PACP Committee Report
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GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE
The Government of Canada is pleased to respond to the Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (the Committee) entitled Chapter 8, Disaster Relief for Producers – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, of the Fall 2013 Report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of Canada, tabled in November 2014.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts (the Committee) held a hearing on this audit on May 14, 2014 to discuss the findings of the AgriRecovery audit and AAFC’s plans for addressing the four recommendations outlined by the OAG.
Outlined below is the Government Response to the four recommendations made by the Committee.
That, by 31 May 2015, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on its progress in working with provinces and territories with respect to AgriRecovery to review timeliness targets, to identify impediments to timeliness and to take corrective action to improve timeliness.
The Government supports the recommendation to review, with provinces and territories (PTs), AgriRecovery assessment timeliness targets, identify impediments to timeliness, and apply the necessary corrective actions to improve timeliness.
Since 2008, AgriRecovery has provided timely and targeted assistance to help producers recover from disasters. A survey of producer organizations by the Auditor General found that industry strongly supported AgriRecovery, with two-thirds agreeing that payments were timely. The Auditor’s report acknowledged that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has been successful in delivering initiatives, in coordination with provinces and territories, and for providing payments in accordance with AgriRecovery criteria within targeted timeframes. AAFC recognizes that there are opportunities to improve the timeliness of AgriRecovery, particularly for the smaller, lower cost initiatives.
In the fall of 2014, AAFC shared the Auditor General’s report with PTs, consensus was reached to establish a work plan to address the key issues of timeliness targets, removing impediments and looking for opportunities to streamline the process. Given the requirement for PT involvement in the process, obtaining this acceptance of the need for improvement and a process to identify solutions was critical. Progress is being made on this work plan with the expectation of senior-level discussions with PTs on solutions in late spring 2015.
AAFC has also taken immediate action to better track the progress on individual assessments. Processes and systems capacity are now in place to establish key milestones for each assessment and monitor the progress toward meeting the timeliness targets. This process will allow governments to identify challenges and take corrective action on a case-by-case basis to meet target dates and timeliness targets.
That Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada engage with provinces and territories and report on progress on ensuring producer views are collected around future AgriRecovery initiatives.
The Government supports the recommendation to ensure that producer views are collected around all future AgriRecovery initiatives.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has committed to work with provinces and territories (PTs) on a plan to compile producer feedback through the joint Performance Measurement Strategy (PMS) for the AgriRecovery Framework. Developed with our PT partners, the PMS commits governments to: measure progress toward shared outcomes; support public accountability, audit, evaluation, and reporting; collectively establish consistently defined performance measures; and collect and share performance information. The PMS, as well as information collected in producer surveys and other means (e.g., focus groups, discussions with industry associations), will be used to supplement AAFC’s Departmental Performance Report, demonstrating concrete results to Canadians.
That, by 31 May 2015, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on discussions with provinces and territories to identify measures to streamline its administrative processes for AgriRecovery.
The Government supports the recommendation in the Fall 2013 Report by the Office of the Auditor General to identify measures to streamline the administrative processes for AgriRecovery with provinces and territories (PTs).
Changes made to the AgriRecovery Guidelines as part of the development of the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) Multilateral Framework Agreement, a five-year (2013-2018) policy framework for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector, will have timeliness benefits for future AgriRecovery initiatives. According to the GF2 Agreement, AgriRecovery initiatives are now limited to the extraordinary costs associated with recovery, leaving production and income losses to other Business Risk Management programs - AgriInvest, AgriInsurance, and AgriStability. In addition, a two phase approach for the disaster assessment will ensure the analysis focuses on key criteria, thereby allowing officials to quickly identify which situations meet AgriRecovery’s objectives and act accordingly.
As part of the work plan established with PTs, the review of impediments has also led to the development of a template approach for agreements which should accelerate the process once a decision is made to proceed with an AgriRecovery initiative.
That, by 31 May 2015, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on its progress in working with provinces and territories to review AgriRecovery’s performance measures and targets.
The Government supports the recommendation in the Fall 2013 Report by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) to work with provinces and territories (PTs) to review AgriRecovery’s performance measures and targets.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has engaged its PT partners on a proposed set of performance measures for AgriRecovery under the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) Multilateral Framework Agreement, a five-year (2013-2018) policy framework for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector. This includes the replacement of the following timeliness measures:
These revised performance measures provide a timing commitment to producers for being informed about AgriRecovery assessment outcomes and when they can expect to receive payments. Both proposed measures will be shared with industry through groups like the National Programs Advisory Committee to ensure there is a common understanding of these new timing commitments.
AAFC’s Departmental Performance Report (DPR) for the 2013-14 fiscal year was published on November 5, 2014. It includes information on how AAFC has performed relative to the previous timeliness targets for AgriRecovery. AAFC will continue to report on timeliness in its DPR using these new measures.