You see, on this side, we really appreciate the public service and the work you do.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Hon. Scott Brison: Mr. Chair and committee members, we have exceptional public servants serving the people of Canada on an ongoing basis, and Brian Pagan is one of the finest with whom I've worked, in two different ministries. I want to thank you, Brian, for the work. Come back any time.
Supplementary Estimates present information to Parliament on spending that was either not developed in time for inclusion in the Main Estimates, or that has been refined to account for further development of particular programs and services.
As you will recall, the first Supplementary Estimates were typically presented in the spring.
However, thanks to recent changes to the sequencing of the main estimates and the budget for the duration of Parliament, the spring supplementary estimates were not necessary for 2018 and 2019. By having the main estimates actually follow the budget, parliamentarians can now understand more clearly how they relate to the big picture set out in the budget forecast.
Moreover, parliamentarians now have online access to more detailed and more accurate information. Thus, they're better able to hold government to account on how it spends tax dollars. We did this because of our belief in Canadians' right to know where public funds are being spent and invested.
That said, Supplementary Estimates are necessary to present the government's incremental spending requirements to Parliament.
To that end, we are seeking Parliament's approval of funding to invest in a number of important infrastructure projects, and to settle claims and deliver socio-economic programs for indigenous people.
I'd like to highlight a few of the major items: $827.3 million to provide three icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard; $666 million for compensation to first nations for specific claim settlements; $438.5 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities; $423.1 million for on-reserve water and waste-water infrastructure, operations, and capacity-building.
As of last week, Mr. Chair, in terms of results, 74 long-term drinking water advisories have been eliminated. We're on track to lift all of these by 2021 in indigenous communities across Canada.
Other items include $323.3 million to address a wide range of health, social and educational needs, according to Jordan's principle; $291.8 million for the new Champlain Bridge corridor project; $283.6 million for the Gordie Howe international bridge, the Detroit-Windsor crossing; $282.2 million for defence investments, such as acquiring military equipment and upgrading key facilities; $239 million to settle the Treaty No. 8 agricultural benefits specific claim with the Little Red River Cree Nation; and $210 million to allow Infrastructure Canada to deliver on the remaining funding agreements that had been undertaken with the former P3 Canada Fund.
I'd also like to draw your attention to the portion of the Supplementary Estimates for my department, although a very small part of these funds is for the Treasury Board Secretariat, or TBS, itself. Nearly all the funding requested is for two central votes.
Under the vote for compensation adjustments, we are seeking Parliament's authority for $541.4 million related to agreements concluded between August 2017 and August 2018. These funds are mainly for wage adjustments related to the border services, law and executive groups. After Parliament approves the appropriation act, funds will be distributed to the home departments of these agencies.
Under the vote for government-wide initiatives, we're also seeking $128 million for the LGBT Purge class action settlement, and $119 million for the indigenous early learning and child care framework. National Defence and Employment and Social Development, respectively, are responsible for leading these initiatives. They're working with partner departments and non-government organizations to determine the allocation of funding to departments and projects.
Distribution of funding to departments will begin after Parliament has approved the appropriation and these parameters are finalized.
I will take a moment to speak on estimates reform.
Mr. Chair, as you know, our government committed to improving parliamentary oversight of government spending around four pillars, and we have taken action in each area. I am very proud of the work we've done.
First, we've changed the sequencing so that the main estimates are tabled after the budget.
Second, we reconciled the accrual-based budget forecast with the cash-based estimates.
Third, we are piloting a vote structure that shows parliamentarians the purpose of funding provided for grants and contributions.
Fourth, our policy on results lets Canadians know how their tax dollars are spent, what results are achieved, and how they're being achieved.
I appreciate the committee's engagement in the study of the estimates, and I'm always happy to consider what we can do to better support this. For example, when I came to this committee in May to talk about the main estimates, I indicated that in respect of the allocations to departments and remaining balances for the line-by-line budget measures in the budget implementation act, Treasury Board vote 40, we would update the Excel table on a monthly basis and the text reporting in the next available estimates.
Mr. McCauley, at that time, requested that we update the text reporting on a monthly basis, as we do with the Excel table. I'm happy to say that we started doing this in August, as a result of Mr. McCauley's good suggestion. We're actually listening to the committee, and we're actually doing this.
Thank you, Minister, for being here.
