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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Welcome to the 10th meeting of the Board of Internal Economy.
We'll start off with the minutes of the previous meeting.
Everything is acceptable. Does anybody have any comments to make on that?
I see that there are no comments about the minutes.
Are there any comments about business arising from the previous meeting?
Okay. Everything is clear.
Item three is on sustaining the information technology systems and facility assets from the long-term vision and plan, LTVP.
We'll have Stéphan Aubé, chief information officer, and Daniel Paquette, chief financial officer, present to us this morning.
Before we continue, I want to remind everyone that we do have a lot of material to cover this morning. I want to make sure you keep your questions concise, very thorough but very concise, if possible.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Aubé, you have the floor.
Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:04
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members of the board.
We're here to obtain approval for permanent funding for the operations, maintenance, support and life-cycling of building connectivity assets that are transferred from PSPC to the House as part of the long-term renovations.
This business case is not a new business case. It's actually an update to a previous approval that was made by the board. The House administration came to this board in 2014 to seek approval for connectivity assets. It came back in 2015 to seek approval for components assets. It also came back in 2017 to seek approval for both connectivity and components assets.
The board had approved $24.6 million in temporary funding at that time. In addition to the $24.6 million that we're now seeking as permanent funding, we've also updated the life-cycling plan to include the assets of $6.7 million that have been transferred since 2017 to the House. The $6.7 million represents the budgeting that is required to sustain $77 million of assets that were transferred from the renovations to the House.
I would like to give you a bit of the history of the funding and the approvals that were previously received, because some members of this board might not have been here at that time.
The 2014-2015 submission to the Board of Internal Economy primarily involved assets transferred in connection with the renovations, which you see in yellow on the diagram.
After 2007, the goal of the long-term renovations was to get people out of the Wellington Building, the Valour Building and the Sir John A. Macdonald Building in order to renovate those buildings. So we renovated the Justice Building and, through Public Works, we acquired space on Queen Street so that we could relocate the House Administration people there.
The first submission focused on those buildings and some of the BCC projects, the building components and connectivity program, that we had put in place. Because we knew that Parliament Hill was growing at that time, we had plans to network all those buildings together, like a campus. We had projects like the massive conduit work on Sparks Street. A multimedia operations centre was also established for all broadcasting requirements.
In 2017, we returned to the Board of Internal Economy to request the necessary funds to support the renovations to the Wellington Building. The building at 180 Wellington Street houses 60 members of Parliament, and has about 10 committee rooms. We had also requested funds to support assets related to the Sir John A. Macdonald Building and the Valour Building. We also needed two other buildings so we could relocate House Administration staff.
Today, when we say $6.6 million, we are mainly referring to assets associated with the operation of the West Block. As you know, that's the building currently in use. We also have the Visitor Welcome Centre.
These primarily make up the requests for permanent funding we are presenting today to the Board of Internal Economy.
When we talk about assets throughout this presentation, we are basically talking about two different categories of assets. We talk about connectivity assets, such as the cable TV network that's on the Hill, the integrated security system, the networking aspects and all the multimedia aspects. We also talk about component assets. These are assets that are linked to the facilities, but they are basically mobile within the facilities, such as the furniture, the art and artifacts and any specialized equipment such as broadcast lighting and air conditioning that are related to technologies. These are the particular assets we're talking about that are under the responsibility of the House.
This chart depicts the amount of assets that have been transferred as part of the renovations to the House. As you can see, there are $205 million of assets that have been transferred since 2000. Over the last four years, since 2016, the $77 million basically represents the assets that weren't part of the 2017 approval that we sought from the board. What you're seeing through this chart is a depiction of the changes. The changes that we're seeking through this business case are basically linked to connectivity. You see the variances. We've demonstrated the variances across the different areas of investments, which total up to $6.6 million.
From a components perspective, as I said, for the assets that are linked to the buildings, we're not seeking any additional funding. The reason for this is we believe with the funding that we have, and also based on the current situation due to COVID, we'd like to defer any changes to that element of the funding that we received in the past because there could be possible changes in the future. We just want to focus on the connectivity assets because this is where we actually have an understanding of what possible funding requirements we'll have in the future.
