,682.0 million. This chart shows the main estimates by sector and for the coast guard, and it shows the enablers separately. The enablers again, as I mentioned earlier, are communications, corporate services, executive direction, etc.
Small craft harbours directorate, which is of particular interest to this committee, is, as I think you're aware, organizationally under HRCS—Human Resources and Corporate Services—and we've shown the small craft harbours directorate separately on that chart.
Page 9 shows again the same basis, but distributed by region, including a fairly large amount for national programs. A big part of the national programs is the “major capital” segment, which basically over the year is allocated to the regions for the delivery of capital projects.
I'll dwell on page 10 for a couple of minutes. As the deputy indicated, it basically is the crosswalk between the main estimates and the report on plans and priorities and in that regard is a more accurate reflection of what we will likely be spending this year. If I take you to the bottom row, where we have the total planned spending, again you'll see the $1,682 million, which is the figure for main estimates.
Then there is a column of adjustments, the largest of which is for the fleet renewal, which takes us to planned spending for this year, 2008-09, of $1,738.4 million. Basically, these are expenditures that we have essentially negotiated with Treasury Board and that have come up after the main estimates were tabled.
So it's a bit of a moving feast in this regard, if you will, to try to get an accurate projection of what we're actually going to spend this year. This is a more realistic figure, adding the adjustments to the main estimates.
Then the third part of this, if you will, is the budget 2008 announcements, which are going to increase our planned spending again, but this is subject to our actually getting the appropriations from Parliament and the proper approvals. We've highlighted on page 11 the amounts we anticipate getting as a result of budget 2008 and over the three-year planning cycle.
If you would direct your attention to 2008-09, that figure of $1,767.9 million, again, all things being equal that we get the proper authorities, is actually a closer reflection of what we anticipate spending for this fiscal year.
On page 12 we take the report on plans and priorities planned spending, that figure of $1,738.4 million, and show that again by the activities within our program activity architecture. Again, in this chart the enablers have been distributed among the program activities. Then on page 13 we have again the planned spending by sector and the Canadian Coast Guard with the enablers shown separately.
Page 14 is a bit of an overview or a summary, if you will, where we take the main estimates figure, add in the adjustments that evolved after main estimates were tabled or in the course.... Anyway, the timing was out of sequence to be included in the main estimates. This gives us that total planned spending for 2008-09 of $1,738.4 million, which again, does not include the money we anticipate getting as a result of budget 2008.
Then, finally, on pages 15 and 16 we have the planned spending broken down by program activity over the three-year planning cycle, including this fiscal year right up to 2010 and 2011.
That concludes my presentation, Mr. Chair.
Certainly. Thank you for the question.
Discussions on the issues around the salmon runs—and I will put the species, salmon, as plural—have started and have been going on for quite some time with, I would say, all the stakeholders along the coast and within the river system, because the returns last year were so low and the predictions for this year are in fact fairly low and in a critical situation. The discussions have been going on now for some months with first nations, commercial fishers, and harvesters.
Obviously our intent is to develop and to continue to develop, as we have in the past, what we call “integrated fisheries management plans”, in order to be able to deal, as we always do, with conservation as the first priority; the second element, which is the constitutionally protected food, social, and ceremonial purposes; and then look at what availabilities there might be, if at all, for commercial and recreational activity, which is not likely to be the case in many instances for species this year.
The discussions have started. They have been started now for close to three months. They started, actually, almost as soon as the season ended.
With regard to the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the discussions have in fact been going on throughout the fall. We believe that in the next two months, at the outset, we will be coming to a conclusion on those fronts. There are a couple of issues on which we are still in discussions with the U.S., but we are all very concerned, and it is a partnership approach that we are taking with regard to the management of the species.
I don't know if Madame Dansereau would like to add to that.
Okay. Thank you for that.
Another issue that was brought up already was on COSEWIC. There are a number of species that are listed now under COSEWIC and there are a number of those species that could be listed under SARA. I've got two points to my question.
First, I would hope that before any species is listed, there is additional science done, that the science is repeated, and that you look to the fishery itself, to the fishermen themselves, to see if that species is actually out there or not. Where I'm headed with that is on cusk. There is some discussion that cusk could be listed under SARA.
When you speak to the fishermen themselves, they will tell you that there is a fair amount of cusk on the east coast in areas that cusk tend to inhabit.
The trawl survey that was done--the dragger survey--didn't find any cusk because cusk crawl into holes on the bottom; they get under rocks and they tend to inhabit areas that any dragger fisherman wouldn't put a drag in, because it's too rocky and too rough.
However, the longline fishermen are catching cusk, and the lobster fishermen in certain areas get some cusk in their lobster traps. So if this species were to be listed under SARA, you would shut down a longline fishery, which is certainly a most non-invasive fishery, and you would shut down a trap fishery, which is a non-destructive fishery, in all possibility on science that was done.... And someone has to ask the question: was it done deliberately so they wouldn't find cusk? Why did you use gear that traditionally never catches cusk?