We'll call the meeting to order. I think, as everyone knows—they've heard this speech many times—we're dealing with the budget implementation act.
First of all, I understand that there are officials here for every division, and I do apologize. I know a good many people may have had plans tonight, and we really appreciate your coming to appear before our committee and breaking whatever plans you may have had.
We'll start with division 4 of part 6, which is “Securities Issued or Guaranteed by Foreign Governments”. We have Mr. Nick Marion, who is the director of reserves management, financial sector policy branch, Finance; and Mr. Grahame Johnson, managing director, funds management and banking department, with the Bank of Canada
Welcome. You have a short statement, I believe, and then we'll go from there.
Good evening, Mr. Chairman. Thanks for the invitation to discuss the proposed legislative changes to the Bank of Canada Act and the Currency Act.
These changes will allow the government to remove legal tender status from Canadian banknotes, and allow the Bank of Canada to more effectively manage the quality of notes in circulation. Notes issued by the Bank of Canada, together with coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, are what is known as legal tender, which means they are the money approved in the country for paying debts.
Removing legal tender status means that some banknotes can no longer be used for payment of debt.
Generally speaking, it will be more difficult to make purchases with banknotes that are no longer legal tender. They will be refused by retailers, who will not be able to use them to pay their debts. However, these banknotes will not lose their value. The Bank of Canada will continue to honour them.
The Bank of Canada supports this initiative because having the power to remove legal tender status from banknotes means that we can do a better job of keeping notes that are in circulation more secure. Newer banknotes have better security features that make them difficult to counterfeit, and they are in better condition overall. Keeping notes current means they work more efficiently for all of us.
To date, every note issued by the Bank of Canada since 1935 remains legal tender despite the fact that the security features on those older notes are either non-existent or easily simulated. Withdrawing older notes from circulation will contribute to the public's confidence in using banknotes and the systems in place to efficiently process them.
As stated in budget 2018, if the power to remove legal tender is granted by Parliament, the government's intention is to remove this status from the $1, $2, $25, $500, and $1,000 banknote bills. Legislative changes are required to both acts, because the powers for issuance of banknotes resides in the Bank of Canada Act, but the specifics of banknotes are in the Currency Act.
Many central banks have the authority to remove the legal tender status of older banknotes. At the Bank of England, for example, calling in legal tender is often part of the strategy for issuing banknotes. When a new banknote is issued, the old and new series circulate at the same time for a predetermined period of time. After that, the old notes must be redeemed by the central bank. For example, in September, the Bank of England issued a new 10-pound note, and in November it announced that the old note would cease to be legal tender four months later.
In Canada, however, the banknotes that will lose legal tender status are no longer in circulation. They are the $25 and $500 notes, which date back to the first issue of notes by the Bank of Canada in 1935; $1 and $2 notes, which stopped being issued in 1989 and 1996 respectively; and $1,000 notes, which have not been issued since 2000.
This decision should have no significant impact on Canadians. These banknotes have not been produced for decades and are rarely used in transactions.
If the government is granted this power, the bank will provide clear information to Canadians on how to redeem the affected banknotes. This will involve a period during which the notes can be redeemed through financial institutions, as Canadians can do today. After this period, the notes can be redeemed directly with the Bank of Canada.
I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.
Let me break apart the question a bit.
There is a process at the Bank of Canada that deals with mutilated notes, which is separate. If you find notes that are buried and you're not able to determine what denomination they are, they can still be redeemed at the Bank of Canada. Whether they're buried or destroyed, or sometimes destroyed in a fire, we have a service that we provide to Canadians in order to make sure they retain their value.
With respect to legal tender status, we looked globally at what the best practice was internationally. Generally, it's a period of time after the announcement of the removal of legal tender status where in fact you do enact that. It's the first time in Canada, so we're going to be learning as we go along in terms of what the appropriate actions need to be in how we communicate that to Canadians. However, in response to your direct question about whether there are alternatives and whether there is an extended timeline that can be provided, you have to recognize that we have not issued a $1,000 note for 18 years now, since 2000. Understanding that there are still some that are out there, as I said, they will always be redeemed at the Bank of Canada. We have mechanisms in place today where we can accept and give credit and face value for those notes.
