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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
This is not the case for me.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
On our side, it is more when we talk. I just wanted to share this information with you.
I give the floor back to Mr. Gagnon.
André Gagnon
View André Gagnon Profile
André Gagnon
2021-02-25 11:27
I am sorry for all this.
I was, I believe, on the issue of protocols issued to the parties to manage requests arising from extensions, extensions of [Technical difficulty].
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Gagnon, we can't hear you at all because of technical problems.
We will therefore give the floor to Mr. Patrice, who is here.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-02-25 11:27
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I am not going to presume to know what Mr. Gagnon was going to talk about. He can continue along the same lines later on.
Indeed, the question of resources is of great concern to us in the administration. We are in further discussions with our partners to try to assess and determine the extent to which we could add slots for committee activities, particularly when the House is sitting. As you are aware, committee resources and activities have increased significantly, particularly since November.
According to the figures and statistics, which I will be happy to provide to the board members, the rate of time slot usage is much higher than in previous years. The House Administration and its partners are doing their utmost to meet the needs of members and provide them with the time slots they require.
As for the weeks when the House is not sitting, I want to report, with respect to resource issues,
the unfortunate incident at the Friday meeting when there was only one committee meeting, when we could and should have supported that committee. It was a miscommunication that occurred. We own that mistake. The protocol will no doubt avoid a situation like that recurring.
In the non-sitting weeks, there's definitely more availability of sitting time, whether it's for committees or associations, because the utilization rate of those weeks is not as high as during sitting weeks.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or comments?
Are we ready to move on to the next step or the next item?
I see that we are.
We'll go on to item number four, which is the extension of certain temporary COVID-19 measures to the fiscal year 2021-22.
We'll go to Monsieur Paquette, chief financial officer.
Monsieur Paquette.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:30
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
This presentation follows up on the analysis with respect to temporary measures in effect due to COVID-19 that was presented to the board last December. At that meeting, the House administration advised the board that we would continue to monitor the use of those various policies, the expenses that members were incurring and how they were to evolve. We would then return here to the board for any recommendations, if any were needed.
I must note that these temporary measures are all set to expire on March 31, 2021.
We have observed that the use of these temporary measures has continued since the last analysis I presented to you in December. Despite the pandemic, members of Parliament continue to provide services to their fellow citizens. As a result of our consultations, we understand the need to maintain these measures for an extended period of time.
The House administration recommends that the board, as part of the measures taken to address and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, approve extending the temporary measures through March 31, 2022. These temporary measures include the purchase of consumable items to ensure that COVID-19 preventive measures are in place in constituency offices, and an increase to the advertising limit to communicate with constituents.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes my presentation. I'm open to any questions the members may have.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do we have any questions or comments?
Mr. Julian and then Mr. Richards.
View Peter Julian Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank Mr. Paquette and the House administration.
I certainly support the extension of these measures. In our case, in downtown New Westminster where my constituency office is, those measures have allowed us to put up plexiglass panels to protect our employees. We're in a very high-traffic area in the downtown area. Even though our office is largely functioning virtually, when constituents do need to come in, my staff are protected.
I think that these measures have been sensible, and they've been effective, allowing members of Parliament to make the important adjustments that come with this pandemic.
The new variants of COVID-19 are worrisome, as we all know, and many people are predicting a third wave coming this spring. It makes sense, then, I believe, for us to extend the measures so that members of Parliament and their employees can be protected and can continue to serve their constituents in a way that protects everybody.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good.
Mr. Richards.
View Blake Richards Profile
I agree. There's been some usage or take-up of these measures. I would certainly agree with extending them.
I guess where I would have an issue is this. We're talking about an extension to March 31, 2022, and we're hearing from the government that by the end of September we will have all Canadians vaccinated who want to be vaccinated. One would assume, then, that at that point we'd be able to make some kind of a shift in terms of Parliament's moving back towards more normal sitting scenarios, or certainly something closer to that. Obviously, some of these measures, then, would no longer be needed as well.
If the government does fail to meet that target, we can always look at extending it beyond September—that is, if the government isn't able to live up to the promise it's made. If it does, then we should be able to see some change in these things in September.
Perhaps what we should do right now is to set the renewal date as September, and we can always look at it again, if needed, in September.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I now give the floor to Mrs. DeBellefeuille. Mr. Deltell and Mr. LeBlanc will follow.
You have the floor, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I do not agree with what my Conservative colleague just said. In fact, I rather agree with the proposal before us that it be extended until March 31, 2022, that is, the end of the fiscal year.
It is important for members to be in a position, as of April 1, to set their budget, to include the amounts in their budget planning. I think it makes sense to allow the extension until March 31, 2022. I would find it strange if we told members to be careful with their budget because the measures are in effect until September 30. Some of the measures relate to advertising costs and may be part of community support planning. As we know, the pandemic does not affect all provinces the same way.
I think the proposal to extend is logical in light of what we have experienced this year. According to the statistics and the results, the cost won't be higher for the House Administration if we save on certain budget items to be able to finance these measures.
Personally, this makes sense to me and is respectful of the members who want to plan their budget for next year. I think it makes sense that decisions of a parliamentary nature should be in effect at the end of September.
I second Mr. Julian, who also agrees with the proposal. In addition, I encourage the members of the Board of Internal Economy to join us.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We will now go to Mr. Deltell, followed by Mr. LeBlanc and Mrs. Petitpas Taylor.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I think it's also important to understand that—and we've all done this in our ridings—most of the significant spending on internal infrastructure has already been committed, which is normal, by the way. All of us may have some adjustments to make, but a lot of the spending has been done. I think being able to adjust that for September is very consistent, as well, with what we decide in the House. Our measures are in place until September because we operate on a semi-annual basis. Normally, we adjust our spending very well when we see that the need is still there.
I believe that we do not deprive ourselves of anything. It's worth considering this option, given that we've already spent a significant part of our budgets in this regard and that we're also consistent with our work in the House six months at a time. If, by any chance, we find in September that people who have not been vaccinated want to be vaccinated and the third wave of the virus hits hard—no one is safe—we can reverse the decision and extend these measures without any difficulty.
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