I just want to correct something, for the record. Mr. Macaulay is the assistant commissioner of human resources. He left the RCMP to join us, and for us that was a tremendous win. So I try not to remind him of his RCMP background too much so that he would want to go back there.
Anyway, good morning, Mr. Chair and committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the measures the Correctional Service of Canada is taking to adjust our operations in light of the departmental budget freeze.
As you may recall, I first appeared before the committee last October to discuss this issue. At that time I laid out for you some of the measures Correctional Service Canada was taking to ensure that we could continue to produce positive public safety results for Canadians in an environment of fiscal restraint. Today I would like to provide you with some more detailed information about our efforts. I will also address the issue of the Parliamentary Budget Officer's most recent report. Finally, I'd like to provide you with more information about our recruitment efforts in light of an anticipated growth in our offender population.
With respect to Correctional Service Canada's annual budget, personnel costs represent our largest expenditure. For fiscal year 2010-11, Correctional Service Canada's overall budget is $2.46 billion. Personnel expenditures, including salaries and benefits, represent 61.2% of the budget, or $1.5 billion. The rest is dedicated to operating costs, which represent 25.4% of our budget, or $625 million, and capital investments, which is 13.4%, or $329 million, of our total financial expenditures.
One final figure will be of interest to you. For CSC, the reduction identified as part of the containment measures in this fiscal year 2010-11, $4.8 million, is the figure that has been identified for our reduction target, which excludes the employee benefit plan and Public Works and Government Services costs.
You may remember from my appearance last fall that the vast majority, about 90%, of CSC's operating budget is non-discretionary and quasi-statutory. This includes fixed costs that we must fund on a continuous basis, such as the provision of food to offenders, utilities, staff uniforms, and payment in lieu of taxes to municipalities. The remaining 10% provides us with some opportunity and flexibility in seeking out ways for us to meet the freeze on operating costs. In addition, we have undertaken rigorous efforts to reduce our overtime costs by implementing new staff deployment standards for correctional officers and by utilizing a computerized roster system to ensure that we are efficiently staffed on a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week basis.
I'm proud to say that between 2008-09 and 2009-10, we were able to reduce our overtime costs from $83 million annually to $52 million. This year we targeted further reductions in our overtime budget, and we are well on track toward achieving our goals. As of December 2010, our overtime expenditures were at $31 million, compared to $36 million in December 2009. As you can see, we've already realized an additional $5 million in efficiencies.
In addition, we have achieved over $5 million in savings from a more rigorous approach to managing travel and hospitality expenditures. Furthermore, we are studying efficiencies in programming by piloting an innovative integrated correctional program model in the Pacific region.
This approach reduces redundancies and overlap in some of the programs we offer to offenders, and ensures a more timely delivery of programs to offenders while maintaining the quality of content and staff training. The preliminary findings of the pilot program are showing efficiencies in delivery and staff training, and promising operational cost-effectiveness.
Another means of ensuring that we have the right people in the right place at the right time has been the integration of our human resources, business planning methods, and our risk profile. This helps CSC to forecast our staffing and recruitment needs more accurately, which is particularly important for us in this time of renewal and change.
To this end, we have developed and implemented a strategic plan for human resource management for the 2009-12 timeframe, and will be updating this following the upcoming budget speech. This overarching framework integrates our business lines as laid out in the program activity architecture and our report on plans and priorities. It commits to focusing on three strategic priorities: building relationships and engaging our partners, building on our foundation, and investing in our people.
Through this strategic alignment of our resources with our corporate priorities, we are ensuring that people and the financial resources we have are focused and directed in step with the organization's overall goals.
This provides me with a good segue to discussing the recent comments surrounding the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, and the perception that CSC wilfully did not respond to Mr. Page's request for information about our human resource plans.
I would like to assure the members of the committee that this is simply not the case. We received the request, and it was being processed through our internal channels. However, there was a human error that resulted in the file not being submitted in time to meet the deadline. I can assure you that going forward there will be increased monitoring and managerial oversight to guard against repetitions of this type of incident. I regret that our strategic human resources plan was not sent to Mr. Page's office on time. However, the report is, and was, available in full on our website.
