Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good afternoon everyone. I am not used to making presentations before committees. I hope that everything will go well and that the next hour will be enjoyable and, in particular, rewarding. That is the point of this exercise.
I am here to help you learn about and understand the process through which consultants go in order to provide services to the federal government and, in particular, to help you manage and maintain the federal government's buildings and properties.
I will introduce myself. My name is André Beaulieu. I am an engineer and I head up a firm that specializes in building envelopes. In case you are wondering, the building envelope is everything that makes up the exterior shell of the building. It is not structural, but rather everything that protects the building from the outside elements, such as rain and snow. So this means stone siding, brick siding, roofing, vinyl siding, and so on. It consists of all the outside components. So my firm specializes in that area and currently provides services to the government through SNC-Lavalin.
We have worked on nearly all the major buildings in the region, including Esplanade Laurier, Terrasses de la Chaudière, phases I, II, III and IV of Place du Portage, the Jeanne-Mance Building and the Jean-Talon Building. So we have worked on major buildings, and we are working in cooperation with SNC-Lavalin, which currently manages the building maintenance.
My intention here today is not to penalize or blame anyone or to criticize the operations or approach used by SNC-Lavalin. What I do want to do is to shed some light for you on how SNC-Lavalin manages building maintenance for the federal government.
I mention SNC-Lavalin because, as you are no doubt aware, that company is managing the buildings, but it is not the first company to do so. Through Public Works Canada, the federal government held a bidding process in 1999. Through that process, the firm BLJC was awarded a contract to manage the government's buildings. That company was later replaced by SNC-Lavalin, which currently manages the maintenance of the federal government's real property across Canada, but more specifically in this region. That is where my concern and interest lie. I do not think that the rules are any different for the rest of the country, since this same company is managing all of the real property.
SNC-Lavalin, which has been tasked by Public Works Canada through a bidding process to manage the maintenance of the federal government's buildings, hires the services of professionals. SNC-Lavalin is a maintenance manager and therefore requires the assistance of engineering firms, architectural firms and firms specializing in building construction, repair and maintenance.
To that end, SNC-Lavalin has us sign contracts and service agreements for a limited period. In our case, the agreement with SNC-Lavalin has just been renewed until 2013. So SNC-Lavalin gives us a contract, tells us that we are an accredited consultant and that we have the knowledge, skills and everything necessary to do business with SNC-Lavalin and assist it with maintenance management.
That said, when we have a contract with SNC-Lavalin, it is clearly indicated that there is no obligation, despite the contract, to provide us with any work. Our services may be called for at some point. So SNC-Lavalin has no obligation to us and is not required in any way to retain our services to prepare plans, specifications, appraisals or anything else involved in building maintenance.
It means that, from the time it awards us a contract, SNC-Lavalin has total responsibility—up to now, as far as we know—for federal government real property maintenance and carries its mandate out secretly. I say “secretly” because nothing is known about the contract between SNC-Lavalin and Public Works Canada. We don't know if SNC-Lavalin is required to call for tenders to procure professional services. We do not know if it is required to call for tenders regarding the fees for professionals to assist it with its management activities. So when SNC-Lavalin does deign to hold a bidding process, no one—except SNC-Lavalin—knows how much the bids are, which companies are called on to bid and what the outcomes are.
That means that SNC-Lavalin can decide to ask professionals to bid by invitation only. Only SNC-Lavalin knows the identity of these professionals. It can then decide to award the contract to one of the firms that it has invited to submit a bid. Only SNC-Lavalin knows which firms submit bids and what the outcome of the process is.
I am not saying that this is the case, but you can understand that this kind of process could easily open the door to cronyism and kickbacks. Everything is secret, nothing is disclosed, nothing is known. We have no idea of the rules governing SNC-Lavalin under its contract with Public Works and Government Services Canada. We did know the rules when we dealt with Public Works and Government Services Canada. We have had a number of contracts with Public Works and Government Services Canada, and we knew what the rules were. We knew that Public Works and Government Services Canada could award contracts directly to a consultant if the fees were under $25,000. With SNC-Lavalin, we know nothing. With Public Works, we knew that if the contract was for a certain amount, there had to be a public call for tenders. With SNC-Lavalin, we have no idea whether that is the case.