Thank you very much, Ms. Lambert and Mr. Wall.
Now, for part 6, division 7, “Payment Clearing and Settlement”, could the witnesses come forward?
We have from Finance Canada, Ms. Bourdeau, senior advisor, financial sector policy branch; Mr. Sample, acting director general, capital markets division; Mr. Brown, director, financial stability; Mr. Vaillancourt, director, payment policy. From the Bank of Canada, we have Mr. Chande.
Welcome, and the floor is yours.
Thank you, and good evening.
Division 7 of part 6 proposes to amend the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act to implement a financial market infrastructure resolution framework so that the appropriate tool kit is in place in the unlikely event that a systemically important FMI fails.
Financial market infrastructures, which are known as FMIs, are hubs for financial transactions, and facilitate the clearing, settling, and recording of payments. Certain FMIs are designated and overseen by the Bank of Canada if they are considered to pose systemic or payments risk. It is important that these designated FMIs continue operating, even at times of stress.
Therefore, these amendments would introduce a resolution framework to support the development of feasible, credible resolution plans for designated FMIs, and to provide a legal basis for federal authorities to intervene if a designated FMI is unable to recover from a stress event.
These proposed changes would help preserve financial stability, maintain critical services of the FMIs, and minimize public exposure to loss during a financial crisis.
Are there any questions?
We're all done, then. That is unusual.
Thank you very much for your testimony. It must have been a clear explanation.
We now turn to division 8, which is the “Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act”.
We have Ms. Villeneuve, economist, trade rules, at international trade and finance branch of the finance department; and Ms. Govier, senior director, trade rules, international trade and finance branch, finance department.
Welcome, the floor is your.
Division 8 of part 6 proposes amendments to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act in relation to the appointment of tribunal members. The CITT is a quasi-judicial tribunal that conducts inquiries and hears appeals on various aspects of trade policy. Its mandate includes conducting injury inquiries for anti-dumping and countervailing duty or safeguard investigations in Canada's trade remedy system, hearing government procurement complaints related to Canada's free trade agreements, and adjudicating appeals on customs and excise tax matters.
The tribunal is composed of up to seven members, including a chairperson, who are appointed by the Governor in Council for a term of up to five years.
Division 8 of part 6 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1, includes three amendments to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act. The first would create one vice-chairperson position. Thus, the tribunal would always have a maximum of seven members, including one chairperson and one vice-chairperson.
The second amendment clarifies the rules for member's eligibility for re-appointment.
The third amendment clarifies that the vice-chairperson may act as chairperson in the interim, as necessary, and provides for the appointment of the vice-chairperson in the interim.
These changes will provide greater clarity, flexibility, and efficiency in the process for appointing members to the tribunal.
We're happy to take any questions.
Hi. I'll be speaking to the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act, and my colleague here will be speaking to the application of an order in Nunavut.
The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada manages the construction of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station located in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Once finished, the station will house the offices of Polar Knowledge Canada. Transferring the land and the research station from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to Polar Knowledge Canada is the last step in the creation of the most recent federal research organization.
The Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act describes two situations whereby the transfer of federal real property from one federal organization to another can take place, either from one minister to another or via crown corporation.
Polar Knowledge Canada is a departmental corporation, and is responsible for both Polar Knowledge Canada as well as the department holding the real property that is to be transferred. Therefore, neither condition is met. The proposed amendments to the act would address this inconsistency by allowing Polar Knowledge Canada to be treated as a crown corporation, solely for the purpose of transferring federal real property.
In 2014, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act repealed an important order in council regarding game declared in danger of becoming extinct. An unforeseen consequence of this repeal is that the legislature of Nunavut may no longer have the clear authority to restrict or prohibit indigenous people from hunting game for food. This situation creates a regulatory gap and uncertainty for the Government of Nunavut in its ability to manage wildlife.