This brings me to the final area I'd like to address this morning, which is a part of our human resource plan today and in the future. It is the hiring of additional staff to address the growth we expect to see in our offender population as a result of recent legislative initiatives. We expect we will need over 4,000 new employees to ensure that we can continue to manage our anticipated offender population growth in the coming years.
Our strategic HR framework will guide us with these efforts, and the funds we requested and received from Parliament will ensure that we can allocate the resources we need to handle any influx of offenders who may come our way. We have built internal planning and forecasting tools, in line with the "building on our foundation" priority, to project the number of correctional officers and parole officers we will need over the next 24 to 36 months.
We have mapped this against traditional attrition rates, together with existing and projected resourcing levels, to develop a clear plan to ensure that we have the people in place to manage our complex and diverse offender population. Under the "building relationships and engaging our partners" priority, we have reached out to the RCMP in order to collaborate with them for the delivery of some of our correctional officer recruit training at their facility in Regina, Depot Division. This partnership will ensure that CSC will be able to increase its internal capacity to deliver the comprehensive and rigorous training required for our new correctional officers, while not taking away from CSC's ability to meet the training needs of our other front-line employees such as our parole officers. As part of the "investing in our people" priority, we have undertaken work to revitalize our national training standards and our ability to track training for all staff to ensure they are prepared to accomplish the work they are expected to perform.
I am confident that CSC is well equipped to adapt and continue to provide good public safety results while meeting our financial targets.
I want to thank you again for the opportunity to update you on some of the initiatives we are putting in place to manage our budget. I would be happy to entertain any questions you may have of me at this time.
I'm basically hearing that you're not the least bit concerned, because you've already made the efficiencies within your own budget. You're not concerned about having to hire 4,000 new employees—getting in effect a 6.5% reduction in your budget—I'm still trying to square that peg—even with the savings you've found under deployment and new efficiencies.
I'm going to ask you a question, and this is all about the Truth in Sentencing Act. We look at what the Parliamentary Budget Officer did in looking at that area and the requirements that are going to be needed by the correctional services under that act.
Now, there are many other acts, and I'm just thinking of what's before us today. Bill is before us today. We've got Bill , Bill ; we've got a number of other acts. Bill C-39 is the act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Bill S-10 is an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Bill C-4 is an act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act. They can't be fitting into your plans, I don't think, at this point because you're still going through the process. Yet I think the Conservatives are hoping that the process will come to a quick conclusion.
The impact is going to be layered on top of the Truth in Sentencing Act. Are you not concerned that instead of being tough on crime you're going to be wrong on crime, in the sense that the judicial system will face an overburdened point where criminals may actually not be punished in the right and proper manner?
It's a very good question. Thank you.
There are several factors at play when it comes to overtime expenditures within a correctional system. Some of it's linked to unplanned leave by staff, so when staff become sick and that's not planned, and we haven't planned to replace them. There are times when we have overtime costs because of emergency situations in the institution. Again, they are unplanned for, they occur, and I have to bring in additional staff to address the issue--for example, to respond to a riot in an institution.
As well, we have costs that are driven just because of the nature of the work. If we have an increase in the number of offenders who require outside visits to doctors or hospitals, those are additional costs. We look to see if we have any release staff left on the shift, and if we don't, then we sometimes have to go to overtime.
Most recently, some of our additional costs have been coming as a result of sections 127 and 128 under the Canada Labour Code, when staff feel that the environment is unsafe. We're unable to do certain things until a labour officer eventually comes in and makes a ruling of danger or no danger. We sometimes have to put in extraordinary measures, which are associated with overtime costs as well.
But where we've been putting most of our time and energy over the last few years is on those areas that I classify as controllable overtime, driving that down to the lowest level and then looking at what other options or alternatives are available to address some of the unplanned-overtime issues.
Well, this is travel by public servants, primarily across the country. We do not have as much international travel as we had in the past. That was one of the reduction measures. We've driven those costs down. But we try to find the right balance in terms of learning and development opportunities for the staff. In some cases there still is international travel because some of the best events occur outside of Canada.
