Good day, everyone, on a Friday on Parliament Hill.
I now call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 38 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), the committee is meeting today on its study of the Public Accounts of Canada 2022, referred to the committee on Thursday, October 27, 2022.
I would like to welcome all of our witnesses today.
From the Office of the Auditor General, we welcome Karen Hogan. It's nice to see you again. Seeing the Auditor General of Canada is becoming a frequent occurrence, and a nice one, of course. We also say hello to Etienne Matte, principal, and Chantale Perreault, principal.
From the Department of Finance, we have Evelyn Dancey, assistant deputy minister, economic policy branch. Hello. It's nice to see you.
We have Nicholas Leswick, associate deputy minister. It's good to see you again
From the Treasury Board Secretariat, we have Roch Huppé, comptroller general of Canada. It's good to see you again, sir. We have Monia Lahaie, assistant comptroller general, financial management sector; and Diane Peressini, executive director, government accounting policy and reporting. Hello.
I understand there are opening statements from the Treasury Board as well as the Auditor General.
Ms. Hogan, you have the floor for five minutes.
Go ahead, please.
Mr. Chair, thank you for this opportunity to discuss our audit of the Government of Canada’s consolidated financial statements for the 2021–22 fiscal year. I would like to acknowledge that this hearing is taking place on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. With me today are Chantale Perreault and Etienne Matte, who are financial audit principals.
The government’s financial statements are one of its key accountability documents. Our audit of these statements provides information that helps Parliament exercise its oversight of the government, promotes transparency and encourages good financial management. Our audit of the government’s financial statements is the largest audit conducted by my office and involves the work of most of our 250 financial auditors. You will find our audit opinion on the government’s consolidated financial statements starting on page 54 of volume 1 of the Public Accounts of Canada 2022.
We have found that you can rely on the information contained in the financial statements. In all material respects, the information is presented fairly and conforms with generally accepted accounting principles for the public sector. In other words, we issued a clean opinion. Again this year, our opinion includes an “emphasis of matter” paragraph. It highlights the significant impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on certain amounts presented in the government’s consolidated financial statements and related notes.
Every year, we provide Parliament with a commentary report that highlights important information about the results of our federal financial audits. The commentary provides a summary of the government’s spending in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic and its effects on the government’s financial statements. The commentary also gives an overview of the government’s process for identifying overpayments or payments made to ineligible recipients of COVID-19 benefits, and its process for estimating recoverable amounts.
In December, we will provide a performance audit report to Parliament on specific COVID-19 benefit programs. That audit report will contain our findings about overpayments, amounts paid to ineligible individuals and businesses, and the government’s collection efforts.
We also noted that the outstanding pay action requests involving overpayments totalled over $500 million, which the government is at risk of not being able to recover. This indicates that more efforts are needed to process requests in a timely manner.
We have been reporting for nearly two decades on National Defence's difficulties in recording its inventory. While the department has completed most of the commitments in its 10‑year action plan, the commitment to implement a barcoding and scanning capability in its inventory management system is delayed. This means it will take longer before the inventory management is improved.
The commentary also provides information about some emerging requirements that will affect our future financial audit work. Specifically, we highlight new requirements in legislation and government policies to report on environmental, social and governance matters, and a new accounting standard for the government to record asset retirement obligations.
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the senior officials and staff of the many departments, agencies and Crown corporations involved in preparing the government's financial statements. We appreciate their ongoing collaboration.
This concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer the committee's questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the Public Accounts of Canada 2022.
Before I begin, I'd like to point out that I am speaking today from the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people.
As your committee knows, the public accounts include the audited consolidated financial statements for fiscal year 2021‑2022, which ended March 31, 2022, in addition to other unaudited financial information.
I'm pleased to report that, for the 24th consecutive year, the Office of the Auditor General has issued an unmodified or clean opinion on these financial statements.
I would like to thank the financial management community of the Government of Canada, the Department of Finance and the Receiver General, and the Office of the Auditor General for helping prepare the public accounts.
Let me now turn to some of the highlights in this year’s documents.
Total revenues in these public accounts amounted to $413.3 billion in 2022, which represents an increase of $96.8 billion, or 30.6%, from 2021.
Total expenses amounted to $503.5 billion in 2022, which is down $140.7 billion, or 21.8%, from 2021.
