I call this meeting to order. Thank you for being here.
Today, for this hour, we're at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, meeting number 76. Today, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), we're dealing with the main estimates: vote 1 under Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, vote 1 under Canadian Human Rights Commission, votes 1 and 5 under Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, vote 1 under Courts Administration Service, votes 1 and 5 under Justice, vote 1 under the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and vote 1 under Supreme Court of Canada, referred to the committee on Tuesday, February 24.
We had the here for the first hour on Monday. Today, we're fortunate to have witnesses from the Department of Justice.
Mr. Legault, the associate deputy minister, will introduce the team that is with him. We will have some opening remarks from a number of the organizations and then we'll go to questions.
Mr. Legault, the floor is yours.
Joining me today from the Department of Justice are Donald Piragoff, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of the Policy Sector and Marie-Josée Thivierge, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer.
I'm also joined by officials from the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, Marie-France Pelletier, chief administrator, and Luc Robitaille, director general, corporate services. As well, from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Brian Saunders, director of public prosecutions, and Kathleen Roussel, deputy director of public prosecutions.
I'm glad to say that we also have in the room officials from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada, the Courts Administration Service, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
As the was before you a couple of days ago and made some opening remarks, mine will be extremely short. As members know, the Department of Justice supports the Minister of Justice as he works to ensure that Canada's justice system remains relevant, fair, and accessible to all Canadians. We also support the Government of Canada's priorities by administering grants and contributions to the department's various funds.
We will be happy to answer your questions with respect to justice and the justice portfolio.
I will now yield the floor to my colleague Marie-France Pelletier.
She will be followed by Brian Saunders.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for this opportunity to appear before the committee. My remarks will be slightly longer but not too much, I promise.
As you are aware, the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, or the ATSSC, was established on November 1, 2014, with the coming into force of the ATSSC Act. The creation of the ATSSC is consistent with the government's commitment to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its administration and operations.
The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada is mandated to provide comprehensive support services and facilities to 11 administrative tribunals. This organization will strengthen capacity and modernize operations, while enabling us to better serve the needs of the administrative tribunals, thereby improving access to justice for Canadians.
With six months behind us, we can proudly look back and say that the ATSSC managed the commencement of its operations well and with minimal disruptions to its clients, the administrative tribunals, and to Canadians. During those first six months we have fully integrated and co-located corporate services teams.
In doing so, we have also been able to consolidate a number of legacy financial and human resources systems and have replaced them with common platforms that will better enable our capacity to manage in these areas.
We have also maintained secretariats dedicated to providing specialized core mandate services to each administrative tribunal we serve.
We've developed and begun to implement our governance structure, which allows for full participation of senior executives, both in corporate and secretariat services, in decisions regarding the overall management of the ATSSC. Our governance structure also provides for the engagement of chairpersons at key stages on matters that may have an impact on their administrative tribunals.
We have conducted a rigorous budget allocation exercise through extensive consultation with secretariat executive directors and tribunal chairpersons.
This budget planning process was very well received, as it demonstrated our commitment to meeting the needs of the tribunals we serve, while ensuring stewardship and probity in the expenditure of public funds.
We have undertaken an operational planning exercise for the upcoming year of operations and will also undertake a strategic planning exercise to plan for the years ahead. In this first year of operations and beyond, we are committed to monitoring ATSSC and tribunal requirements very closely to be able and prepared to respond to emerging needs responsibly.
Though we have made great strides since our creation, our work is by no means done. As the ATSSC continues to evolve into a fully functional service-oriented organization, we remain committed to working with the administrative tribunals to support them in meeting their statutory obligations, while respecting their independence.
Our continued success in meeting our mandate, while fostering an organizational culture based on service delivery excellence and engagement, requires sound management of our resources.
As you may recall, the legislation that created the ATSSC included a provision for the resources of the tribunals to be managed through deemed appropriations following the ATSSC’s coming into force on November 1st.
The creation of the ATSSC did not result in increases in funding, rather it was created within the existing budgetary envelopes for each of the tribunals.