In terms of our hospitality, it's just been a very focused effort to say that in these events or these certain types of activities we're not going to fund hospitality using taxpayers' money. This has allowed us to take a much more rigorous approach in managing that and exercising the authorities that managers have in making decisions around hospitality.
This is very much in line with the direction that's been given to most government departments, when their hospitality and travel budgets were frozen at the 2009 levels. We made an internal decision that we're not just going to accept the freeze; we're actually going to reduce the costs, both to help out with any reduction initiatives we have to put in place, and potentially, when we've met those, if there are any additional moneys left over, looking at investing them into some of our other priorities or high-risk areas.
I don't envy the position you're in. It's difficult, because you really don't even know if these bills will ultimately pass, but if they do, you have to be ready to respond to them.
Our side of the table is quite interested in a movement that's going on in the United States on prison reform. It is being spearheaded in part or championed in part by Newt Gingrich, who has clearly said that 30 years of tough-on-crime, lock-'em-up reasoning has been a catastrophic failure in the United States. Not only are they going bankrupt trying to build enough prisons, but the reform is not having the desired effect of safer streets.
This is something that's obviously.... You're not in charge of this kind of policy, but you are in charge of coping with the predictable consequences of this, we think, reckless policy. But the more people we stack up in prison without services and without drug rehabilitation.... It does worry me that people are put back out on the streets sooner or later with the same social problems or lack of social skills they had when they went in.
One of the things they're doing in the United States now is drug rehabilitation. It's a big issue. They're starting to look at drug addiction as an illness and substance abuse as a sickness, not a crime, although it may lead to crime and has to be stemmed for that good reason. I know in the United States there's very little drug rehabilitation or opportunity, other than abstinence from the drug that was your problem. They're not solving the root causes of your substance abuse problems.
What kinds of programs still exist in Canadian penitentiaries to do with substance abuse? Are there mandatory programs that people go into, or are they optional? Do you find funding is adequate in that regard in your system?
That's a very good question and comment.
One of the things we measure ourselves against, in comparison with other correctional jurisdictions, is how we provide programs and interventions to offenders. In comparison with the United States of America, although there are pockets in different states, I consider that we're still one of the leaders in providing services to offenders.
Our overall intervention strategy is made up of three main pieces: education in areas such as substance abuse, violence prevention, and sex offender programming; cognitive skills and living skills programming; and employment skills. These are the three cornerstones of our correctional system. They are responsible for the good public safety results that we've been producing over the years. Part of my job is to go through these exercises in relation to budget reductions and any new legislation and to make sure that our strategy piece is front and centre. At the end of the day, I need to make sure I continue to produce those public safety results.
Now let me put the longer question.
You said that 10% of the budget of the Correctional Service of Canada allow you to have some latitude in your operations. I suppose that the costs of these programs are covered by this 10% of the budget. The Correctional Investigator tells us on page 26 of his report that “programming is key to safe reintegration”. The Correctional Service of Canada recognized in January 2009 “that it needs to augment program capacity in a number of areas.” And you just indicated these areas, which include “programs and interventions for offenders with education and learning deficits, for those with mental health needs, and for those serving short sentences in higher security facilities.” Now, you have a great challenge ahead of you, given the fact that 80% of offenders have not finished high school.
If these programs are essential to social reintegration, how can you carry out your mission, given the very small financial resources that you have, namely 10% of your budget? It can hardly make a dent in all those needs. What are you going to do?
Another very good question, and it gives me an opportunity to clarify.
Most of our program costs are deemed to be statutory or quasi-statutory, so they're actually in the 90%. This isn't an area we would be reducing. That money is basically enveloped or guarded.
As well, we have over the last couple of years received additional moneys as a result of strategic reinvestment to the tune of $48 million. That has allowed me to increase my programs in areas such as violence prevention, our community maintenance program, our aboriginal programming, and our introduction of Pathways units for aboriginal offenders at Stony Mountain. This would also allow for enhancements to our high-offender intake assessment process.