Mr. Pagan, I think Mr. McCauley will miss batting with you on issues, but we appreciate the services that you have provided and we wish you the best.
Minister, I'm looking at the supplementary estimates. You're seeking parliamentary approval for $7.5 billion in voted spending. One of the things that interest me is the monies that are being given to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for their indigenous services of $438.5 million, and another for $423.1 million.
I have just returned from Iqaluit, where we were talking about respecting and reflecting the indigenous presence in Parliament. We have now had 11 parliamentarians of indigenous origin here. I know the cancellation of the Kelowna Accord pushed back a lot of the investments and infrastructure investments in the indigenous communities.
Could you explain to me how that additional money will help in the infrastructure projects? Safe drinking water is a critical issue there, and housing is an issue there. Would you be able to elaborate?
We all have a vested interest in the success of indigenous peoples. This is the fastest-growing and youngest population in Canada. If we get this right, this is a huge opportunity for Canada. Having a young population and a fast-growing population can be a good thing. If we get this wrong, it is catastrophic for all of us in terms of the future, both economically and socially. Every one of us, indigenous and non-indigenous, has a vested interest in the future success of indigenous peoples and indigenous children.
That's why we're making these investments, such as the $423 million to lift long-term water advisories on public systems on reserves. Think about it, just having safe water. We're on track to lift all of these by 2021. In terms of critical infrastructure in housing, we're investing $287.4 million in capacity and also to address some very critical housing infrastructure needs. We're investing $322 million to help first nations children have access to the same publicly funded programs as other children, something as basic as that in terms of equality of opportunity, in terms of basic education. These are the kinds of investments that will really move the needle in terms of the future of indigenous peoples.
has been doing a great job in terms of services. Also, if you look at the changes we've made in the machinery of government around indigenous people, it makes a great deal of sense in terms of the ability not just to invest the money, but to actually see the results.
The work that is doing, in partnership with Minister Philpott, is extremely important. They're both doing tremendous work on behalf of all Canadians.
You're quite right in identifying that many indigenous peoples are extremely concerned about climate change. Many of the communities of indigenous people are, in fact, coastal communities that will bear the brunt of climate change in the coming years.
We are making significant investments not just in terms of measures to reduce our carbon footprint as a government and as a country, addressing long-term climate change, but also in terms of a mitigation strategy and a resilience strategy to help communities become better prepared, including changes that will protect critical infrastructure and working with other levels of government.
In Nova Scotia, for instance, we've provided funding to the provincial government to make investments in some of the dike systems around the province, including in my riding, which is on the Bay of Fundy, where there are the highest tides in the world.
While we are investing to reduce our long-term emissions, we also recognize the need to invest in climate change resilience. Fortifying and strengthening coastal communities is part of that, and that has a significant impact on indigenous communities in a lot of cases as well.
Minister, welcome back.
Mr. Pagan, best of luck.
Mr. Purves, good luck looking as young as Mr. Pagan after 12 years at Treasury Board.
Minister, as always, I'm shocked at the size of your entourage. We bug you about how we can find the money, the $7-billion slush fund from vote 40. I think it's spent on your entourage.
An hon. member: Oh!
Mr. Kelly McCauley: Oh, calm down, Ms. Mendès.
Now, Minister, getting to the estimates themselves, there is $53.5 million in allotment from TB vote 5 for the three icebreakers, on top of the $855 million in Fisheries itself. Could you speak to your role in the national shipbuilding strategy?
Thank you very much for your question, Mr. MacGregor.
Actually, so far, $2.9 billion has been allocated. That's 45% of the amount of the total vote 40, as Brian has informed me, which is on track. If you look at where we are in the fiscal year, that is, we are on track in terms of that.
Further, for the detail on this, you can go to the website sources and the uses of the budget implementation vote by department and see this information. The granularity of this is very significant.
For instance, the “Combatting Aggressive International Tax Avoidance” budget funding was $4,885,000. Allocated so far is $3,966,360. You can take a look at “Protecting air travellers”, where you can see that the $240,612,000 has been fully allocated. For “Strengthening Canada's Food Safety”, with $15,700,000 in budget funding, so far $12,700,000—
There are a couple of things on this.
One is the fact that we're updating this information on a monthly basis, so it's being updated in real time, accessible to parliamentarians.