So we are completely in the dark and have no idea whether our services have been retained. When SNC-Lavalin does retain our services, we do not know what process was used. Recently, there was work to be done on the Louis-St-Laurent Building, which is 1.5 kilometres from our office. We know the SNC-Lavalin building manager. So we asked if there was some work to be done, and we were told that a roofing consultant would be needed. That was good news, since that is our specialty. We are only 1.5 kilometres away and we have already done business with them.
We were told that we would be called on to submit a bid. However, the next thing we knew, the contract had been awarded to a Montreal firm. We heard nothing about any bidding process. We do not know why we were not invited to submit a bid. So the government's building may be well managed or poorly managed, but we are in the dark. Anything that is not transparent has a tendency to get dirty.
We want to help the federal government manage its buildings properly and do so at a reasonable cost. My only objective here today is to ensure the government's money is spent properly, and in particular, fairly.
Thank you, Mr. Warkentin.
Good afternoon, Mr. Beaulieu.
SNC-Lavalin manages 319 buildings in the Ottawa and Montreal regions and in other places. These are large buildings. There are more buildings than that throughout Canada because they are of all different kinds. Here we are referring to large buildings in the federal capital region. One hundred and thirty-eight thousand of Canada's 522,000 government employees are in this region. These office buildings allow federal government workers to do their job.
Mr. Beaulieu, I would like you to know that on September 2, 2009, I wrote a letter to Minister Paradis, who was responsible at the time for Public Works and Government Services Canada. I wrote the same letter again on March 15 when Ms. Ambrose became the minister responsible for PWGSC, and I wrote again to Ms. Ambrose on this topic on April 13.
I am the member for this region. Therefore, the problem that you have raised here is frequently mentioned by small- and medium-sized enterprises and by larger firms. It's not transparent. There is something strange going on for building specialists. In the Outaouais region on the Quebec side, we are even more heavily penalized if we compare Gatineau to Ottawa. Only 1.4% of contracts are awarded to Gatineau businesses, whereas 98.6% of these contracts are awarded on the Ottawa side, which is absolutely shameful. And yet, there is much more expertise on the Quebec side, and you are a representative of this.
I hope this gives people an idea of what is going on. I presume that the people from PWGSC and from SNC-Lavalin are listening. I especially hope that the people from PWGSC are listening because we're talking about elected officials. The minister is responsible for PWGSC, not for SNC-Lavalin.
If I understand correctly, this is about awarding contracts. Now, contracts are awarded upon invitation by SNC-Lavalin. Certain businesses, specialists or engineers are invited to bid. These are no longer public calls for tender. So we're going from a public system paid for by the taxpayers to a non transparent system where SNC Lavalin issues invitations to companies it selects, as if it were the owner of all these buildings, the federal government's building inventory.
We are currently following up on a lead. We heard things in March concerning certain invoices. Apparently, it cost $5,000 to replace six lightbulbs under the contracts awarded by SNC-Lavalin to certain people. And we don't know how they were awarded, Mr. Chair.
There was a $36,000 invoice for office cleaning. This was to clean the offices of federal ministers. Two thousand dollars was paid for green plants—I don't know what was so special about them—and up to $1,000 was paid to install doorbells. It's absolutely appalling. It's unacceptable.
What do you understand from this system? On the one hand, there is a public method of awarding contracts, and on the other hand, there are invitations issued to bid on contracts.
We only deal with project directors at SNC-Lavalin. We work regularly with them. They are people we know well, to whom we provide services and who use our services regularly.
On Friday, I asked one of the project directors at SNC-Lavalin what the rules are that govern them. I asked her what the process was, for example, for a contract that had been awarded to a Montreal firm and why we had not been invited to bid. She told me that she was not authorized to disclose the rules or the process used or to explain how things worked or why people do and do not have to bid. If you give me a contract, but you don't tell me what its parameters are or what rules I must follow, it is hard for me to provide services in accordance with the price that I will bid.
It is too bad, because when PWGSC managed the federal government buildings, the rules were better known and more clearly defined. I do not know what happened when the contract was transferred to SNC-Lavalin, but some rules got lost along the way. Certain words disappeared from contract documents. This means we are now in the dark. It is all managed by the private sector.
I am not saying that SNC-Lavalin is a bad company, but it is working in the dark, and that means that we do not know the value of our work.
Absolutely, because we are bound by the obligation to perform.