Lastly, I'll give you a bit of the history. Why are we responsible for this? When the long-term renovations were launched in the late 1990s, there was an agreement between all partners, the parliamentary partners being the Senate and the House, and PSPC, which outlined the roles and responsibilities. Basically, for these projects, such as the West Block, Public Works is accountable for the overall project scope and delivery of them, but they're also responsible for the capital funding. They provide the funding when we need to actually acquire these assets, but we are accountable for the operational funding, so the maintenance, the support and also the life cycle of it. This is a key element of why we're here today, because we are accountable for making this happen, so it is our obligation to actually fund these assets.
I just wanted to outline some of the benefits of why it's important for the House to actually receive this funding. I put these pictures there and some of you might remember these facilities. As you see, the picture in the middle is an actual committee room pre-renovation. This was a committee room in the Valour Building. I have pictures also of the West Block. They're very similar. You can see the tables, the layout of the facilities and the amount of technology that was in these facilities. The picture on the right is actually the broadcasting facilities that we've had to provide services to the chamber and to the committees from a television perspective. There are many temporary facilities. These buildings weren't equipped with the equipment that we had to put forward to actually offer 21st century meetings. I just wanted to give you guys a bit of history from a benefit perspective.
You'll also see the cabling arrangement in these facilities. This is actually a picture of Centre Block. It shows the security systems, how they were actually installed because we didn't have the infrastructure to support them. Basically now, with these renovations, we've allowed members to have facilities that enable them to interact and have proper meeting facilities for the caucuses, the committees and the chamber.
Finally, there's been a lot of investments in order to enable parliamentarians to better communicate and serve their constituents in the chamber, as well as from an infrastructure perspective behind the walls.
Having said that, the final recommendation is that we're here to recommend that the board move forward with the investment required, and also that we move forward with the permanent funding as of 2023-24 of nearly $30 million for these assets that have been transferred to the House.
Mr. Speaker, I'll just open it up for questions.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good. Are there any questions?
Mr. Julian.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much. I appreciate the detail that is in the documents.
I want to be sure that this allows for the transition and acquisition of both the capital and staffing required and that there won't be further funds required in coming years. This issue, as you've mentioned, Mr. Aubé, has come back repeatedly to the BOIE over the last few years. I think that certainly Canadians want to know that we're actually putting into place a plan that works for the long term and that is sustainable.
Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:14
Thank you, Mr. Julian, for the question.
There are two parts to your question. We have came back every three years because in 2014 we made a commitment to the board that we would come back every three years. We had recognized that there were a lot of renovations under way and we weren't ready to actually commit to permanent funding because we didn't have the clear picture at that time. This is why we came back every three years. I can attest, sir, that we feel with a high level of confidence there won't be requirements for the existing assets we have.
Having said that, there are facilities that will need to be onboarded in the future, sir, such as at Centre Block. We're starting the renovations of Centre Block. We're also starting the renovations of the Confederation Building. We're in planning. We're also looking at the renovations on Sparks. These would be separate elements, sir, but for all the elements that I've shown you, we are not planning to come back to the board. We feel that we have a very sure understanding of the requirements of the funding for the assets that we've transferred. We feel very confident.
I would ask my colleague Dan, the CFO, to comment on that. We've done our due diligence, sir, from a financial planning perspective on all these assets.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:15
I want to comment on that also.
We've done our homework. We've done due diligence on best practice for this kind of technology and the pieces here. That's why we were coming back every three years. We wanted things to be stabilized. As Stéphan outlined in his presentation, we have had oversight and control of some of these buildings in their renovated state for a couple of years or more. We're able now to actually sit down and do those estimates with some level of assurance.
Obviously, none of us have a crystal ball. Unless some really unusual event occurs or changes occur in how Parliament wants to do business, for these buildings and these assets, this is our best estimate of what we feel is needed long term.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
There will be additional funding in the coming year or two, on Centre Block and Sparks Street, potentially.
Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:16
That would be in the long run, sir. We don't see that over the next six years, at least. We see that in a longer time period.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions?
I'll just follow on Mr. Julian's question, if I can. It's the prerogative of the chair to ask a question.
Just to clarify, I think we're mixing hard assets and operations here. They're two separate issues. What we have here is operations, correct? Salaries? That has nothing to do with purchasing new assets.