As expected, the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the financial statements.
The total impact of the key COVID-19 response measures on fiscal year 2022 is estimated at over $70 billion.
These include the Canada emergency wage subsidy at $22.3 billion; the Canada recovery benefit, Canada recovery sickness benefit, Canada recovery caregiving benefit and Canada worker lockdown benefit, totalling $16.5 billion; and the Canada emergency rent subsidy, totalling $3.7 billion.
Mr. Chair, another point is often raised, and I'd like to clarify something. It's about when the public accounts are tabled.
The Financial Administration Act requires that the President of the Treasury Board table the public accounts each year while Parliament is sitting, by no later than December 31. Although the deadline is set out in the act, the actual tabling date varies from year to year during this period.
For example, in years when elections are held in the fall, tabling generally occurs closer to the end of the calendar year. Other factors also affect the timing. Once the Auditor General has approved the public accounts, it takes several weeks to prepare them for publication. This includes the creation of an online version which, by law, must meet accessibility requirements.
The timing of tabling for this year was within typical timelines of mid to late October in a non-election year. I want to assure this committee that we are looking for ways to help boost our efficiency throughout the production process to achieve the optimal timeline for the tabling of the Public Accounts of Canada.
Mr. Chair, I would also like to acknowledge that we are currently reviewing this committee's recent report on the 2021 public accounts. In particular, we are assessing the committee's recommendations, including the one concerning tabling timelines.
We are continually looking for opportunities to improve how our government operates. This includes the modernization of the public accounts. Based on the recommendations of this committee, the government committed to study potential improvements, and I am pleased to report that this work is under way. To identify possible streamlining opportunities, we reviewed the existing content of the public accounts to identify information that is available through other means not required by legislation, and some with thresholds that have not changed for decades.
In addition, we have received feedback from the Library of Parliament on opportunities to improve the presentation and format of the Public Accounts of Canada. At the same time, we have engaged key stakeholders on additional potential improvements through a survey. The purpose of the survey is to better understand how the Public Accounts of Canada are being used and to gather feedback on opportunities to improve and modernize them. The feedback is critical to ensure that any changes to the public accounts provide information that is relevant, timely and useful for accountability purposes.
I would like to reiterate that any proposed changes will be carefully examined to ensure that the government's financial information continues to support transparency and accountability to parliamentarians and Canadians.
As this project moves forward, the government will continue to work closely with parliamentarians, stakeholders, and this committee.
Thank you for your attention. We are now ready to take your questions.
Good afternoon, everyone. I'm happy to see you all here.
Let's put some context into the good volumes we have here.
We can all agree that the Public Accounts of Canada 2022 are not necessarily representative of a normal year, as it was a pandemic year that brought extraordinary expenditures and revenues.
During the pandemic, the Department of Finance took some leadership, particularly with respect to pandemic-related assistance programs, whether for businesses or individuals. However, I'd like us to take a closer look at the investments related to some Crown corporations. By the way, there is a slight translation error: “investissements” is translated as “participations”, which is not really accurate in accounting terms.
In Volume I of the Public Accounts of Canada 2022, it becomes clear fairly quickly that Crown corporation spending exploded during the pandemic. In particular, the investments of Export Development Canada (EDC) increased by 17%, from $12 billion to almost $15 billion in a single year. A similar observation can be made for the Business Development Bank of Canada, where spending grew from $18 billion to $20 billion from 2021 to 2022.
I have a first question for Department of Finance officials.
Who decided that Crown corporations would administer pandemic-related assistance programs?
I'm actually going to ask a follow‑up question about that.
Coming back to the public accounts, after the pandemic when the balance sheet is being drawn up, it's impossible for the average person to know exactly how much money is being spent, how many corporations are spending, what those corporations are called and where they are located, because Crown corporations don't have the same accounting standards as government departments.
My next question is for the Auditor General.
We understand that your mandate primarily empowers you to look at programs overseen by multiple departments. In the case of pandemic-related assistance programs, in your opinion, would it not be relevant to go and look at how the Crown corporations managed some of them, especially since the average Canadian can't do so should they be very interested in these kinds of numbers?
Let's talk specifically about the CEBA, or the Canada emergency business account. For those watching me or hearing the excellent interpretation provided to us, this program provided interest-free loans of $40,000 to $60,000 to over 900,000 small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations. The government has lent more than $49 billion through this program.