With this level of granularity, I'll just give you the example in terms of CRA:
||This funding will be used to increase capacity to enhance GST/HST compliance activities and to address tax obligations of non-residents on rental income earned in Canada. Up to 170 full-time equivalents are planned to be renewed or hired over the next five years. These initiatives are expected to generate roughly 70 million dollars in federal revenue each year.
That's the level of granularity for one unit. I'm using that as an example. I can provide you with that.
I may ask Brian to also speak to this as somebody who has been extremely involved and has played a leadership role in this, but in terms of parliamentarians having the opportunity to follow government spending and the results of that government spending, this is unprecedented.
Brian, would you like to speak to this?
Thank you, Mr. MacGregor.
As the minister noted, the intention of vote 40 was to provide more and better information to parliamentarians so that they understood how the budget was being implemented. We had a budget delivered by the Department of Finance at the end of February, and the main estimates, delivered April 16, were the first opportunity to present budget requirements to Parliament.
We did that in the form of vote 40 with the detailed annex and, as a result of exchanges at this committee, we undertook to update that information monthly. There have been seven updates, and I would suggest to the committee that presenting that information on a monthly basis is an advance over the minister and I appearing here on November 1.
This is the first time we've been back to talk about estimates requirements. In the meantime, there have been updates on June 5, July 9, August 10, September 11, October 12 and October 31. As the minister said, it's a level of detail that is designed very much to inform parliamentarians and Canadians on the progress that the department is making.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, and all of you, for coming today.
I have two questions, Minister, and I'll ask both at the same time so that you have ample time to answer them.
One of them is more general, and it goes back to when you were last here and we talked about the estimates reform. Some people were waiting to see if you would really publish the monthly updates, which we've heard are being published. You also have the sources for what this budget implementation vote has been dedicated to. I want to give you an opportunity to expand on that.
My second question is much more specific to my constituency. It's about the new Champlain Bridge and the $291.8 million that was provided in the budget for the office of Infrastructure Canada. I'd like to know how those monies are meant to be spent on the new Champlain Bridge. Is that outside of the planned budget, or is it within the planned budget? I would appreciate it, because it touches very specifically on my constituency. Thank you very much.
Thanks for the question, Mr. Peterson. As the minister says, the results policy is aimed at helping parliamentarians understand how programs fit with the broader mandate and objectives of the department and the specific indicators that will be used to measure progress.
Above and beyond these departmental results frameworks, we have regular reports to Parliament. In the spring, we have the departmental plan. This year, it was tabled on the same day as the main estimates. It lays out the specific targets or objectives of the program, with the indicators. In the fall, in the coming weeks, we will be tabling the departmental results reports, which conclude the reporting exercise and show what was actually achieved with the money spent.
We have had these sorts of reports for some years and we've made some efforts recently to make them more readable and lighter. The real advance over the last three or four years has been TBS InfoBase. We were at this committee in the spring. We showed you not only how InfoBase exists for all of spending, but how we were going to be using it to follow the budget implementation vote—a budget tracker.
Again, I commend the tool to the committee and to anybody watching this appearance, because it contains a wealth of information about the structure of programs, the amount of the spend, the personnel delivering the programs—
Even on Facebook, I'm sure....
The PBO has asked repeatedly for the RFP for the combat ship program. Repeatedly, the government has refused to release it to him, even though he believes, and I believe, that it is required to release it to him under an act of Parliament. We've asked the minister over at PSPC if they will release it and got hum and haw: “Yes, we should get around to it.” Just last week, releasing it was refused for the fourth time.
Can you guarantee to us, because you're the overseer of financial management, that the Parliamentary Budget Officer will finally receive the RFP for the combat ship program? I'm sorry, but it's a simple yes or no. If you want to say no, fine, and I'll move on to the other question, but I'd like a quick answer from you, please.
Colleagues, I'll call the meeting back to order.
Before we begin with a brief opening statement by Mr. Pagan, I want to address my remarks directly to him, hopefully on behalf of all of our committee members, to underscore what Minister Brison was saying.
Thank you so much, sir, for all your years of service. It is a thankless job many times to do what you do, and to do what public servants do.
I want to publicly thank you, since we are televised, for your many years of service, and wish you a great future. I hope retirement treats you well, and I hope we have an opportunity sometime in the future to see you back here on Parliament Hill.
Once again, thank you for everything you've done on behalf of Canadians coast to coast.
The president, in his opening remarks, provided a broad overview of the supplementary estimates and the major items therein. There has been a PowerPoint presentation circulated to committee members. I simply want to take a very few minutes to speak to where we are in the supply process.