Stéphan Aubé
View Stéphan Aubé Profile
Stéphan Aubé
2020-11-19 11:17
It's not only salaries, sir. It's the ability to maintain and support the assets, such as the cameras in this facility. We have to life-cycle them over the years. What we're seeking is the money to life-cycle them whenever the end of life will come to them. We're also seeking the money to support them and maintain them during their expected life cycle. We had sought some original money for salaries in the previous periods. We're not seeking any additional funding for salaries.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good. Thank you.
Are there any other questions?
There are two recommendations. Are we okay with those recommendations?
Very good, we're in accordance.
We are moving on to item 4.
It concerns funding stabilization.
The first witnesses will be Mr. Paquette and Ms. Laframboise.
You have the floor.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:18
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm here today on behalf of the administration to present two submissions. They're both seeking the board's approval for funding to stabilize the capacity that is needed to maintain certain initiatives that have been undertaken to support members in the fulfillment of their parliamentary function.
The first request is for funding to stabilize enhanced services provided by financial services and human resource services to support legislative and policy changes or to improve our service delivery.
The second request is for funding to stabilize resources following the implementation of a comprehensive enterprise resource planning and business renewal initiative that was undertaken to replace the outdated financial and human resource platform.
I'd like to provide a bit of context here. There have been several legislative and policy amendments over the last few years that have driven changes in the area of finance and human resources. These include the coming into force of Bill C-44 and Bill C-65, in addition to many bylaws and policy amendments. In addition to this, we've been making significant investments to better assist members in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions, including but not limited to the LTVP that we've just finished talking about, which changed how we do business on the precinct. It modernized and enhanced our technology and telecommunications. We also need to manage the sustainability of those various assets across facilities.
There have also been the investments around the security enhancements, the increase in broadcasting and webcasting for committees, the modernization of our food services, the HR services for members as employers and the managing of computing in the constituency that has been going on for the last couple of years. That's just to name a few of the investments that have been going on.
These changes and investments have led to increased complexity in the management of budgets and have increased the need to enhance our financial analysis and planning. This means there's an expanded role for the financial planning and resource management team, including addressing the challenging administrative funding requests; working with partners to ensure that all business cases and related financial requirements are accurate and thoroughly documented; and providing accurate and timely financial information and analysis to allow senior management to make the appropriate decisions around the budgets, reallocation and use of the internal resources. This is also the team that's been developing the new reports that we've been bringing here to the board, which are then made public on the website. Sustaining this increased capacity is required to maintain the initial workload associated with the new reporting requirements and the strengthening of our financial advisory services.
The funding request here is for four FTEs, for a total amount of $518,000. Also, the establishment of the constituency office lease services has allowed the administration to better support members in the management of office leases. The board approved a policy change where constituency office leases would be assigned to the administration if a member was not seeking to be re-elected or was not re-elected. Taking effect with the 2019 general election, the new assignment clause allows assets to remain in offices and newly elected members to occupy those offices as soon as the former member vacates those premises.
To address operational needs, a team with the appropriate knowledge and skill sets was created to develop the tools and processes to manage this new responsibility. Following the lessons learned in previous and past elections, this three-person team now actively provides the members and the House administration with the various tools, guidance and support needed for constituency office tenancy.
In addition to supporting members in quickly becoming operational in their constituency offices, this team has also achieved savings through facilitating the transition after an election and the ongoing relationships between members and their landlords. Given the success in assisting members in managing their complex commercial leases, we are seeking approval to retain this team and asking for the annual cost of $273,000 to fund these three FTEs.
The next piece is the increased resources needed to respond to the coming into force of Bill C-65, the act that amended the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act. The act extends the health and safety obligations under part II of the Canada Labour Code to parliamentary entities, including the House administration and members as employers. This program requires the development and maintenance of policies and programs to ensure that both members and House administration meet their legal obligations under the code and that members are helped to meet their obligations as employers.
Resources are also needed to support the 17 different corporate prevention and compliance programs related to this initiative. These resources will contribute to the safety and well-being of House administration and member employees, the development of resources and tools for members, and the cost savings that could be incurred in relation to work injuries. To accomplish this, we are seeking the permanent funding for the 4 FTEs at a total annual cost of $318,000.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
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