Therefore, the proposed initiative would clarify that the order in council is deemed to have continued to be enforced and to apply in Nunavut. This would provide the necessary authority and would cover the period from the time of the repeal of the order in April 2014, and going forward.
This retroactive provision would ensure the validity of legislative actions taken by the government under the Nunavut Act and ensure greater certainty in relation to wildlife management for the benefit of Nunavummiut and all Canadians.
In conclusion, I want to thank the committee for continuation of these measures related to the Canadian High Arctic Research Station Act and the Nunavut Act.
We are ready to answer any questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak this evening about the government plans to amend the Red Tape Reduction Act.
The Red Tape Reduction Act establishes a one-for-one rule to control the amount of administrative burden that is imposed on business through Government of Canada regulations. Whenever a new or amended regulation is brought forward by a department, it must take out an equal value of administrative burden and must also remove a regulatory title.
To date, we have seen a net reduction of 123 regulations and $30.1 million in annual administrative burden.
At present, the Red Tape Reduction Act only applies to Canadian federal regulations. The government's proposed amendments will allow Canadian departments to reduce the administrative burden on Canadian businesses resulting from the regulatory measures of other countries, such as the United States, as part of an official cooperative initiative for regulatory reduction.
For example, we have formal regulatory cooperation relations with the United States and the European Union. The goal is to incentivize Canadian departments to work more closely with their counterparts of these countries to reduce the regulatory burden that can adversely affect international trade.
I will stop there and take any questions that you may have.
Good evening Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
We're here today to talk about some proposed amendments to the Department of Employment and Social Development Act to promote better service delivery to Canadians.
As you know, the Department of Employment and Social Development is responsible for delivery of many social programs to Canadians, including the Canada pension plan, old age security, employment insurance, to name a few.
The department has an extensive network of service delivery, including online, on the phone, and in person presence of up to 150 points of service across the country.
Like other departments, this department has the mandate to deliver its own services, but not deliver services for partners. Over the years, the department has been granted authorities to assist other partners, including other federal departments, in the delivery of their programs. It's achieved those authorities on a case-by-case basis. A machinery of decisions culminating in orders in council has, for instance, provided the department with the authority for the 1 800 O-Canada, the Canada.ca, and the delivery of domestic passport services.
The case-by-case approach can be time consuming. Once a mandate for a service delivery partnership authority is in place, then the department needs to go and get cost recovery authorities from Treasury Board. This case-by-case approach can be time consuming, and prevent nimble response to partnerships, service delivery, that can assist Canadians.
The proposed amendments today to the departmental statute are to broaden the minister's mandate to provide authorities for service delivery partnerships. The partners that we're envisioning in this legislation are other federal partners, provincial, municipal, for instance, and also some indigenous communities.
The provisions will allow the department to provide services using the service delivery infrastructure. They'll also clarify the responsibility for personal information collected in the service delivery partnership.
Finally, they'll also permit the department to cost recover for the services that it provides to its partners.
Another amendment proposed is to allow the department to use CRA's business number under the Income Tax Act when it works with businesses to identify the validity of the businesses.
This is really a proposal that is machinery in nature. It does not seek funding. It is permissive. It's not a mandatory mandate. Partners who would like to avail themselves of ESDC's service delivery network and expertise could come to the table and negotiate a partnership.
The service delivery authorities are not directly related to any budget initiative. However, they could facilitate some initiatives, such as responsibility to improve access in indigenous communities on reserves and in the north.
I'll stop with that.
As you may know, the employment insurance system provides workers who have lost their jobs with temporary income support, known as regular benefits. It also provides special benefits in specific circumstances that can arise during an individual's career.
I am here to talk about the proposed amendments to the Employment Insurance Act, which determine how benefits are adapted when a worker earns income while receiving employment insurance benefits. These are known as working while on claim provisions.
The intent of the provisions is to encourage claimants to accept work while receiving EI benefits.
Each year, about 800,000 EI claimants do some work while receiving EI benefits, with women more likely than men to work at least one week while on claim.
The current legislative provisions have been in place since 1971, and a series of pilot projects over the last 12 years have tested various approaches to adjusting EI benefits when a claimant earns income while receiving EI benefits. Budget 2018 proposed to make one of these approaches permanent.