Not only have we guarded the money that we already had for programs, but we've also had an increase over the last couple of years that's allowed me to move forward.
Thank you very much, Chair.
I'd like to thank our guests for coming today to provide really important testimony.
I had a series of questions that I was going to go through, but I guess I want to divert myself. I was struck by something that came up when Mr. Martin was asking some thoughtful questions of you with respect to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
My sense is that the Parliamentary Budget Officer was somewhat critical of the CSC for not providing information on a timely basis and for having, as Mr. Martin said, a heck of a time getting this information. Actually, I share Mr. Martin's surprise that Mr. Page was as critical as he was when.... I always hate to quote my opposition colleagues, and certainly my table colleagues, but I think Mr. Martin was right when he said that all you had to do was press a button to get that information. My first reaction is “sham wow”.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Ed Holder: I'm not sure where the “sham” is, because I find your testimony extremely credible. I'm just really surprised; “wow” is probably the other part of it.
But I want to thank you for your comments. I think that's important.
in French and in English, it is the same thing.
To come back to Madame Bourgeois's important comment, 90% of your budget, as you've indicated, is non-discretionary and quasi-statutory. I've read in your comments here that your budget is $2.46 billion for 2010-11. By my math, 10% of that--the amount that is neither non-discretionary nor quasi-statutory--is some $246 million.
I think by any account that's a fair amount of money. But what makes me very impressed is what you've already done in terms of your savings as it relates to overtime and scheduling and the like. I think you deserve compliments--your department does--because I think that's really quite critical.
On the other side of that is I think a key question. In light of the budget freeze, the freeze that Canadians have to do in their own households right across this country, because that's financial reality.... We all have to be mindful. All departments have been asked to provide freezes in their departments. Do you believe, and are you concerned, that CSC employees will be able to maintain high-quality correctional service in light of this department freeze? I think that's the key question for all Canadians in terms of their safety and our concerns for them.
Yes. At any rate, I just wanted to clarify that.
In terms of the balancing piece, which I think is really what you're talking about, that is one of the things that are of concern to me. I think we're walking a very narrow path, one where, if we teeter the wrong way, we could see a diminution in terms of public safety results.
Although it does sound rather cliché, I am extremely, extremely confident in and proud of my staff, because they are very focused on their role, on their responsibilities, on their responsibilities for Canadians overall. I know that they are extremely focused on trying to find the right answers.
Having said that, are there areas where we can still find some efficiencies without affecting negatively the public safety results? I believe there are. Some of those things are, I guess in layman's terms, “nice to haves” within a correctional organization, but they're not necessarily considered to be value-added from providing public safety results.
Those are things that we are going to have weigh. There's a lot of emotion and passion and ownership around some of those things, but those are the discussions that we're going to be having in the coming months.
Thank you, Mr. Calandra.
Thank you, Mr. Head, and your team for their observations.
On behalf of the analyst, before I suspend, I'd just like to ask something with respect to your analysis of offender increases or decreases. The way I understood your answer to I'm not sure whose question, when a bill is a bill, the estimate of the impact is, in your view, a cabinet confidence, or what your minister says is a cabinet confidence. But when a bill is the law, you certainly are at liberty to estimate the impact on your system.
Have you done that with respect to the Truth in Sentencing Act? Is that public?
Colleagues, let's resume.
We are already under time pressure. As you know, someone will want this room precisely at one o'clock.
We have a motion, which I propose to use the last five minutes of the meeting to deal with, so effectively, we have 50 minutes.
On behalf of the committee, I'd like to welcome Mr. Dicerni, Madame Gillis, and Madame McDonald to the committee. I assume that one or all of you have an opening statement. You're more than welcome to start with that, and then we'll go to a round of questioning.
I have a very brief statement. I think all members have a copy, so you can follow along with me.
As you mentioned, I'm Deputy Minister of Industry. I'm accompanied by the chief financial officer of the Department of Industry, Kelly Gillis, and Helen McDonald, who is the ADM of the spectrum, information technologies, and telecommunications branch.