In recent weeks, thousands of businesses have been asked to pay back the full amount, including a grant they are expecting to receive by December 31, 2023. Because the EDC is not intended to interact with the public, these businesses are unable to get answers about the rejections, submit another document, or simply talk to someone. That's because the EDC doesn't have a customer service department or a department tasked with providing that type of service.
Why was the EDC entrusted with this program?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank all the witnesses for being present. I'm sorry I'm not there with you, and I hope our conversation today is not diminished by that.
I want to begin by talking about something that perhaps the Auditor General and others could have guessed I was going to bring up. It's something that's been a recurring theme in many audits, in particular related to questions I've posed to Treasury Board in the past on the Phoenix pay system. There is no question that disaster is affecting regular folks. It's affecting people in my community. It's affecting people right across the country.
I want to share with my fellow committee members and with the witnesses here a story of someone named Tristan, a gentleman who works here in Edmonton for Parks Canada. He began working for Parks Canada in 2015. During that experience, in 2016 and 2018, he found that he was underpaid by $7 per hour. That's a massive amount of money to go without, particularly with the cost of living crisis we're having now.
He thought it might have been fixed when he received a $3,000 payment one month. He thought he was being compensated for what had been a really terrible underfunding of his paycheque. What he received next, however, was a bill to reclaim that money. He had thought for a while that the system had fixed itself, but he found quickly that it wasn't the case, and he was being asked to pay money back while also being underpaid by $7 an hour.
This has real-life consequences. This person, Tristan, is a real person, a member of PSAC who has advocated within his rights as a worker to try to resolve this system on behalf of so many workers.
This is a real issue affecting Canadians, and it affects them on regular decisions like whether or not they're going to buy a house. Can I afford to buy a house? Can I have children? Can I get married? These are the questions Tristan is asking himself and his family members. It breaks my heart to know this is the case, not just for Tristan but thousands of people across the country.
I looked at the Auditor General's report, and I want to thank the Auditor General for her commentary, which is a supplement to the audited statements in relation to her comments on the Phoenix pay system. It's true that the percentage of errors is concerning to the Auditor General and to me, and I believe there is a significant issue. I point to evidence suggesting that the supplement on point 35 and point 36 demonstrates that there is a total increase in the number of pay requests needing to be resolved.
I'd like to begin by asking representatives of the Treasury Board Secretariat some very important questions, and I hope to get some good answers.
Is it acceptable that the level of outstanding pay requests is still continuing to rise, six years after this Phoenix catastrophe began?
It's been almost two decades that we have been raising concerns with Parliament about National Defence's difficulty with recording its inventory. It's mostly in the last few years related to the quantities and the dollar values assigned to it and is a result of internal control weaknesses in how its employees record and enter these transactions.
We attend their inventory accounts at the end of the year, and when we count items, as you mentioned, like guns, bullets and so on, we can tell you they do an excellent job of tracking those. However, National Defence's inventory has hundreds of thousands of different elements, and it is giving us the comfort that the quantities and the dollar values assigned to them are accurate.
National Defence is still working hard at that. That bar-coding project that it intends to put into place, we believe, will significantly contribute to its ability to reduce errors in its inventory.
Thank you very much, Chair.
I too would like to thank the Auditor General for making herself available to this committee on such a regular basis, and the comptroller general too, of course, and all other witnesses who are here with us today.
It's so interesting to hear the questions from my colleagues concerning the long-standing problems, like the inventory problems. That is something this committee has been concerned about and addresses regularly.
Also, there was the openness and candour in the Auditor General's remarks concerning, for example, the “emphasis of matter”, the fact that the COVID expenditures are extraordinary. While we all know about COVID right now, and it's very present for us, I imagine that 20 years from now, a public accounts committee looking at historical work and wondering what the heck happened during those years will have that available.
I would like to ask both the comptroller general and the Auditor General about the tabling of the reports. I hear some concern from my colleagues that it should be sooner rather than later, and I think we all agree on that. Historically, especially outside of election years, what was the date that the public accounts were tabled?
Would that be Monsieur Huppé who can best answer me, or the Auditor General?
That's a great question.
It's not necessarily about having less reporting. It's that there's a lot of reporting happening at the same time and a lot of duplicate reporting. There's a lot of information on different departmental sites or other sites. What we're trying to do is make sure we eliminate the duplication as much as possible. We're not trying to take away the transparency.