I'll go through the amendments first. The amendments proposed in the budget would make the default rule of the current pilot project permanent. Under these rules, workers retain all of their employment earnings, and EI benefits are reduced 50 cents for each dollar earned, up to 90% of their pre-claim earnings.
Second, for a limited time three-year period, EI claimants who opted for the alternative treatment of earnings could continue to do so. This three-year period would provide time for this small group of claimants to adapt to the permanent “50 cents on the dollar working while on claim” rule.
Third, working while on claim provisions would be extended to sickness and maternity claimants for the first time. Extending these rules to maternity and sickness claimants is not intended to encourage work, rather this change would allow workers to benefit from the same treatment as other claimants if they choose to stage their return to work, and they would be allowed to retain some additional income.
Finally, there are some technical amendments included to ensure that the changes to the working while on claim rules do not result in unintended consequences on other aspects of the EI program, such as the waiting period and the EI premium reduction program.
As indicated in the budget, these measures should cost $351.9 million over five years and $80.1 million per year after that. According to the Employment Insurance Act, these costs will be charged to the Employment Insurance Operating Account and recovered through employment insurance premiums.
The measures would come into force August 12, 2018, if approved, to ensure there is no interruption between the pilot provisions and the proposed new legislative provisions.
Thank you, and good evening.
Ms. Dekker and I will be speaking to division 15, which contains amendments to the Judges Act and the Federal Courts Act to create new judicial positions for the provincial superior courts and the Federal Court. I will be speaking briefly about the changes that impact the provincial superior courts, and Ms. Dekker will speak to the changes to the Federal Court complement.
In terms of the provincial superior courts, you will see that the amendments propose an increase to the complement of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by six judges, and an increase to the complement of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal by one judge. These new judicial positions are in response to demonstrated existing and projected workload pressures in these courts, and will assist them in dealing with their caseloads in a timely manner.
The funding for these new judges is effective immediately, and new appointments can be made to these positions once the necessary legislative amendments are in place authorizing the salaries.
In addition, the proposed amendments will create a pool of 39 new judicial positions for unified family courts, or UFCs, in Canada. Just to briefly explain the UFC model, it is designed to enhance access to the family justice system by consolidating all jurisdiction over family law matters in a single level of court, the superior court. The UFC provides a corps of judges who are specialized in family law, and promotes simplified procedures and the use of a full range of community and support services.
The UFC model is found presently in some Canadian jurisdictions, but not all of them. It is up to each province and territory to determine the court structure that best meets their needs. Provinces and territories pay the administrative costs associated with the UFC, while the federal government appoints and pays the UFC judges.
These 39 new UFC positions are intended to support the introduction of the UFC model in key sites in Alberta; the next significant phase of UFC expansion in Ontario; and the completion of the model province-wide in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The funding for the UFC positions is effective as of April 1, 2019, and the bill includes a coming-into-force provision to this effect, so that judicial appointments to the new UFC positions can be made after this date. The intervening period will allow time for the necessary steps to be taken to implement the UFC in the new sites.
I'll now turn to Ms. Dekker for the Federal Court changes.
I'll speak briefly to the amendments that would authorize the salaries for a new associate chief justice for the Federal Court and for creating one new position for that court through the Federal Courts Act amendments.
A new associate chief justice would share the managerial responsibilities that are currently borne by the chief justice alone. This position would allow the chief justice to devote more time to hearing cases, for example, and writing judgments, which are both important components of providing effective leadership for a court.
This position would be created through the conversion of a puisne judge into an associate chief justice position. At the same time, an additional judge would be added to the Federal Court to address projected increases in workload, for example, in the area of immigration cases.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Part 6, division 16 of the bill, entitled “Financial Sector Legislative Renewal”, proposes amendments as part of the financial sector legislative review prior to the statutory sunset date of March 29, 2019. The periodic sunset of financial sector legislation is designed to ensure that the financial sector framework is reviewed regularly and that it remains effective and technically sound.