This represents our first main estimates for your consideration.
ATSSC's planned expenditures for fiscal year 2015-16 are $78.6 million. This includes $60.9 million requested as appropriations through these main estimates and $17.7 million in respendable recoveries through a vote-netted authority.
These planned expenditures and associated appropriations are consistent with amounts previously appropriated to the tribunals through estimates in 2014-15 and prior years. Of these funds, 88.7% is allocated to operational expenses.
The remainder will be allocated to statutory expenditures (such as the employee benefit plans). This spending will support the wide-ranging and important services that the ATSSC provides to all the tribunals it serves. Approximately $63.7 million is dedicated to programs directly supporting the mandate of tribunals.
These activities include the provision of expert core mandate services, such as research, analysis and legal support, and registry services.
Approximately $14.9 million is allotted to internal services operations, which include key support services such as IT, translation, procurement, finance, human resources, and communications, among others. As I've indicated previously, we will continue to monitor the budget and implement strategies to direct funds where they are needed the most to continue to be responsive and flexible to the needs of the tribunals we serve, as well as to ensure that public funds are spent responsibly.
The ATSSC has taken strides toward putting in place a service-oriented organization that contains many promising opportunities.
The organization is fortunate to count on dedicated employees who are fully intent on maintaining the administrative tribunals’ outstanding reputation and the quality of the work they perform.
The ATSSC is committed to a vision of setting the standard for service excellence, efficient and effective operations, and support for improved access to justice for Canadians.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my remarks.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and honourable members. Thank you for inviting us here today.
I propose to provide you with a quick overview of our main estimates.
The budget authorities we seek are principally for carrying out the mandate of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions—or the Public Prosecution Service of Canada—under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. The main elements of that mandate are to provide advice to investigative agencies where requested, and to initiate and conduct prosecutions within federal jurisdiction.
In addition, we seek budget authority for the work of the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. As you are aware, on October 1, 2014, as a result of the coming into force of amendments to the Canada Elections Act, that office was transferred to our organization.
The commissioner's mandate is to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the Canada Elections Act and the federal Referendum Act. The commissioner carries out his investigative functions independently of the ODPP. Those employees are now ODPP employees, and the commissioner's office budget forms part of our budget.
The budget authorities we seek for 2015-16 amount to $170.7 million. We also have projected revenues credited to the vote for services recovered from other government organizations amounting to $22.7 million. These two amounts are to pay for personnel costs of $132 million, and operational and maintenance costs of $61.4 million. I should point out that the latter amount includes $45.1 million that we pay for the services of private sector lawyers who are retained to act as federal prosecutors.
Another way of looking at the money is to look at the programs to which the money is dedicated. First, $130.5 million is for the drug, Criminal Code, and terrorism prosecution program. Second, $38.7 million is for the regulatory offences and economic crime prosecution program, including $22.5 million from projected revenues. Also, $4.1 million is earmarked for the compliance and enforcement activities of the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. The remaining $20.1 million is to be used for departmental internal services such as access to information, human resources, finance, communications, and security.
That concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer your questions.
That program, as the title indicates, covers three areas.
The drug prosecutions form the majority of our prosecutions across the country. We are responsible for the drug prosecutions in every jurisdiction, except in Quebec where the charges laid by the Sûreté du Québec or the Montreal police force are prosecuted by the Province of Quebec prosecution service, and in New Brunswick, where the charges laid by municipal police forces are prosecuted by the province.
The Criminal Code refers largely to Criminal Code prosecutions in the north, in the three territories. We conduct all the Criminal Code prosecutions in the north. In the south we conduct fraud, organized crime related to drugs, and the terrorism prosecutions. We single out terrorism prosecutions as an element of that program because it's an important, high-priority element along with organized crime, as mentioned in our report on plans and priorities.
We estimate that last year we spent a little over $4 million conducting terrorism prosecutions. You might know that at present there are 12 people before the courts, facing terrorism charges, and there are a number of people facing peace bond applications. That is an area where we expect there could be an increase in work, given the recent reallocation by the RCMP of members to work in that area.