You've kind of said it.... We're always asking for more, but at the same time, we're being asked to table and prepare the public accounts in a faster fashion. Again, right now, we have about 2,500 pages. When I take a look at provincial public accounts, for example, the average is about 450 pages. We're trying to find that balance.
Also, to be fair, for decades we had thresholds on what we reported. For example, on ex gratia payments, we report on a line-by-line item everything that's above $100. Everything below that is grouped together. On this notion of $100, it's not worth the same as it was decades ago, so again it's the materiality of how we report things. That's the type of thing we're trying to look at to gain efficiency, while at the same time making sure we're not going to lose any transparency. That remains available.
Thank you for your question.
Quite honestly, there are two things. One is there's no excuse for the poor client service experience that you're associated with, or that your client or your interlocutors are talking about. That sounds terrible.
EDC were a key partner with us at the very front edge of the crisis. Honestly speaking, it was because they had the full waterfront of financial instruments available to them. They had expertise in guarantees, insurance, lending and equity. They had plugged-in relationships with financial institutions and credit unions in both federally and provincially regulated spaces. We needed them at that point in time.
When we deployed the emergency business account, which was the big thing for small and medium-sized businesses, we relied on EDC.
Downstream, their client service performance and your request for better reporting and better identification of who got the loans regionally and by the size of business.... The point has been completely taken. I haven't looked at a CEBA performance report in a long time. Perhaps I should brush up on my understanding of that, but it's certainly been noted.
Thank you for your response.
I will stay on the same topic.
In this case, if we agree that, in terms of performance and reporting of activities, things need to be done better, wouldn't it be appropriate to simply ask Crown corporations to report information the same way that departments do?
The Canada emergency business account, CEBA, is a very good example of this, but in general, going forward, if there's one thing CEBA can be used for, it's to demonstrate how important it is that Crown corporations be transparent.
Don't you think so?
I'd like to turn to an area within the report containing information related to additional information and outcomes. It was noted that there could be in this instance work related to environmental, social and governance reporting. It's the mandate of this committee in many ways to look at outcomes and the processes of those outcomes to make sure that, in fact, public spending reaches those targets.
In relation to environment, social and governance reporting, we have Commissioner DeMarco on behalf of the environment making his contributions, too.
Outcome studies are important for the work of understanding how Canadians can expect results for their investments. With regard to social and governance reporting, it's important, I feel, to find meaningful ways to enhance our reporting to take into account those other aspects.
To the Auditor General, you made mention of a part of this in your commentary. How could the government ensure that other aspects of reporting, including social and governance reporting, are relative and complete and can contribute to a meaningful and holistic understanding of our reports?
Absolutely. This is an area that is extremely important. I have to say that it is on our radar quite a bit.
Obviously, there is some reporting that is happening right now. If you think about environmental types of reporting, we have the greening government strategy and others. That said, there's a lot of work now that's going to get done on imposing, potentially, other standards that will come and affect what we report and how we report on this.
My team, the Auditor General and I.... Actually, we both sit on the Public Sector Accounting Board and are privy to a lot of discussions about what could be coming down the pipe. Be reassured that we are following this. Obviously, as soon as more information and standards get developed and imposed, we will adapt our reporting accordingly.
Thank you very much, Chair.
I've been poring through these public accounts. It's one of the most comprehensive documents on government spending that I've worked with. There's a lot of interesting information in it.
I want to jump to the issue of the Passport Canada revolving fund. I've been hearing a lot from constituents about concerns about passports and horrific failures in terms of service levels. I was interested to see how the money was being spent in the area of passports. This is on page 97 of volume III.
I was struck by a few things. Number one, if I'm reading this right, is that the numbers in brackets, which are most of the numbers, are still unaudited. Number two is that in both 2021 and 2022, the actual spending was way over the amount contained in the estimates. It was more than double in 2021 and still $100 million more in 2022.
What's going on here? Maybe I'll go to the Auditor General first and then the Department of Finance.
What's behind these seeming oddities I'm identifying here?
Okay, you don't have an answer. Could we get an answer in writing ahead of Tuesday, though? I'd like to get an initial sense of what went wrong, and then I can follow up.