We are here today to discuss how Industry Canada is responding to the freeze in departmental operating budgets announced in the 2010 budget. The statement will be brief so that you may have more opportunity for questions and discussion.
Overall, there are two broad sections to my remarks. First, I just want to set the context in terms of what Industry Canada does. It has a broad and diverse mandate. The department delivers a wide range of programs and services to Canadian businesses, communities, and individuals.
Our activities include, first of all, the development and enforcement of framework policies regarding subjects such as the bill on copyright which is currently before the House, patents, the Competition Act and the Investment Canada Act. The mandate consists in developing bills and in applying them. This is what we call framework policies in English.
Secondly, law enforcement and inspection programs must be conducted. Once again, this means a diversity of interventions. This could go from the review of mergers by the Competition Bureau to the inspection of gas pumps done by Measures Canada, including the work done by spectrum officers as they monitor the use of spectrum licences. This is my colleague Ms. McDonald's area.
Third, we also manage a certain number of subsidy and contribution programs to sustain economic development in some leading-edge areas and in certain regions. For instance, we have a program that is called the strategic initiative for aerospace and defence which, as you can see, concerns aeronautics. We have a fund for innovation in the automobile sector, we also have a northern Ontario development program that is managed by FedNor.
In addition to these ongoing program activities, the department is often called upon to undertake exceptional initiatives during difficult economic times. For example, in the last few years the department led the negotiations with General Motors and Chrysler in facilitating their restructuring plans. The department, during the economic crisis, also developed and implemented, in partnership with provincial governments, the knowledge infrastructure program to enhance the quality of infrastructure in our post-secondary education institutions.
So having presented this brief overview of what the department does, I'd like to turn to the issue at hand, which is how the department is addressing constraint measures announced in budget 2010.
For Industry Canada, the impact of the constraint measures for the current fiscal year is estimated at about $3 million, and for next year at $4.6 million.
I would like to make two brief comments with respect to these objectives.
First, over the last few years the department has spent a great deal of time and some money to put in place appropriate processes to enhance our financial governance model. It is important to us to ensure integrity in the financial information we report, and to do so we undertook improvements to our internal controls that will allow for the department financial statements to be audited. This work has been recognized by the Auditor General with us reaching a significant milestone in our journey to strengthen controls.
This strong financial management and oversight capacity was also recognized by the Certified Management Accounts Award of Excellence for Comptrollership, who listed Industry Canada as a finalist last year.
Overall, these investments improve our capacity to manage the department.
Second, in order to address the constraint targets in the next year--as well as, for that matter, what we've done this year--we'll use a variety of tools. These tools include tighter management oversight over staffing activities, travel reduction, and reduction in external consultants.
Managing in this environment is about making choices that respond in an optimal way to achieve results with the resources that the government and Parliament place at our disposition. Let me give you an example. During the auto crisis of a couple of years ago we had to move quickly. We had to ensure that we had the necessary capacity to do the appropriate degree of due diligence on the restructuring proposals that the companies were presenting. We therefore retained KPMG and Ernst and Young to assist us in doing our due diligence. We paid for these non-ordinary contractual expenditures by reducing expenses in other parts of our portfolio. We made a choice as to how we were going to manage the department. We made a choice in terms of how we were going to spend the resources given to us.
Going forward, the management team at Industry Canada will continue with the approach of deploying resources awarded to us in an optimal way. We plan based on the best information available at a given moment in time, and we adjust as circumstances change.
That concludes my opening remarks. Kelly, Helen, and I are available to answer your questions to the best of our ability.
Two points. One, and I recall discussing this with another committee about six or seven months ago, is there is a time-sequencing challenge in regard to when the document you're referring to goes to print and the budget of the next year. There's a time gap there.