Currently, we are dealing with the National Research Council of Canada, where a building will be renovated. As we have been hired to do the drawings for all the outer walls—which are made of glass—we met with the people from the council. When they presented us with their documents and drawings, we explained to them that their plan had faults and shortcomings. They told us that they had nevertheless spent two years drawing them. A private business would have drawn those plans in six months and there would probably have been fewer flaws. The people at the council have more time; they are not obliged to be profitable when they do a drawing. Therefore, they can take much more time, that is not a problem. They can stretch that out over several years. But for a private business, there is an obligation to be accountable.
For example, if you ask me for a quote to examine your house and I tell you it will cost $1,000, I cannot spend six months with you because I am only charging you $1,000. I must therefore be cost-effective. If I tell you it will be $1,000, I will do the work within a week so that it will not be too costly and so that you will have good performance.
Therefore, because of this obligation to be accountable, it is always more beneficial and cost-effective for government organizations to do business with private businesses.
Apples to apples--that's real competition. I think you need to have that open. Even in the construction industry they structure themselves, with the bidding process they have in their construction associations, so there is that honesty and you can test the marketplace effectively. I think we've gone down a very dangerous road here.
We had similar testimony regarding the IT services for the Government of Canada. Some of the small contractors came to this committee and said it almost seemed that the government had bundled the work into a package so large that only a select few companies could compete.
SNC-Lavalin is like the Wal-Mart of engineering, in a sense. I think it undermines and defeats small and medium-sized entrepreneurs from taking part in all the procurement of government services out there for building management.
I don't know if I have any further questions, other than to say I'm very sympathetic to the facts you've brought to us here and to your situation as a small, honest, local businessman who would like to be able to participate directly with the federal government.
I can tell you that when we write this report I will be in support of Mr. Nadeau's position that we should revisit the awarding of these government maintenance contracts to ensure that small and medium-sized businesses like yours have a fair opportunity to deal directly with the federal government.
If I have any time left I will share it with my colleague, Mr. Nadeau, if he has any other questions.
Mr. Beaulieu, first of all, thank you for coming here. Thank you also for being so frank with us in explaining the difficulties you are facing.
Last year, our committee studied the way the government dealt with small and medium-sized businesses, particularly with respect to information technology. In the future, the government may want—it should be noted that at present everything has been put on ice—to award large IT contracts.
Our committee looked into the way small and medium-sized businesses participate in government contracts. We feel—the committee was unanimous on this—that small and medium-sized businesses, both in Canada and in Quebec, are what drive the economy. The government has the moral obligation to encourage these companies and to enable them to live, to exist and work in accordance with a clear process.
Back then, we studied the MERX process. We were told, here in the committee, that there were no problems, that MERX operated very well and that small and medium-sized businesses had access to government contracts.
However, we were not told about the matter you raised; namely, that when a large corporation, such as SNC-Lavalin, has sole responsibility for managing a contract, it is impossible, unless I am mistaken, for anyone to see how and to whom it offers these contracts, because it has the authority to keep all of this a secret. Is that correct?
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Beaulieu.
It's always interesting to sit in on a committee of which one is not a regular member—and I'm not a regular member of this committee. It seems to be an unusual committee process to have you here before we have the Public Works folks here to give some context to the situation.
I notice when I look at the notes the analysts have provided for us that following a process that PWGSC considers fair, transparent, and competitive, the department awarded eight AFD—alternative forms of delivery—contracts to SNC of Toronto, Ontario. These contracts took effect April 1, 2005, which I guess would have been under the previous government, and for an initial duration of four years.
Your company would have received contracts in a competitive procurement process right around that same time, before and after that date, and won some government contracts. Would you agree those contracts at the time were awarded in an open and transparent manner?
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee.
My name is Bill Pentney. I am the associate deputy minister of the Department of National Defence. The deputy minister unfortunately is out of town. He sends his regrets.
I'm here with my colleagues: Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau, who is the vice-chief of defence staff; Kevin Lindsey, who is the assistant deputy minister, finance and corporate services and our chief financial officer; and Cynthia Binnington, who is the assistant deputy minister for civilian human resources in the department.
Mr. Chair, we welcome this committee's interest in how Budget 2010 measures will affect our operations. I want to assure committee members that DND and the Canadian Forces are well situated to manage these budget measures and to continue to deliver the results that Canadians expect.