The Department of Finance began the financial sector legislative review in 2016. Over the course of 2016 and 2017, the department led comprehensive public consultations with stakeholders in order to understand their priorities and perspectives. Through these consultations, we heard that the financial sector framework is functioning well and that the foundational elements of the framework continue to be supported. These elements include strong and clear mandates for financial sector regulatory agencies and a principles-based approach to regulation. They also include a separation between banking and insurance activities, which we are not proposing to reform.
Stakeholders also told us that certain targeted updates would help Canada's financial sector keep pace with global developments and the changing needs of businesses and consumers. To that end, amendments are being proposed in four priority areas.
The bill proposes four priority reforms as part of the financial sector review.
First, proposed amendments will provide greater flexibility for financial institutions to undertake and leverage fintech activities.
Second, proposed amendments will provide prudentially regulated deposit-taking institutions, such as credit unions, the flexibility to use generic bank terms, subject to certain disclosures.
Third, proposed amendments will allow life and health insurers to make long-term and predictable investments in infrastructure.
Last of all, proposed amendments will renew the sunset date for legislation governing federal financial institutions for five years from the date on which the Budget Implementation Act receives royal assent.
I will take a moment to explain the changes with respect to infrastructure.
Part 6, division 16 proposes amendments to the Insurance Companies Act to permit life and health insurance companies to make long-term investments in infrastructure to help them obtain predictable returns. These new investment powers would also be granted to fraternal benefit societies and insurance holding companies.
Through our consultations, we heard that life and health insurers are seeking greater flexibility to invest in infrastructure assets that would support their asset-liability matching needs. Life and health insurers are attracted to infrastructure as an investment class because, generally, it gives long-term, stable, predictable returns. These characteristics make infrastructure a suitable type of investment for insurers to match against the liabilities they take on.
As part of a general restriction on commercial investment under the Insurance Companies Act, the current legislation does not permit life and health insurers to make such investments. By enabling insurers to invest in infrastructure assets, the proposed amendments will support the industry asset-liability matching needs, which will make insurers more financially resilient.
The proposed amendments will also have the added benefits of unlocking a new source of infrastructure financing that can support Canadian communities.
My colleague, Mr. Brazeau, will speak to the proposed amendments in the area of financial technology and bank terms.
Part 6, division 16 of the budget implementation act amends a number of acts governing federal financial institutions, in order to adapt the legislative framework in response to the emergence of financial technology or fintech.
Fintech refers to both the innovative delivery of financial services through technology and a technology-focused firm that offers financial services or related products.
The further development of fintech can make the financial sector more efficient and useful for Canadians, as it has with such previous innovations as online banking and email money transfers.
In our consultations, stakeholders pointed out that the shifting expectations of customers with respect to products, services, and service channels put pressure on their business model.
I'd like to underline that a vast majority of stakeholders across the financial sector, from financial institutions, such as banks and insurers, to small and large fintechs, emphasize that adapting the federal framework was a core priority for their businesses and the financial services industry in Canada.
The statutes covering financial institutions are one of the more direct levers that the federal government has to foster innovation through setting a regulatory framework that is technology-neutral and less prescriptive in its approach.
Generally speaking, the framework governing the financial sector currently limits investments by federally regulated financial institutions, such as banks or insurers, to financial services. The difficulty concerns mixed business plans to provide financial and non-financial services through technological interfaces, because our laws currently do not provide for this model.
Take the example of a business called Square.
Square is a financial and merchant services aggregator and a mobile payment provider. While Square is clearly focused on the delivery of financial services, it is also harnessing its technology for food delivery services, as well as real-time GPS tracking.
Under the current legislation, a bank would not be permitted to invest in Square, owing to the fact that Square's business model includes both financial services and business lines that are not financial in nature.
The proposed amendments would extend the scope of activities related to financial services in which federal financial institutions may engage, to be consistent with an evolving market environment. This includes the ability of federal financial institutions to undertake, invest in, and refer to financial technology services. The proposed amendments would also provide the ability of federally regulated financial institutions to offer identification, authentication, and verification services.
