Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
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Pierre Parent
View Pierre Parent Profile
Pierre Parent
2019-04-11 12:03
It's already happening. We have a group of employees who are trained specifically for the transition of those who are not re-elected, and we have a group of employees, who have been assisting members in the past election, for those who are new members and want to have the orientation. This is happening. Also, we're very mindful that these two groups are different, so we're making efforts so these two groups do not necessarily interact. We're being very mindful of that reality.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2019-04-11 12:04
Just in terms of your first comment, in terms of informing MPs now of the various programs that exist, it's actually in the plan that our Sourceplus team members are going to go through all offices to inform them of the various resources available. Thank you for the suggestion.
In terms of the communication, I've just been informed that the phone numbers and emails are kept for 30 days, but we'll review that and we'll also look at the transferability of cellphone numbers, because we do understand these devices....
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
Just to build off that, I agree with, prior to the dissolution of Parliament, being able to share information. I think it's also important that we perhaps request a next of kin or somebody else. As somebody who got to see a colleague who did not get elected again, I understand that the experience can be quite isolating.
I think people oftentimes contact their member of Parliament more because of the position than because of the individual. During the time served here, you learn quickly who your friends are and who they are not, so I would agree with that.
I do believe that the two transition teams—incoming and outgoing—should have some communication, so that when it comes to pressures of vacating an office and so forth, they understand the reality of the individual. If we're bringing compassion into the system, I think it's important that there be some communication regarding who's in and who's out—that kind of thing. How do we perhaps cater to them a little bit more? I hope you have the resources, looking at the fact that the number of members of Parliament has increased to 338.
On the emails front, when you graduate from post-secondary school, you have an email that's part of your post-secondary institution, and then you become an alumnus. As alumni, we could have a way of transitioning it. I think we have to be mindful of the role of a member of Parliament versus someone who is no longer a member of Parliament, and to have respect and regard for the institution.
I think it could be quite a seamless process to provide someone an email address and transition them there so that correspondence or information gets forwarded on. I know when I graduated from the University of Waterloo, my UWaterloo account automatically got moved into an alumni account. My emails continued, and it was quite a seamless transition. I have confidence that Stéphan and his team will be able to do that.
Thank you.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-04-11 12:07
I have one other thing—and I'll raise this with the Association of Former Parliamentarians—but what happens when somebody loses? Only somebody who has lost can really understand what that process is and what it means.
I think it would be very helpful if, in a volunteer capacity—and I'm sure it can be arranged—there was some sort of proactive reach-out after a certain period of time from former parliamentarians to connect with people who've lost, to talk about their experience and how they were able to successfully navigate it.
Maybe you could work with them to formalize that process, because I think it's a unique experience. For me, having contact with people who had lost, and who navigated that, was enormously helpful. I didn't find anybody else who quite understood what I was going through. I think some sort of formalization of that would be important.
I think that those of us who remain after these events—and I've gone through many events where I've lost a lot of colleagues—realize that the madness of the job continues. We're continuing to be pulled between our ridings and Parliament here in Ottawa. To carve out the extra time to reach out to colleagues is incredibly difficult. Former parliamentarians, I think, would be the right group. You get a letter saying, “Welcome to Former Parliamentarians”. A lot of people don't really want to be in that group. It's not an exciting email or letter to get. Reaching out differently, I think, would benefit them as an organization and would benefit members as well.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
When I made the point about the next of kin, I was thinking that sometimes the individual may not recognize that they require some assistance, or that they feel isolated. It would be nice just to have a check-in with someone else. I recall an experience when the people around the person also felt isolated. So maybe someone could check in to make sure the family's okay or whatever.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
With all those suggestions for the administration to further consider, does the board wish to adopt these recommendations with a view to having other things looked at in the future? Is that the wish of members?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
I'll say the same thing here that I've said more than once at the procedure and House affairs committee, PROC, which is that it's important, I think, on an ongoing basis that members of the Board of Internal Economy and PROC insist on being informed and, to use the deputy clerk's words, in sufficient granularity of detail to avoid some of these problems.
Thank you very much.
We will now move on to the next point on the agenda, namely, additional resources for the provision of human resources advisory services to MPs as employers.
To speak on this subject, Pierre Parent is with us. He is the chief human resources officer of the House of Commons,
and also Ms. Robyn Daigle, director of members human resources services.
Pierre Parent
View Pierre Parent Profile
Pierre Parent
2019-02-28 11:56
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today in my capacity as chief human resources officer for the House of Commons to request additional resources to meet the increased demand of HR services to support members and House officers in their role as employers.
I am joined today by Robyn Daigle, director of members HR services.
In recent years, changes have been introduced related to the policy framework and legislative landscape in which members must manage their workplaces. The introduction in 2015 of the House of Commons policy on preventing and addressing harassment and the recent adoption of Bill C-65 will place even greater demands on members' offices to meet the new requirements with respect to health and safety and harassment prevention in the workplace.
As with all employers, members are under increasing pressure to create a positive work environment that responds to evolving social expectations.
The House Administration is seeing an increase in the number of requests from MPs and employees supporting them in the management of their offices for advice, guidance and resources to help them resolve human resources issues. We respond to these requests on an ad hoc basis using existing resources, programs and services.
However, current support is limited and more resources are needed to meet the growing demand. We are also aware that these services must continue to be personalized and take into account the unique nature of the work environment of MPs.
I'll turn things over to Ms. Daigle.
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2019-02-28 11:57
The additional resources being sought will be used to stabilize the current services offered, including those related to training, the respectful workplace program and occupational health and safety, as well as to enhance our orientation services to support members and their staff through the election process and on an ongoing basis.
HR advisory services would also be centralized and offer dedicated HR advice to members. Members would be able to access these services based on their requirements and as they deem necessary.