Just as Canadians take pride in the recent accomplishments of our sailors, soldiers and air personnel supporting the RCMP during the Vancouver Olympics—we succeeded in fulfilling our specific mandate, that is, to ensure the safety of the athletes during a sports event—assisting the people of Haiti following January's catastrophic earthquake, and bringing hope for a better future to the people of Afghanistan. They can look to the future with assurance.
This June, the Canadian Forces will again work to support the RCMP when leaders of the world converge on Ontario for the G8 and G20 Summits. At home and abroad, the men and women of the Canadian Forces will continue to operate in a proud, effective and efficient manner.
Before getting into Budget 2010, I would like to remind the committee of what has happened with Defence spending over the last several years.
Recent governments have made significant investments in defence, and in order to understand the impact of the budget measures outlined in Budget 2010 it's important to put this into the context of recent history. Budget 2005 and 2006 afforded significant new baseline resources for the Department of National Defence. These two budgets provided increases that amounted to an overall annual increase of about $4.5 billion to National Defence's annual funding base. These increases were phased in over a number of years and have been fully implemented effective this current fiscal year.
In 2008 the government released the Canada First defence strategy as a detailed road map for the modernization of the Canadian Forces that would underline a long-term road map that really extends over the next 20 years. So our planning horizon is very much a long-term planning horizon.
The strategy pledged stable and predictable defence funding over the next 20 years and provided for an increase in the annual defence escalator, from 1.5% to 2% commencing in fiscal year 2011-12. It laid out plans for necessary investments and the four capability pillars that are core to a military capability: personnel, infrastructure, equipment, and readiness. Progress has been made in each of these pillars. Over the past year the government announced significant investments in defence infrastructure, both building new infrastructure and recapitalizing some of our aging infrastructure portfolio. There have also been major announcements in equipment, both meeting urgent needs in Afghanistan, such as delivering Chinook helicopters and unmanned area vehicles to the troops, and recapitalizing the baseline, the basic fleet, with, for example, an announcement of $5 billion towards a whole family of land combat vehicles that will equip the army beyond Afghanistan and for the future.
We are looking forward to the delivery in June of the new C-130J Hercules aircraft, the workhorse of the air force--six months ahead of schedule, I would note.
Last summer the government announced a contract for the purchase of 15 medium- to heavy-lift helicopters, and we expect our first delivery in three years. In addition to that, there's been a series of announcements to refurbish existing fleets, such as the destroyers and frigates in the navy and CF-18s.
On the personnel side, recruitment efforts are continuing to deliver impressive results for both regular and reserve forces and attrition is diminishing. During the fiscal year that just ended, the regular force grew by 2,200 personnel, which is the best net increase we have achieved in recent years. So we've made encouraging progress in attracting individuals generally to join the armed forces and specifically to what we refer to as stress trades, trades where we need particular individuals. Unlike many government departments, we run the full gamut of high-end policy analysts to high-end welders and electricians. So we employ trades in support particularly of our navy and other fleets throughout the country. Civilian public servants continue to play a critical role as crucial members of the integrated team.
Budget 2010 reaffirmed the government's pledge to increase the defence budget annually. But with the size of the defence budget equal to roughly one-fifth of federal government program spending, we expected the department would be affected by the government's need to address the economic and fiscal situation. As you know, the budget contained two key measures that affect the department. First, like other departments, DND and the Canadian Forces will have to absorb a freeze on operating budgets. Effectively, that will mean that we have to absorb increases for civilian and military personnel of 1.5% this year, and that freeze in operating budgets will carry on until 2012 and 2013.
In addition, as you know, the budget also included provisions to slow the rate of previously planned growth for DND by $525 million in 2012-13 and $1 billion annually thereafter.
We expect the implications of these measures to be manageable. The key, and I underline “the key”, and exception here is that defence spending will continue to grow. While defence will be subject to the overall operating budget constraint announced in Budget 2010, the defence escalator will continue to apply. As a result, the budget will continue to increase, just at a slower rate of growth.
The timing of these measures allows us sufficient time to adjust our long-term expenditure plans. As an organization, we will strive to protect the essential tenets of the Canada First defence strategy and minimize the impact of a slowdown in funding growth through our work on strategic review, which will be completed in this fiscal year. The strategic review, which all government departments have been asked to undergo over the last four years--we're in the last year of the cycle--will help us determine if there are implications requiring adjustments to the Canada First defence strategy planning assumptions across all four capability pillars: equipment, infrastructure, readiness, and personnel. We're also carrying out a close examination of other possible internal efficiencies.