Again, I'm expecting that we'll see audited information, especially in an area that's been so sensitive and such an issue of concern for Canadians.
I also just noted, in terms of the expenses of the Passport Canada revolving fund, that there was actually a decrease from 2021 to 2022 in the amount we're spending on salaries and employee benefits. I would have assumed that there would have been a significant increase in demand for services.
Are we cutting back the number of people working for Passport Canada? Is that part of the explanation behind the service problems?
It was $101 million in 2021 and $94.5 million in 2022. Again, why are we spending less on salaries and employees at Passport Canada between these two years?
The EI insurance premium line reflects premiums paid by employers and employees on payroll deductions. The approximately $24 billion just reflects that income drawn into the EI account, which is consolidated with larger consolidated revenues.
Is the EI account well positioned? I mean, the EI account is in deficit right now, so in that context, I would potentially question whether it's well positioned. On the other hand, the employment insurance program itself, I think we've shown, has shown some resilience and has been fit for purpose over the course of the last number of recessions. It seems to be very adaptable and flexible to economic conditions. It's dynamic to different parts of the country, and it provides an appropriate replacement rate for workers who have temporary layoffs.
I'm confident in that, but in terms of the financing of the account, I mean, it's been a rough road over the last two years, quite frankly. We need to rebase in our position in the account.
I probably will cede the floor to people who may have more precision, but I can offer a first-level response.
Of course, Crown corporations were involved in the delivery of COVID programming to some extent. That is trickling through the financials, and their circumstances are improving over time as a result of that.
Enterprise Crown corporations that are active in financial markets and delivering financial services are also benefiting in terms of their performance along with the broader economic recovery. Looking ahead, we also talked in the fall economic statement about improvements that would arise from interest-bearing activities of the enterprise Crown corporations, as well as of the government in a rising interest rate environment.
If anyone else wishes to add, they're welcome to.
I'm not a pension expert, but I will do my best.
Really, it is the accumulation of.... Let me back up. Pension liabilities are very complex and long-term liabilities. In order to determine the value today—and in this case at March 31—of this very long-term liability, actuarials get involved. They include a whole bunch of assumptions about demographics, how long people will live, the economy and inflation. There are tons of input. Every year, that fluctuates, and as those fluctuations happen, those are the actuarial gains and losses that are reflected in the liability.
They are then, under public sector accounting standards, deferred and sort of amortized over time into the accounts. It is just a way of sort of present-valuing the long-term liability into today's dollars.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I just want to return quickly to a line of questioning I had earlier on the Phoenix pay system and pay administration in the public service. In the financial commentaries, again, there were comments on the fact that there were 310,000 outstanding pay action requests as of March 31, 2022, an increase compared to 254,000 as of March 31, 2021. Of course, some of those requests, as the Auditor General mentioned, are straightforward actions—banking changes, general enquiries and other items.
What I think is important is if the Auditor General could comment on what would be an acceptable number of outstanding pay action requests in light of Phoenix.
It's something lower than 310,000, for sure.
PSPC handles about 100,000 to 120,000 pay requests on a monthly basis. The objective is to treat all of these requests, 95% of the time, within an acceptable time frame. You're never going to have no backlog, obviously, as the Auditor General mentioned a little earlier. One could see that something in the neighbourhood of rolling 5%, or around there, would probably seem reasonable.
As I said, our colleagues at public services would need to weigh in here. I'm stepping out on a limb. It's just to give you an idea of the number of requests they receive per month and what they're shooting for as a target, to deal with them in the established timelines 95% of the time.
Mr. Blake Desjarlais: Out of the amount that—
Definitely, over the last couple of years with the pandemic, we've seen an increase.
The largest increase is in health and welfare services. You would understand the reason for that, obviously. The pandemic is the main reason. Then you would see an increase in engineering and architectural services and what we call “business services”.
Again, it's very hard to point out trends. In health care services, obviously we understand the trend from the last few years, but in a lot of other cases it's based on when and why you need these services. That will vary. For example, engineering, architectural and shipbuilding are the types of services you will require, as well as services for a lot of our major real property. We talked about the renovations of the parliamentary precinct, for example. As we're seeing some of these large projects evolve, the need for these professional services will line up with that.
Can I interrupt you for two seconds?
Would you be able to provide us with what the added liability would be if the funded discount rate was similar to the unfunded?