What we see in front of us, on slide 3, is the supply calendar. As the committee will know, the House calendar is broken into three supply periods. This period here, for supplementary (A)s, ends on December 10, then to March 26 in the fiscal year, and then from the start of the next fiscal year to June 30.
What we see in this period—September to December of the supply period ending December 10—is that we have the conclusion of last fiscal year. We have the annual financial report and the public accounts for the Government of Canada. We're tabling our first supplementary estimates of the year, and we look forward in the next few weeks to a fall economic statement, which may result in additional priorities. We would bring those to Parliament in subsequent supply periods. So that is the supply period.
Slide 4 is just a reminder that we have the tabled document in the House that provides a summary of the supplementary estimates seeking $7.5 billion in voted authorities. We have details on a large number of horizontal items this year in these supplementaries. We have 21 horizontal items. We have detail by each and every organization—the 76 organizations seeking money—through the supplementary estimates (A), and then the proposed schedule to the appropriation bill that will be introduced in December. That's all part of the tabled document.
In addition to that, there is a wealth of information available online. This information has been generated, in large part, by interactions with this committee over the years. They have asked for additional details on statutory expenditures, breaking out the estimates by program or by purpose, and breaking out the details by standard objects of expenditure: salaries, professional services, travel, etc. We have a detailed listing of all of our central votes. We have a detailed listing of transfers between organizations.
Then, most importantly, there is InfoBase. I've said in the past that as we continue to make improvements to InfoBase, it's my expressed hope that some day we'll become irrelevant and everything you would want to know about the estimates will be available online.
Mr. Chair, that's the overview of where we're at. There were a number of questions in the previous round. I'd be happy to follow up on any of those, or any new questions that the committee may have.
I should mention that I'm joined at the table by executive director Marcia Santiago; our new CFO at the Treasury Board, Karen Cahill; and Mr. Glenn Purves, who is taking on the responsibilities of secretariat expenditure management.
Madam Yip, that's a very interesting question because it's one of the challenges that we're grappling with now with regard to InfoBase. Government is organized vertically, so we have departments. We have the Department of Infrastructure. We have the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We have the Department of Environment, etc. The estimates presented to you, for the most part, present that information according to those departmental structures.
Over the years, we've come to realize that the departments, in and of themselves, are often not able to address all of the policy and programming goals of government, and that to achieve the objectives of the government, they need to work together. At the very front end of the document, we have a listing of all of the horizontal items, and I mentioned there are some 21 items in this document. That's an example of how we have interacted with the committee to present information in a new way.
In addition, through InfoBase, people are looking.... They don't know how government is organized, and they may not use the term “infrastructure”. They may use “construction” or some other term, so we are using data tags to allow for searchable online access to spending. You can use InfoBase to query—as you could query in Google—seniors, aboriginals, youth or infrastructure, and you'll see all of the different programs and spending of government. This is something that is iterative, and we will make it better year in and year out.
Specifically, with respect to infrastructure, I mentioned horizontal initiatives. The very first horizontal initiative is funding for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities. What we see through that very first initiative is that we have three departments joining up to address infrastructure in indigenous communities: the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Department of Indigenous Services Canada and the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Each is doing its part to address infrastructure needs in aboriginal communities.
Specifically, with respect to major infrastructure, we had questions in the previous round about the Champlain Bridge, about money being sought by the Office of Infrastructure of Canada for that large project. The Gordie Howe international bridge—the Detroit bridge crossing—is another major item in these supplementary estimates.
Then there is federal infrastructure: labs and property of individual departments. We see major investments in departments, most notably the Department of National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the Coast Guard ships that we spoke of.
I want to go quickly because I'm running out of time.
On the departmental plans that Minister spoke about, we have discussed them recently, and there is a framework that sets out very clear policy objectives and very clear requirements. If Treasury Board is supposed to be the oversight of the departmental plans, I'd like to know just how much oversight you give.
I want to give you some statistics. There are something like 1,600 targets set out in the various departmental plans. We've read through them all and counted them all. Fully one fifth have no actual measurable targets set. It's odd that we're spending $300 billion a year and there are no targets set. Twelve per cent, or one out of every eight, have no date set for the target. Fully 48% have no target compared to.... It's left as “not applicable” for the 2016-17 numbers.