We are a huge and decentralized organization with a high operational tempo. We've had significant growth in recent years in both people and dollars. It's time to conduct a thorough review of what we're doing and how we're doing it. In conducting that review, we'll continue to focus on where it's been, on increasing effectiveness and efficiency, on delivering on our core roles, and on meeting the priorities and expectations of Canadians.
Mr. Chair, we're confident that we can manage the impact of Budget 2010 in a manner that allows us to stay the course in terms of the Canada First defence strategy. The key here, and I've underlined it, is the time associated with delivering on a long-term defence plan and having the time to implement the adjustments that are announced in Budget 2010.
The department and the Canadian Forces are in solid shape to weather the current financial realities and to continue to deliver what Canadians expect of us. We're also working hard to find further efficiencies and to address the short-term challenges--because there are short-term challenges--while keeping our eye on our long-term plan.
With those opening remarks, Mr. Chair, I welcome the questions of the committee.
I'll just note that we are a bit short of time, so I will try to split my time with my colleague, Ms. Coady. If we have additional time for a second round, that would be great.
Thank you all very much for being here.
You get to choose who is best to answer. My question is not specifically on how you're going to manage the freeze. You've addressed it here, and I want to give you absolute support for conducting a thorough review of what we're doing and how we're doing it, because I think everybody should be doing that on a regular basis.
You said that you will focus on increasing efficiency and effectiveness, on your core roles--and here's the key--and on meeting the priorities of Canadians. I looked at the budgets from 2004-05 through to 2008-09. The budget went from about $14 billion to $14.5 billion, $16 billion, $17 billion, $18.5 billion, and $19 billion plus. I thought we were ending our engagement in Afghanistan in 2011. Historically, when Canada has been at war, we've spent a lot of money being at war. Then, when we've stopped being at war, we have reduced spending rather dramatically.
I'm very curious. I understand that there's this long-term plan, but no longer engaging in what has proved to be a very expensive war strikes me as being something that would end up reducing our costs. Can one of you please explain to me where we should be saving money because we're no longer going to be engaging in Afghanistan the way we are? And thus, what is the real delta in terms of increased allocations for this long-term plan?
Mr. Chair, I can start, and others can either correct me or fill in.
Underlying the government's commitment to the Canada First defence strategy is really a twofold pledge. One is to have an annual defence escalator and to continue to grow the budget. The second is to provide incremental funding for the cost of deployed operations.
We have about 68,000 soldiers whose salaries we're paying now. Just late last week we sent planes full of soldiers to Afghanistan on that deployment. The incremental extra costs incurred, over and above their baseline salaries--the cost of paying their allowances, feeding them, and all of that--are incremental to the ordinary baseline. They are provided from the government through a separate funding line, as approved by cabinet.
The deployment to Haiti, which got such public attention, added incremental costs to the Canadian Forces. So over and above the baseline costs and the funding line you see set out in the budget for reinvestment in capital equipment, infrastructure, and people, it costs us more when we send those people on major missions overseas, as it does in Afghanistan and as it did in Haiti. There's a separate allocation provided to the Canadian Forces and the department to offset those costs.
Mr. Chairman, I'll just lead off and then the vice-chief will pick up on it.
This is a long-term business, and the capabilities of which Canadians are so proud, which we see on display in Afghanistan and in Haiti--and less on display during the Olympics, but they were there in the background during the Olympics--are not capabilities that were bought at Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart last week.
You don't grow a long-term military capability in equipment, personnel, command and control, and all that needs to come together at the moment to deliver the results and express the values of which Canadians are so proud, in a short-term way.
So the long-term planning horizon for us, like other departments of defence or militaries, is really absolutely vital. That's because we're making investments now that are going to shape the future of the Canadian Forces, and what Canadians can expect the forces to do for the next 10, 15, or 20 years. Today we're the beneficiaries of the decisions that were made 10 or 20 years ago--or in some cases 30 or 40 years ago, unfortunately--in terms of some of the equipment and the capabilities we're using today.
The vice-chief can elaborate.
I think where we are is 1.2% of GDP. And in terms of comparators, I believe the Americans, on their baseline, are over 4%. I'm not sure that anyone in the world compares to them, at least in terms of reported figures, although I think there are some doubts that what some countries are reporting actually represents the full extent of their military expenditures.