Mr. Legault, I wonder if you could provide a little more light on the information you gave earlier in your testimony with respect to transfers to the provinces. Actually, I'm asking Mr. Legault, but as I think of it now, I think it was Mr. Piragoff. Anyway, here's my question.
The creates an obligation on the provinces to establish a mechanism to deal with requests for information and complaints that didn't previously exist. We spent some time before a committee talking about the impact that those new obligations would have on provincial coffers. I think I heard you, Mr. Piragoff, or perhaps it was Mr. Legault, talk about it being within a fiscal framework before Treasury Board, but not in the estimates, and the subject of some future announcement. Can you shed any more light on that? Given that the Victims Bill of Rights has received royal assent, given that these obligations now rest with provinces, given that these things are going to cost money, how much is in the envelope and where can we find that information?
The process, as I recall and I'll double-check to make sure, is that I believe the money was voted by Parliament last year and is in the fiscal framework. Parliament essentially puts money into the government's bank account. Treasury Board is the bank manager, and the bank manager decides how much they'll give each department.
Right now, we'll go before Treasury Board with a submission to release money that is already in the fiscal framework for the purposes of implementing the . The amount of that money I can't disclose at this time because it's still a cabinet confidence. That's why I said the minister will make an announcement once he receives approval from Treasury Board to spend the money, and the money then will be transferred to the Department of Justice.
The minister has, I believe, indicated, and I believe there were some announcements, last year as to some of the purposes of the money. Some of the money will, as you indicated, go to the provinces. There are not necessarily obligations on the provinces to create complaint mechanisms, but this legislation said—because of the difference in jurisdiction between sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution—if the complaint is against a provincial institution, such as a crown attorney's office or the police, the complaint mechanism is that of the province.
The federal government indicated we would create our own complaint mechanisms. The minister did indicate there would be federal funding available to assist provinces in enacting complaint mechanisms similar to that of the federal government. The federal government also indicated with respect to the collection of restitution there are some very good programs in some of the provinces. Saskatchewan has a very good collection program for restitution. The federal government indicated we would also provide some funds for assisting provinces in improving their collection mechanisms for restitution and indicating Saskatchewan might be a good model. It's up to the provinces to decide the model they wish to use.
The exact amounts and the details, as I said, I can't disclose because it's still before our cabinet committee, which is Treasury Board.
The minister was asked a question about one program. There was an amount of $1.6 million to support services to victims, do violence prevention in First Nations communities and increase support nationally for missing persons investigations. The minister said that, in the upcoming supplementary estimates, he was going to ask for $2 million. He mentioned expenditures of about $1.8 million just to fight prostitution.
Could you break down those costs?
If $1.6 million is being transferred to another program, could you tell me the exact name of that program?
What will that amount be spent on?
As I do not know who can answer that question, I will not ask anyone in particular.
I would like to go back to my colleague's question. I think it is extremely important. Part of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights is going to be operated by the provinces. I know that the minister talked about some budget increase for child support centres. You have been asked the question several times before, but I would like to get you back to the issue.
Have you established or designated a program to handle the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights? Will that money be allocated by the department according to its plans and priorities? Are the studies, the investigations, that the department has conducted going to allow programs to be created for the provinces or the tribunals?
For example, we are talking about administrative tribunals. Are some aspects of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights going to apply to administrative rights tribunals, for example?
Could you comment on that?
Thank you very much.
Thank you for those questions and answers, Madam Péclet.
My name is on the list now, so I'm going to ask a few questions, if you don't mind. They'll be easy ones today. Also, I do appreciate the questions from my colleagues today. I thought they were very good.
To follow up on what's been asked, when does the member of Parliament...? It's been announced that we're doing something. It's in the fiscal framework, as you would put it, and it's in front of Treasury Board. When does it hit the paper so that a member of Parliament can see that it's actually being voted on to be expended?
Does something under the framework come into the main estimates or into the supplementaries? There's an example they're using now, but even with the money that has been sunset, I completely understand that you can't.... For a program that's sunsetting, obviously the bureaucratic level cannot reallocate money until it's approved by Parliament.