I should emphasize that the advice and support that our HR team provides will in no way change the fact that members are the sole employers of their staff. The services take into account that each party has its own internal structure and processes when it comes to managing their resources. Our senior HR advisers would continue to work within this infrastructure and with the whips' offices to ensure that the existing service delivery model and the enhancements to it provide complementary enhanced services to members and also to those who assist them in managing their offices.
By ensuring that adequate tools and programs continue to be available, we will be better able to support members in navigating difficult situations and help them to address issues as they arise.
Adequate resources would also assist new members who seek such assistance in establishing their parliamentary and constituency offices and who must balance the various administrative obligations involved in doing so.
Confirming sufficient resources will ensure that members receive responsive, non-partisan, confidential services that enable their decision-making as employers. Ultimately, we believe it will contribute to supporting a positive and successful workplace for members and their staff.
We are happy to answer questions at this time.
View Dominic LeBlanc Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The fundamental issue of the employer function that MPs also perform, in addition to their role as MPs, has long been discussed at Board of Internal Economy meetings. In fact, both Ms. Daigle and Mr. Parent raised it. Especially in recent years, some unfortunate events have occurred, and everyone has tried to improve processes. In my opinion, Mr. Parent and his team have succeeded in doing extraordinary work in an often difficult context due to the public nature of our duties.
These additional resources would be perfectly appropriate and would improve the services offered to members of all political parties in the House of Commons, professional and confidential services that would help to avoid all kinds of situations that would be less than ideal.
They would also better support MPs in their role as employers. Indeed, with the exception of some MPs who have already managed a business or staff before their election to the House of Commons, few new MPs have experience as employers. However, as soon as they are elected, they are expected to set up a constituency office, hire staff in Ottawa and therefore act as an employer in several respects. Everyone wants to do it properly. In my opinion, these services are truly an ideal way to help MPs, not only those who are already in office, but also those who will one day succeed us in Parliament.
I am therefore fully in favour of these additional resources.
I also wanted to congratulate Mr. Parent and his great team. In recent years, we have all benefited as MPs from their very professional and accessible work. It's a way to take this work even further.
View Mark Strahl Profile
I have just a couple of quick questions, I guess, on the financial side.
For the 22 full-time equivalents, the biggest list doesn't really list the position. It says, “Stabilization of existing HR programs and services”. There is “occupational health and safety”, “nurse counsellor”, etc. What are those folks going to do going forward? Maybe just give us a breakdown of what that actually looks like. I'm also interested in the “financial advisors” part of this. What service to members would they be providing?
Also, it looks like your funding request is flat for the next three fiscal years. What metrics will you use to determine whether there is a requirement to increase that? Perhaps, once all members are more aware of their obligations under Bill C-65, more aware of workplaces that are modern and respectful.... All of this work is happening right now. There's a big push for it. Is there any mechanism to say that this will continue to be a requirement at $2.5 million going forward? If so, how will you determine whether you need more or whether you actually don't need as much as has been allocated?
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2019-02-28 12:03
Yes, certainly. Thank you for the question.
In terms of the question on stabilization of resources, currently a lot of services are provided on an ad hoc basis—access to the nurse counsellor through the harassment prevention program, through the respectful workplace program—and also in terms of the renewal of the members' orientation program as well. These are things that we're already having to do, so it's stabilizing those resources, because currently we don't actually have those resources in place. We've been doing it with the existing capacity that we've had. That's where a big piece of that comes from.
There's another piece of that, which is on the HR advisory side. It's not even necessarily that this is something completely new. Again, they are ad hoc resources or requests that have come in through the pay and benefits mechanism. For example, right now, a primary point of entry for the members and those administering their offices is through pay and benefits, but it's supposed to be a transactional.... It's supposed to be moving through some of these employment transactions that are coming in, but because that's one of the few places for members and the staff in those offices to go to, they often get a variety of questions that wouldn't or shouldn't necessarily be fielded by pay advisers.
This is where some of our team are already starting to get involved in these files to help resolve them from a more holistic HR perspective. That's also a stabilization piece. As well, we also know the office of the CHRO has seen a number of requests. That's why we talk about stabilization and enhancement when we talk about these resources.
From a financial adviser perspective, it's not necessarily in the context of providing financial advisory services to members. It's in the context of how most services have that financial management capacity built into their teams from a financial planning perspective and forecasting and budget management. That's where these two resources come into effect.
We would also be hiring a legal adviser for this team to ensure that all the HR advice we are providing to members and to those who are helping to manage their offices is also done in the context of that angle—from an employment law perspective. We just want to make sure that it is a comprehensive service that's being provided.
In terms of the longer term in what we've forecasted, we do recognize that we are going to have to continue to track the volume and the types of inquiries that are coming in. From that perspective, it's something that's done in any type of team environment where you need to track the volume, the types of inquiries and the case management that's being done. We know that we'll have to report up to ask if this is sufficient, if it is ongoing or if we need to reduce or increase.
I can confidently say that I think we have been very realistic in what we've proposed; we haven't stretched far from that perspective. If we ever came back to the board to either reduce or increase those resources, it would be with quite a rationale associated with it.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:06
I'll just say thank you for the work that's done on an ongoing basis and for what's proposed here.
My reflection is that caucuses use these services differently, depending on what internal policies they actualize. My anticipation is that we'll use these additional resources a lot, not because I necessarily anticipate a lot of HR problems—although I do think these things arise—but it's more because good HR policy is about being proactive, about creating environments where there is a network of support to be able to catch and remediate issues early, before they advance.
I've expressed concern in the past, but I won't belabour the point now. There probably will be more needed as we modernize our HR practices overall, but certainly this is a step in the right direction and I am favourable.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Is there anyone else?
Is it the will of the board to approve this request?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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