While the proposed amendments provide greater flexibility for innovation, I remind the committee that this flexibility is bounded in the context of a world-leading regulatory system known for its prudence and balanced approach. Federal financial institutions are required to meet a comprehensive set of legislative and regulatory requirements and are subject to ongoing monitoring by federal financial sector agencies such as the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.
I would also highlight what the proposed legislation does not do. It does not change the government's long-standing policy framework wherein banks are limited in undertaking the business of insurance. While these amendments may have added, expanded, or clarified certain powers of banks, they do not override the existing blanket prohibition in the Bank Act, which prevents banks from undertaking the business of insurance unless explicitly permitted. The insurance business regulations also explicitly prohibit a bank from indirectly providing an insurance company, agent, or broker with any information respecting a customer of the bank in Canada. This prohibition on banks indirectly providing information would prevent banks from using their relationship with a third-party fintech to provide information to insurers.
Secondly, I would underline that this legislation must also be read in the context of Canada's existing federal and provincial privacy frameworks. Federally regulated financial institutions are, and remain, subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act, PIPEDA, which sets out rules for all private sector organizations regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, including the requirement to obtain consumer consent. The proposed amendments for the committee have been developed against this overall policy framework that has served Canadians well, with well-trusted financial institutions and strong regulators.
I will now briefly outline the proposed amendments in the area of bank terminology. Part 6, division 16 of the budget implementation act amends the Bank Act in order to provide prudentially regulated financial institutions such as credit unions with the ability to use the terms “bank”, “banker”, and “banking”, subject to disclosure requirements. As you may know, the Bank Act currently limits the use of the words “bank”, “banker”, and “banking” to banks only. These terminology rules exist so that consumers know when they are dealing with a bank and when they are not. These rules also exist so that consumers understand which jurisdiction is responsible for the regulation of a given institution, including any applicable deposit insurance protections. The distinction is especially important in times of financial distress.
Through our consultations, we heard that the credit union industry is seeking greater flexibility to use the terms “bank”, “banker”, and “banking”. Such flexibility would help them better compete with banks to offer financial services to Canadians. The government recognizes that the credit union system is an important part of the Canadian economy and contributes to competition in financial services. As such, the proposed amendments would allow credit unions and other prudentially regulated deposit-taking institutions, such as trust and loan companies, the flexibility to use the terms “bank”, “banker”, and “banking” to describe their services. The proposed flexibility would be subject to certain disclosures regarding institutional identity and the applicable deposit insurance regime. As an example, provided that the required disclosures were made, a credit union would be permitted to refer to online “banking” services on its website or invite prospective clients to “bank” with them in their advertising materials.
Consistent with the current rules and international best practices, only banks would be able to use bank terminology in names and identifying marks. Other non-bank financial institutions, such as fintechs and payday loan companies, would continue to be restricted from using bank terms in all circumstances. The government is also proposing amendments to the Bank Act and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act that would provide the superintendent of financial institutions with better calibrated and more flexible tools to enforce the rules around bank terminology.
Lastly, technical amendments are also proposed that would clarify certain provisions relating to the use of bank terms.
I do have a short opening statement.
The Department of Western Economic Diversification is a regional development agency in the innovation, science, and economic development portfolio. Our mandate is to promote the development and diversification of the economy of western Canada, the four western provinces.
We are seeking a minor amendment to our enabling legislation, the Western Economic Diversification Act.
Currently, in order to sign an agreement with a province, the act requires that our minister first seek the approval of the Governor in Council, essentially cabinet and the Governor General. This requirement can add months to the process which can delay the implementation of federal initiatives as well as provincial initiatives. We're seeking to amend the Western Economic Diversification Act to eliminate this requirement. This change would allow us to respond more quickly to opportunities to collaborate with provinces in areas of shared responsibility.
On the preamble, Raj, I know we have access to it, but I do know people read some of these transcripts to find out what's happening, and the preamble informs them. That's part of the reason for it. We do have access, but there are people who do read the transcript, surprisingly.
Are there any questions for Mr. Dewar?