Secondly, just to put it back into context, as I said in my opening remarks, we're dealing with $3 million, and I think $4.5 million or $5 million for next year, on a base of about $400 million. Our overall Industry Canada O and M base is about $400 million. As I was trying to say, perhaps not as well as I could have, we do adjust as circumstances warrant. So sometimes we will spend more on consulting, as we did quite purposely during the auto negotiations, because I needed on-the-ground assistance very quickly. In other cases we will perhaps build up staff. If I talk about something that's happening currently, in real time, assuming the TMX and the London Stock Exchange proposal goes through, I will probably ramp up my legal staff bills.
Mr. Dicerni, Ms. Gillis, Ms. McDonald, I am pleased to welcome you to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. We saw each other for years at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
In your documents posted on the Internet, I was able to look at the 2010-2011 estimates and, indeed, the answers you provided earlier do in fact reflect your plan accurately. In 2010-2011, you had financial resources totalling $2.448 billion, but this amount will be reduced to $1.058 billion in 2012-2013. As far as human resources are concerned, you had been loaned 112 person-years which you will be losing, so you will be going from $5.279 billion to $5.176 billion. In my opinion, the problem lies in the fact that these cutbacks are far too big.
Let us look at the way spending will be broken down under the heading Canada's research and innovation capacity. I think that this is an important field for you. You actually talked about this a little bit further in the document. You state that these are cutting-edge organizations and that we need to be investing in these fields as they are effective in driving a strong Canadian economy, etc. These are the fields which enable our economy and our businesses to break through on the international scene. In addition, this field also generates well-paid jobs.
I would like you to explain something to me. According to the estimates for 2009-2010, total program activity expenditures were $1.745 billion. Included in these program activities is $1.281 billion for Canada's research and innovation capacity. This is apparently a very important field, it drives the economy, but we will be investing $170 million in this sector in 2012-2013. Think about it—this budget will be slashed by more than $1.11 billion.
That's good, because I have to tell you we've been hearing a lot from, in particular, the Liberal opposition here with respect to debating the budget in public, and they seem to be moving in the direction of wanting more of a republic-style government in which you debate the budget and you negotiate it out in public, similar to how the United States does, because that allows them to then throw in their little entitlements, as we've seen in the U.S., which has gotten them into so much trouble.
I rack my brains, because in the mid-1990s I was actually in the Ontario government. I was working for a member of the provincial Parliament. I think it was the 1997 budget in particular. I remember sitting in my office listening to then Minister of Finance Martin deliver that budget and remembering with shock, to be honest with you, the unilateral cuts to health, education, and social programs that were made. I think there were $25 billion worth of cuts, and for the life of me I simply don't remember any advance press releasing of that, any advance knowledge to the provinces that it was actually going to take place.
So I'm a bit confused by their desire now for everything to be out in the open despite the risks that may occur. When I asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer the other day whether there was some risk in our system of people profiting from advance knowledge of what might be in the budget, he quite clearly said yes. I'm a bit concerned by the direction of the Liberal opposition.
Let me ask you this. Despite everything that's happened.... And I know it's kind of a difficult question, because things just happen. Nobody would have anticipated the problems we had in the auto sectors. Going forward, what are some of the key priorities for the department, assuming that nothing creeps up like the auto sector did?
One thing I've realized over the last four and a half or five years in this department is that something always creeps up. Despite having done the best planning we could do, such as some of the current reviews we may undertake under the Investment Canada Act, even just last week there was public debate over usage-based billing. In the fall I think a number of people were engaged in the BHP discussions. I take it as a constant that the Department of Industry will be a source of news.
In regard to priorities going forward, perhaps I could paraphrase some of Minister Clement's thoughts. One would be on a digital economy strategy. It is very important that we harness the potential that exists out there to enhance our competitiveness. He had a meeting recently with his provincial counterparts to sustain that.
Second, broadly speaking, to reinforce our intellectual property framework, the House of Commons recently passed a bill on spam. There's a bill before a special committee on copyright. So I think intellectual property is important.
In terms of ongoing S and T and innovation, the government has launched a review, chaired by Tom Jenkins, to assist in assuring that taxpayers get the best bang for the buck, including a tax credit, in regard to the $7 billion spent on supporting business in R and D. So we are ensuring that we maximize value out of those investments both in terms of basic research and in commercialization outcomes.
