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Philippe Dufresne
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Philippe Dufresne
2019-12-12 12:45
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the Board of Internal Economy.
This is a funding request for the provision of legal and legislation services to members of Parliament. We offer these services to all members of Parliament so they can carry out all of their parliamentary functions, including drafting of private members' bills and amendments. We provide legal advice and representation to opposition MPs as managers, and in relation to their role in their riding. There have been major changes in the legal and legislative context for members of Parliament, which has led them to request additional support.
There are three major changes. The first is that we now have 10% more members of Parliament. That has resulted in a matching 10% rise in our workload and in requests for advice and representation.
We have dealt with that 10% increase through the addition of four positions that have been risk-managed by the House administration, representing a 13% increase in the team.
Two other major changes have occurred since 2015, one on the legislative side and another on the legal side.
On the legislative side, we have seen a significant increase in the number of messages and amendments from the Senate following the adoption of bills by the House. In the 41st Parliament we had two messages, and in the 42nd Parliament we had 32, so 16 times as many.
That increase has resulted in delays, longer timelines for the preparation of private members' bills by my office, and longer timelines for the preparation of amendments. In terms of the time and potentially the quality of the services, that touches on one of the fundamental roles of members of Parliament. We would like to see that delay reduced. It's now at 48 sitting days for the preparation of a private member's bill, and we would like to bring that back to 30 sitting days, which it was before, if not fewer.
On the legal side, the last Parliament saw the adoption of four acts that bring in new legal obligations on members and on the institution, so these are quite significant. They are Bill C-58, on proactive disclosure; Bill C-65, on health and safety and the prevention of harassment and violence; Bill C-81, on accessibility; and Bill C-86, on pay equity.
These bills have brought, or will bring, with them obligations in terms of all aspects of members' work, and they will bring in complaint mechanisms that will require legal advice and legal representation.
To address this change, we are first asking the Board of Internal Economy to stabilize funding for the four positions added and managed by the House Administration. We're also requesting funding for three additional positions, bringing the total to seven: four legal and three non-legal positions. This would help us to cope with the new context.
This would allow us to reduce the timelines and to provide more proactive services to members, and it would allow members to meet the new legal obligations, since 2015.
I can now answer your questions.
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