It's difficult to measure comparison by comparison in terms of baselines, partly because of the incremental funding--to reference a question I answered earlier--in terms of the total fiscal commitment that Canadians are making in support of their military, whether at home or abroad.
I can say that many countries are looking at making difficult trade-offs right now in terms of the level of investment in their military that they can afford. You've seen it in white papers in France, and you're seeing a debate in the U.K. right now. There continue to be debates, even with the truly amazing amount of money the Americans are pouring into defence, about whether they're getting the results they need and whether they've got enough.
So a number of countries are facing difficult choices about what their level of appetite and ambition is, on the one side, versus their emerging fiscal realities on the other, and there are many NATO countries that are like that.
It's also fair to say that within NATO there are a number of relatively new entrants to NATO that don't have the fiscal capability of Canada or other countries but are also stepping up to the plate, whether through allocations of troops on the ground in Afghanistan or investments in equipment, where they can afford it.
Canada, it's fair to say, right now is engaged in a pretty substantial recapitalization of the Canadian Forces. As I indicated in my opening remarks, the baseline funding for defence has gone from $12 billion to $13 billion up to a baseline now of, give or take, $21 billion. So there's been a quite substantial reset in the baseline and in the escalator built in over time. So it's a significant investment in defence.
If you'd like, we can come back to you with the specifics in terms of the comparators. We don't have them here with us today.
Thank you for joining us today.
I suppose if we're starting to compare ourselves to the Americans, it's no comparison, since they spend, I understand, more than everybody else in the world combined for their own superpower or strategic reasons. I don't think we hope to, or would want to, try to compete with that on a per capita basis or otherwise.
I want to get down to some specifics here. You were asked some questions about the reserves, and I know the reserves are very important, not only for support in Afghanistan in terms of 20% of our capabilities there, but they're also important to our capacity. I'm just looking here at a sheet on the navy and naval reserves indicating that for active personnel it's 10,900, and reserve personnel are 4,100, so obviously the reserves are a very important part of the overall commitment. But I keep hearing, and it's anecdotal, from one part of the country to the other--and various members of Parliament have mentioned it to me--that the reserve budgets are being cut or the training allowance is being cut, people are being laid off, or even just the training budget is being cut.
I understand you're trying to avoid affecting operations, but can you tell us what these adjustments actually have consisted of in the last year? “Adjustment” is a nice fancy word probably for reductions in expenditures. Can you tell us what the reductions were from the beginning of the year, what the allocation was for the year, and what was adjusted downwards over the year? Can you give us those numbers?
I have another question.
We've been contacted by someone from Petawawa telling us a story, an anecdotal story but with specifics, and I wonder if it represents problems elsewhere within your finances. This is on the civilian side. Buses are used to transport troops to various events, and my understanding is that there's an overtime freeze for civilian personnel, and in this particular case the Canadian Forces will contract out a bus for $400 or $500 if there happens to be a bus requirement for an hour before a shift starts, rather than paying an hour of overtime to a regular permanent employee, which might cost $30 or $40.
That seems to me to be obviously inefficient, potentially wasteful, but the rationale seems to be that they're not permitted to transfer money from an operation and maintenance budget, where the contracting is, to a salary and wages budget, where the overtime freeze is.
Have you come across that as a problem? Has it been brought to your attention? Is it a regular problem? Is that kind of inflexibility inherent in your budgeting process, or would that be an anomaly?
Thank you. I'd be pleased to speak to that particular issue.
Use of term employees within a large organization like ours is an important part of our flexibility in terms of managing our workforce. As you know, we've had very significant operational pressures and we've had a very large number of our military personnel deployed and moved into other activities, particularly during this period of high operations.
On the periods of time for term employees, it is very much Treasury Board policy, as the employer. It's the Government of Canada policy, which we respect and oversee and try to ensure it's well communicated to our managers. When there are pressures, people are asked to take a look at the risks associated with managing their overall long-term costs.
We've certainly instructed people and have recently provided some clarification around ensuring that we not only respect the policy, but the spirit of the policy, and watch how terms are used and align our business planning and our human resources, our people management planning. So we work very hard at trying to ensure that kind of thing doesn't happen, that we keep and respect the policies of the board and collective agreements.