Hearing none, thank you, Mr. Dewar.
On division 18, which is the Parliament of Canada Act, from the Privy Council Office, we have Selena Beattie, director of operations, cabinet affairs; and Madam Burgess, legal counsel.
The floor is yours.
Members do not receive a salary. They receive an allowance. The Parliament of Canada Act currently provides that for every sitting day a member does not attend the House, their income is cut by $120 a day. Three exceptions are within section 57 of the Parliament of Canada Act. Those reasons are: if the House or Senate was not sitting—if you didn't miss a sitting, you're not cut for missing a sitting; if you're on public official business; or by reason of illness. Pregnancy or parental leave wouldn't fall into any of those categories.
The procedure and House affairs committee recommended adding maternity or parental leave as a fourth category. The government has chosen to achieve the same end in a slightly different way because if it were simply added as a fourth category, that would be a blanket that would apply with no restrictions and no parameters until the House or the Senate chose to apply parameters.
The approach the government is recommending to Parliament in the budget implementation act instead would create a new power for the House and the Senate to create regulations for its own members. The details of how this would operate will be up to members themselves to decide, and the House would then have the ability to adopt an order setting out those regulations, if this amendment is adopted.
There would then be a subsequent stage whereby members would determine what those parameters would be. Would there be a limitation to the number of days? Would it be less than the full income for a specific number of days? Any number of parameters would be up to the House to determine for members of the House.
When the House adopts an order, that would have the power of regulations, which would then regulate how this would apply to members.
The specifics of the actual scheme will be for you to decide for members of the House.
Thank you for being here today.
Your answer seems to be “no”, but out of curiosity, I would like to know whether, under the current regulations, it is already possible for women to obtain a doctor's note for sick leave after giving birth. Obviously, given the circumstances, it isn't possible to return to work the next morning.
With regard to the allowance, would a doctor's note not already allow for some flexibility and prevent women from having their pay cut by $120 a day, even though pregnancy and parental leave do fall under the three exceptions? Could part of the leave already be covered that way?
We agree that women cannot get a doctor's note for a whole year after giving birth, but could this approach remedy part of the problem?
Thank you very much. I will make this brief, as I know you've all had a hard day.
This bill proposes amendments to the Canada pension plan consistent with the agreement in principle reached unanimously by Canada’s finance ministers in December 2017. The changes eliminate the pension reductions for young survivors and fixes the amount of the death benefit at $2,500 for all eligible contributors, which will mainly benefit low- and moderate-income families who contribute.
What is more, the amendments provide for an additional benefit for disabled retirement pension beneficiaries under the age of 65. The bill also implements a disability drop-in and a child-rearing drop-in to protect pension amounts under the CPP enhancement for individuals who are disabled and parents with lower earnings during child-rearing years.
In addition, this bill also maintains portability between the CPP and the Quebec pension plan, following the enhancement of the latter. It also authorizes the making of regulations to support the sustainability of the CPP enhancement.
These amendments will provide additional support to Canadians and their families and will be especially beneficial to women, as they are more likely to reduce work to care for young children, become widowed at a young age, or collect a disability pension. In addition, integrating the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan enhancement ensures the full portability of the enhanced benefits across Canada for all workers.
As well, Canadians can rest assured that the fully funded enhanced CPP will remain well funded over time, providing them with benefits they can count on.
I am happy to take any questions.
Division 20 of part 6 would create a remediation agreement regime in a new part of the Criminal Code. It would be XXII.1.
What is a remediation agreement? A remediation agreement is a made-in-Canada version of what other countries call a deferred prosecution agreement, which is essentially an agreement between a prosecutor and an accused whereby charges are stayed pending successful completion of the terms of an agreement that the parties make between them.
Remediation agreements would be a new tool for prosecutors in Canada to use at their discretion in appropriate circumstances where it's in the public interest to do so. They would be available for use in addressing corporate criminal wrongdoing, so serious economic crimes that are listed in the schedule that a corporation or an organization has been alleged to have committed.