The reason I ask that is I remember reading a report in which the Treasury Board justified using a higher discount rate because it had a higher rate of return. It has a higher rate of return because it's investing in higher-risk assets, and it can invest in higher-risk equities and assets because the taxpayers will cover any losses. It's a very circular logic, because the taxpayers will cover any losses on our investments.
I'm wondering, if we went back, as C.D. Howe and others have said, to using real returns or bonds like the unfunded, what the outstanding liability would be.
Obviously, you can get back to us, because I don't want an answer right now.
In bankruptcy, you become discharged.
I want to make a point here. When I say you write something off, like I said, you need to meet certain criteria. Your collection action will basically stop. I'll give you an example.
On the tax write-offs—which are a few billion every year—the CRA will receive money from individuals who, although their account has been written off, will stay pay their amount due. There are monies that are still recovered, but not necessarily through active collection action a lot of the time.
However, if you're in a situation in which you cannot locate a debtor and then you have information that may allow you to resume collection action, you're entitled to do that in some of these cases.
A great example of that is the revenue amount. Most of the revenues—75% or about that—are in relation to our tax revenues. When you take into account the timeline by which people have to file their taxes, personal taxes are April 30 and business taxes are in June. Because it's such an important amount, we try to rely as much on actual numbers as we can. We let the returns come in at CRA up until around the end of May. Then, with the information we have, we actually estimate the accrual portion of the revenues for that year.
Again, as we indicated, a lot of work goes into these accrual estimates, especially on the revenue side. We have to be mindful. The Auditor General mentioned at the beginning that it was definitely her largest financial audit by far. I would say it was probably the largest in the country by far. Again, the audit work to validate and do checks and balances on what is being reported is quite considerable.
I come back to the fact that we're trying to find ways to become more efficient without losing credibility in the numbers. That tax revenue number is highly key and highly material, so we have to make sure our methodologies to come up with the final revenue number are actually solid, sound, checked and so on.
As I said earlier, we're doing work right now to try to look at the administrative portion of producing the book itself—the e-version of it—to see if we can gain some efficiencies there to allow us to maybe gain a week or two in the process.
Obviously, the number of pages shows you the amount of information that we have to produce and collect. That takes time. Every department does that.
The different jurisdictions also work in different sets of legislative frameworks. For example, in our case, like for some provinces, we need to table these in Parliament. In some other cases, they release the actual public accounts and don't have to formally table them. In a year like last year, had we been in a different legislative framework, we could have released that information, perhaps, before Parliament resumed in November 2021.
There are also other practices where some elect to stagger the tabling. If they have two volumes, they'd table volume one and then volume two later.
Those are all the types of avenues we're trying to look at and what we would need to do to try to advance these tablings.
Again, that level of complexity when I talked about revenues.... In a province, the portion of their tax revenues is probably about 35% on average of their total revenue. Again, the methodologies they use to come up with their accrual number are probably a lot less sophisticated than ours, where it is extremely material and where we want to make sure there's no misstatement in an area like—
We'll wait, because we will have the same group back on Tuesday. That can be your first question, Ms. Shanahan.
I'm going to get cut off here. The moment the whips agree to give us more time, I will be even more indulgent than I am with members.
Before we sign off, there's an issue that I hope we'll come back to next week. It builds on some comments that Mr. Desjarlais had at the top about the Phoenix pay system. It's not just the pay side that is a challenge for workers—overpayments and underpayments. I understand as well that there is a legal window that's closing for the government to recoup some of those payments. I'm curious to know what the total outstanding overpayment has been to date and the risk to the government going forward. However, we'll save that for Tuesday.
Mr. Leswick, you had a comment about the $45 billion in debt interest charges, which I think you pegged at either 2027 or 2028. If I'm not mistaken, we're going to hit that number next year. I could be wrong. I'm going off the top of my head here. We can again save this for Tuesday.
When we start talking about 2028 potentially, we don't really know what the interest rates are going to be out there. The fact is that debt interest payments are going up rapidly, from $24 billion last year to $35 billion this year to $45 billion, if my memory serves, next year. We might have a little discussion on that on Tuesday.
With that, I will look for agreement to adjourn.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: I wish you all a happy Friday and weekend.
Thank you very much to all our witnesses today. I appreciate it.
We'll see many of you again on Tuesday.