I have to ask Treasury Board, are you satisfied with what I think is a complete failure of the departmental plans? What is Treasury Board's role in ensuring that this is addressed and doesn't continue? We have massive spending and ministers signing off on plans that are completely unacceptable and do not set out any direction as the framework requires them to do.
Okay. I want to revisit the issue of parliamentary oversight, because one of the most important roles we have is that Her Majesty cannot spend any funds that Parliament does not first approve.
Now, I appreciate that the Government of Canada is listing these items. The problem I have is that vote 40 has already been approved by Parliament. The $7 billion was approved, so even as we see these items come up, our ability to talk about where the money is actually going is a moot point because the funds have already been approved.
When I go through the list, I see $9.5 million allocated for aquaculture growth. Well, on the west coast, we have huge problems with fish farms and their impact on wild salmon.
I see $10 million allocated for rural broadband. Do you know how big this country is? Is $10 million even enough to cover that? At the agriculture committee, we were hearing a lot that this is necessary.
Again, my ability to influence or to have any say in the oversight of this spending is limited because the funds have already been approved.
There's $22 million going to protect the southern resident killer whale. Again, it's an issue that my constituents have great concern about.
In terms of my ability to oversee these funds, they have already been approved by Parliament. Do you see where my particular problem is here? The money has already been approved.
At that time, we had no idea of where it was being allocated. That's the issue I have. I'm wondering if you can comment on that.
Mr. MacGregor, this is a tremendously important issue. There was a great deal of debate, within this committee and elsewhere, in the spring. I don't know that a short answer will do it justice.
The starting point is about improving transparency so that parliamentarians understand how the estimates process supports the budget. In the minister's own parlance, we had it completely backwards before. We submitted the estimates. Then we followed up with a budget. Then we brought budget items, a piece at a time, over many years. In some cases, it was five or six years from a budget announcement until the time it showed up in the estimates.
The intention of vote 40 this year was to essentially serve as a report card. The government said in budget 2018 that they expect to spend $7 billion on a cash basis, so we put that in the estimates. We are reporting, every month, about how that money is being allocated and how it's being used. At the end of the year, we will see how the government has done in terms of allocating money to its priorities as announced in budget 2018.
I think that's a tremendous step forward in terms of transparency and just making the process understandable. Parliament approved the budget, and therefore I don't think it's illogical that Parliament would approve the appropriations to implement the budget. What we are doing through our reporting is providing a level of detail and a pace of detail that have simply never existed before. We're supporting that with additional online material, including on InfoBase.
Thank you, Mr. Pagan and everyone, for being with us this afternoon.
I want to talk a little bit about the Gordie Howe bridge, because it's important for where I come from, Newmarket—Aurora. Obviously, auto sector manufacturing is very important. Much of the trade that crosses the border either originates or ends up near that part of the province of Ontario.
The supplementaries are $283.6 million, I think. Why is this number in the supplementaries, and what's changed that this wasn't in the main estimates? This project, of course, has been ongoing for a long time, and it's really starting to pick up speed now. Some hurdles, such as litigation, have now been removed. Construction is now under way or very close to being under way. Was this a timing thing, or was the cash flow not there to start the construction?
Thank you, Mr. Peterson.
This is a regular occurrence with estimates when we are in a world where we are voting appropriations annually, and we will only seek the appropriations once the parameters of a program are known.
The Gordie Howe bridge was planned many years ago, and there was money set aside in the budget, in the fiscal framework for that expenditure. There have been some appropriations over the intervening years to support the procurement process to develop an RFP to purchase some of the land, etc.
The construction of the bridge, the selection of the consortium building the bridge, was finalized this past spring, and a contract was signed with that consortium, I believe, in September of this year. It's a $5.7-billion project that will run until 2024. These supplementary estimates (A) are the first opportunity to bring forward for Parliament's approval the cash requirements of that contract. It's $5.7 billion between now and 2024, and Parliament will see the request for that money. Specifically in these supplementary estimates (A), the $283.6 million is being used to acquire the final properties on the Michigan side of the border and to prepare both sides, the Canada and the U.S. side, for construction, which began last month. Construction began in October.
There will be significant expenditures in the main estimates next year for this department, and then, as the project unfolds, if there are any deviations from the contract and the initial profile of the funding, those would be reflected in supplementary estimates. If the monies requested this year are not utilized, then those will be brought forward in a future year, and we would explain those requirements.