Fourth, in terms of small business, the Senate recently released a report analyzing BDC's proposal for change. They are up for their ten-year legislative review this year, and we will be focusing on how to optimize BDC's contribution to the economy. Over and above that, there is the ongoing focus dealing with certain sectors, such as the aerospace and automobile sectors.
Last, I would note the ongoing commitment of the minister to economic development in northern Ontario.
What is your strategy for getting to 5%?
Some of us feel there is no fat left to be trimmed, and some of this cutting is “penny wise, pound foolish”. You will just have to be contracting out the work that you have to eliminate. When you cut all the fat away and you're into the flesh and the bones, now you're getting into a substantial impact on your ability to provide the services in your mandate. Five percent may seem like a reasonable amount, but we went through that process under the Liberal government years ago—cutting, hacking, and slashing with program review—and some of those cuts still haven't healed.
I notice you make reference to the number of external consultants you use now. You may be able to find efficiencies there. The reason we went into this consultant phenomenon in Ottawa was that they laid everybody off and then hired them back at $1,500 a day. It's a false economy to lay off somebody who makes $200 a day, give him a big payout, and then hire him back at $1,500 a day. Then we wonder why you can't swing a cat in Ottawa without hitting a consultant.
In my four and a half years at Industry Canada, I have reduced quite markedly the number of consultants we use.
The auto situation was a one-off. If we were going to recommend that the government spend $10 billion, I wanted to have on-the-ground capacity to do the due diligence, so we hired a substantial number of auditors to validate the restructuring plans that GM was giving us. Indeed, the first time out we sent them back because they were inadequate, so I needed to retain external consultants to assist in doing our job, but the overall management approach is to not use management consultants, to not use consultants generally.
With regard to your point about fat and this and that, it's our job, as senior bureaucrats, to manage, and managing is about making choices. It was the same thing when I was working as a deputy minister under Mr. Rae or Mr. Harris. They both had constraints, and you do the best you can with the amount given to you.
What has changed over the last little while is that there is a much greater degree of transparency. Mr. Regan raised a number of points about there not being enough information. There has been a change over the last while with regard to what I would call transparency. I will give you two factoids. We, as a department, have appeared 36 times in front of various parliamentary committees just in this fiscal year. There is much more dialogue taking place between parliamentarians—
Okay. I wanted to go back to a point you made earlier, and this was about the cabinet confidences.
In 2005, as you know, the Liberal government put on a website, even before the cuts were implemented and even before the estimates were brought forward, some of those cuts we're going to be seeing, some of the strategic review processes, and it wasn't a cabinet confidence. It was more this is from a planning exercise, strategic decisions made by management; this is how we're going forward.
We can't seem to get an understanding.... We already know there are budget limitations. Have you done that kind of exercise, and they're just not published at this point?
We have heard in this committee the dialogues with regard to advertising. I know there's been a number of people who have been before our committee, including representatives from Treasury Board, including the Auditor General, including a whole host of other folks, who have confirmed that in fact the advertising of the federal government is completely within the guidelines of the federal government, that no rules have been broken, that no guidelines have been broken.
As a matter of fact—it may be before Siobhan joined our committee—there was a lengthy discussion with Treasury Board, I recall, with Martha Hall Findlay, as it related to the advertising and the budgets that were allocated for specifically the action plan at that period of time. It was confirmed that in fact all guidelines had been followed, that there was nothing inappropriate done.
The Auditor General has also commented with regard to the rollout and the involvement of the federal government as it relates to the action plan, under the auspices of which a lot of this advertising fell. In this case, the Auditor General actually confirmed that the federal government had done an exceptional job.
Now, I know there is some dispute as to what should be advertised and what shouldn't be, but quite frankly I believe that when you're advertising initiatives to protect and inform seniors about their rights as they relate to seniors abuse, when you are advertising to Canadians about the threat and the necessity to protect oneself with regard to the possible H1N1 pandemic that was developing last year—and obviously those actions of the federal government were successful, in that the pandemic never happened—and when you look at the initiatives that are currently being advertised, including the—