But on that $25 million—I know you're only getting part of it—it was announced in a budget last year, and I don't understand why it could not have been reflected in this year's main estimates. It shows here that there's a deduction of $1.6 million or whatever it is. It looks like we're not funding it anymore, but in fact we're funding more, on which I agree with you.
I don't understand why it wasn't reflected in the main estimates. Maybe somebody could explain that to me.
It will just take 30 seconds. It was with respect to FASD, which I know is a priority for you, Mr. Casey.
I don't know if there is any specific money in the budget for FASD. However, under the youth justice fund, which is a $4.5-million fund we have for youth justice services, looking at supporting youth justice and emerging trends, FASD is a priority, and we are funding various programs. For example, we funded a program in Calgary, the McMan Youth Family and Community Services Association, with about half a million dollars for a FASD housing coordination project.
Also, not this year but a few years ago, we were in a joint research program with the Yukon government to determine the prevalence of FASD among youth in the Yukon courts.
There are other projects, but those are two that come to mind.
First of all, I wanted to thank the officials for joining us today and answering those questions. I know that dealing with estimates can sometimes be difficult for you, and I appreciate your coming.
We do have a series of votes on the estimates. We'll do that first, and then I have a comment. I believe Mr. Dechert has indicated he'd like to speak, so we'll do that.
ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS SUPPORT SERVICE OF CANADA
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$52,297,037
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$19,650,241
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
COMMISSIONER FOR FEDERAL JUDICIAL AFFAIRS
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$7,942,728
Vote 5—Canadian Judicial Council - Operating expenditures..........$1,513,611
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
COURTS ADMINISTRATION SERVICE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$57,320,466
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$241,797,227
Vote 5—The grants listed in the Estimates and contributions..........$354,900,159
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$149,298,354
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$22,304,846
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Following on your comment about the number of meetings that this committee has had, I may be a little premature but I believe we've come to the end of our agenda and I want to take this opportunity to propose a motion to thank our clerk, our analysts, and all the staff of the committee for their very hard work.
As you pointed out, we've had 76 meetings. We've met in the summer. We have reviewed a great deal of legislation and it has been hard work. The analysts have prepared some very helpful reports, and I think we really need to recognize their special efforts.
You know, Mr. Chair, I get more email messages from our clerk than I do from any of my family or friends; six in the morning, nights, and weekends. In fact, while we were sitting here—I don't know how he does it—I received a message from him in the middle of the meeting, so he's working some kind of magic.
I really think we all owe all of our staff a debt of gratitude.
I'd like to propose that as a motion and I hope it passes.
I could not let him have the last word—
Voices: Oh, oh!
Ms. Françoise Boivin: No, no, just kidding.
Actually, I thought you would propose, since we have so much time left until the 23rd of June, that we could maybe start a study on the, I don't know, need for legal aid in Canada, the need for prosecutors, naming some more judges, but I figure the government is done now with the justice committee.
But joking aside, and it's not actually a joke, I want to convey the same. We've had some hard-fought battles through the years, but honestly, to all the staff for their help and to everybody around and my colleagues, for enduring me all that time, and you also, thank you all and enjoy.
I'll see some of you on October 20.
As Chair, I just want to say I've been honoured to be the chair and I want to thank you for the work this committee has done.
Just so you know, nothing was referred to this committee in the BIA, the budget implementation bill. There is a chance that there might be something in supps (A). I will check with each of you to see if it's worth getting together. It may be a small amount if it's anything. If not, I want to thank our interpreters for all the work they do. I need them badly, and I want to thank all the staff, of course.
I honestly wish everybody on this committee well in the next election. Who knows who will be the chair or what committee you'll be on, or what you'll be doing, but I do hope to see you all again. Other than those who have quit on us, like Ms. Crowder...I wish her well also.
With that, thank you very much. The next meeting will be at the call of the chair, if required, but I don't think that will happen.
Thank you very much.
The meeting is adjourned.