The regime in the Criminal Code has a purpose clause that outlines the importance of making sure that the agreement constitutes an effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalty. Another purpose is to provide for reparation for harms done to victims and it is there intended to reduce the negative consequences to uninvolved third parties.
What the regime does is it sets out factors that the prosecutors are to consider in determining whether a remediation agreement would be appropriate, such as the the gravity of the offence, the degree of involvement of senior management of the corporation, whether the company is willing to identify implicated individuals, that sort of thing. There is an invitation to negotiate that the prosecutor issues to a company and part of the code sets out what that would contain. It would explain that the negotiations must be carried out in good faith. There would be a time limit for accepting the terms, and there's a lot of other procedural detail set out in the draft bill.
There are mandatory contents of remediation agreements so they must all have an agreed statement of facts. The company must admit responsibility for the act or omission that would constitute the offence. They have to co-operate. They have to forfeit any property that they've obtained through the commission of the wrongdoing and they have to pay a penalty. They have to make reparations or explain why that's not viable in the circumstances, if the victim cannot be identified, for example, and they have to pay a victim surcharge. Those are just some of them.
There are also optional conditions that may be included, and that can be anything, but the code would set out three. One of them is an obligation to enhance the compliance measures that the company has in place, such as training of employees. Another is to appoint an independent corporate compliance monitor to monitor the company's compliance with the terms of the agreement, in particular, the enhanced compliance measures, but it could be other....
There are four court processes. One is to approve the agreement; once the company and the prosecutor have negotiated what they considered to be a fair agreement, they go to court. The court will approve it if they are satisfied that the organization has been charged with an offence, that the terms are fair, proportionate, reasonable, and in the interests of justice. They will specifically advert to the victim reparation term.
During the course of the agreement, which could last— it's negotiated between the parties—in other jurisdictions three to five years, typically, the prosecutor may go back to court to vary the terms, typically to extend it to give the company more time to comply. They could go back and terminate it if there's non-compliance and it looks like there's no possibility of compliance. At the end of the process, the prosecutor will go back to the court and seek a declaration of successful completion, and the company can say they've been cleansed, that there are no proceedings hanging over their heads.
For transparency reasons, there is a requirement to publish all the orders as well as the agreement itself. That is for other companies to see the kinds of terms that might be negotiated, if they were in a similar situation.
There's authority to promulgate regulations to deal with compliance monitoring because it's new in the Canadian criminal system, but there's enough detail that it could operate without the regulations.
The offences to which it would apply are set out in a schedule. There are 31 of them right now, but there is a power of the Governor in Council to add or take away offences. The coming into force would be 90 days after royal assent.
In a nutshell, that's what it does.
I'm happy to answer any questions.
Regardless of whether it was in the budget document, I think that this is not a good provision to have as part of an omnibus piece of legislation, especially to have it in the last section. That is no criticism on you. I'm simply pointing out a few things for the record. This is quite a change of approach.
Given the fact that the Governor in Council can add to a schedule and add or delete other crimes, we are giving a tremendous amount of discretion. Considering that, this should be a separate bill or part of one of the other omnibus bills—I think it's —where at least the justice committee could hear this directly and take a look at this to see if this is the right approach.
I have deep concerns. Even the fact that you can have the bribery of a foreign official, to me that is not just an average, everyday, white-collar crime. That is something that someone who is politically connected or at a very high level in business can do. I share many of Mr. Fergus's concerns that some people will view this as a way to remediate your way out of jail if you are connected. I have some deep concerns here. I would really hope that we could talk about separating this out or at least have the justice committee review this, because this is a fundamental departure from the way we handle the Criminal Code.
I'm all for new thinking, but to have this as the last division in an omnibus bill—believe me, I have no issue with having justice as remuneration as part of a budget bill. You need to put it somewhere. To have a stand-alone bill for such a small section on something that is so routine—I get that—but this is not an appropriate use, in my understanding. This does not help the economy. In fact, it may encourage some people to push the envelope.
Mr. Chair, I don't know what to say other than maybe we should probably consider hiving this off and sending it to the justice committee. I'm not sure that's going to do me any good though.