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Results: 1 - 62 of 62
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I fully agree with sharing this data. We have indeed put in place some arrangements that have greatly improved the situation. There is still work to be done, of course, but I think it is important that this information is passed on to the chairs of the committees and the Liaison Committee. Indeed, this information is important.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is worthwhile, I believe, for these issues to be considered and recommendations to be made within the Board of Internal Economy. The climate crisis affects everyone. So far, I think we have not addressed the way in which members travel. This travel will likely start again later this year, once the third wave has passed.
It would be a question of determining how we can improve our policies on these issues. I think it would be important to do that analysis and to discuss it in the next few weeks or months.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I believe that doing an analysis and gathering more information is not making a decision. It is a search for information. I think that is normal in this case.
All our decisions are taken by consensus. I fully agree with this. It is up to the administration to seek more information. I personally would like to have more information on this.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Since we want to discuss a lot of topics today, I will start immediately.
First, I want to mention that I am very pleased with the progress we have made and especially with the fact that we have more and more equipment that reduces the injury rate of interpreters. Interpreters do a lot of hard work and reducing the number of injuries helps them tremendously.
Second, I would like to ask Mr. Aubé a question. While we are pleased with the progress, there are still some problems. What will it take for us to reduce the incidents affecting our interpreters to zero?
I have experience working in factories where you go days, weeks or months without an injury. It's part of the workers' health and safety program.
What do we need to do to reduce to zero the incidents that cause problems and injuries to our interpreters, who are doing an outstanding job?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I have said this before at the Board of Internal Economy. I believe firmly that we have to put our partisan hats aside at the Board of Internal Economy. I certainly prefer that we not have these kinds of debates. I don't think they are appropriate for the board where it is strictly non-partisan and where we put aside whatever party, whether we represent the government or the opposition. This is not the place nor the role for the BOIE. I feel uncomfortable with a couple of the comments that have come up so far today.
I just wanted to raise that.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to ask any questions, but I do want to make a comment.
I would like to say that I support the recommendations that have been provided. I think it is extremely important to have a reasonable transition period. We know full well how difficult it is to go through an election period and then to not have the resources for everyone, the outgoing employees and the members, for the ensuing transition. That is a problem. So I think this approach makes sense because it improves that transition.
I would also say, Mr. Chair, that I think a more appropriate transition is also good for Canadians. We have a situation where MPs come out of an election campaign. If we're talking about a defeated member of Parliament, it's important that there be some transition with the new member of Parliament, even if they are from a different party.
Putting in place these measures, I think, just makes sense for their constituents as well. We need to have a little more of a framework and support and order around the transition that comes out of the chaos of an election campaign, so I fully support these measures.
Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I agree with Mrs. DeBellefeuille and Mr. Richards. It is problematic.
Our country advocates the equality of the two official languages. This means that in committees and in Parliament, we must have access to interpretation services at all times. Interpreters are extremely dedicated and they work hard. However, there is a significant lack of resources, which has already been recognized, but is now critical.
Unfortunately, in all likelihood, there will be a third wave of the pandemic. This means that resources will have to be in place for parliamentarians to continue their work in virtual mode.
The issue that has just been raised is crucial. It is important that we respond by putting the necessary resources in place to ensure that employees are treated well and that their health and safety are not jeopardized.
In addition, committee members must be able to meet while having the resources to work.
For all these reasons, I stress the importance of responding to this urgent need, as my colleagues have done.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
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 Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to thank Mrs. DeBellefeuille for proposing this compromise.
Health specialists are saying very clearly that we probably won't be out of the woods for another year. So I don't think that vaccination dates should be part of our decisions today.
We should decide to put all possible measures in place to protect the public and our employees and to continue our work as parliamentarians. It is for this reason that I fully support the recommendations of Mr. Paquette and the House Administration. However, as Mrs. DeBellefeuille said, I understand that we are an entity that advocates unanimity and consensus, so I am prepared to support her proposal.
I am not ready to say that we will be out of the woods in September. I hope so, but I don't think so. If we rely on projections, especially if we take into account the new variants of the virus, we may unfortunately have to wait at least a year before we can say that we are out of this pandemic.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My question is on the same subject.
If the letter has not been forwarded to all committee members, it's important that it be sent to them right away. We must ensure that Parliament works well in both official languages and that high-quality interpretation services are available to everyone. I am a little concerned to find that some committees have not yet discussed it.
It is really important that the letter besent to all members so that steps can be taken to ensure that the two official languages are on equal footing during virtual sittings of the House and the committees.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
There are some laudable suggestions in the document. My own experience, anecdotally, with the external suppliers, the local suppliers, was that what made the difference, and why we were able to get things out more quickly—during a pandemic, of course, it's vital to get information in the hands of my constituents—was the mailing delay that came from Ottawa.
We have very talented staff in Ottawa, they do a terrific job in the printing centre, but often, it's a two-week delay getting it from Ottawa to New Westminster—Burnaby. For the external suppliers, in our case, even though it's correct to point out that they may not be as efficient and may not understand the Canada Post preparation as well as staff in Ottawa, the reality is that, once it's actually dropped at the post office, it's a one- or two-day delay, as opposed to a one- or two-week delay.
That needs to be taken into consideration. We have a vast geography, and the mailing times add complexity to mailings that are particularly tied to specific events. It makes a difference to be able to use local suppliers for certain types of mailings.
I agree with enhancing the printing team in Ottawa. There's absolutely no doubt that would mean that things could be produced more quickly for our constituents, but I also believe local suppliers definitely have a place. In the case of a British Columbia MP, it means that the overall length of time is quicker, even if it takes twice as long to produce the printing, because it takes 10% of the time to actually do the mailing and get it into the riding.
I wanted to give you that feedback, because that needs to be taken into consideration as well when we're looking at the overall proposal that comes to the BOIE.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Janse.
This information is very useful and very important to us, given our current concerns about the decline of French in Canada. Over the past few weeks, we've initiated some parliamentary debates on this topic and have adopted several motions.
I was interested to learn that over one-third of witnesses can speak French. The problem is not so much the number of francophone and francophile witnesses, but rather the infrastructure shortcomings.
At meetings of the Standing Committee on Finance, I saw interpretation problems several times, as a result of which people who were speaking French felt obliged to switch to English.
I believe the figures would back me up on this. People don't feel comfortable speaking French if the equipment is unsatisfactory and the interpreters can't do their work. As a result, they tend to switch to English, which is something that really should be avoided. The recommendations being made here should be forwarded to all the committees. Furthermore, it's important to firmly support the idea that the technology needs to be perfect so that witnesses can speak French in the knowledge that they'll be able to count on the excellent House interpretation services.
These statistics are very important, and I'd like to thank you for passing this information on to us. I think everyone around this table would be in favour of immediately and forcefully implementing the recommendations that were made.
For me, it would be a dream come true.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
I know there's a tremendous amount of work involved, in addition to all the other hats you wear, so our thanks to you and to the team of members of Parliament working with staff on this difficult issue.
I have a number of questions, so I'll just lay them all out. I think that is easiest.
First off, in terms of the centre light court infill, you haven't mentioned what the possible use would be for that shared space. It would be helpful to have a few more details on that proposal.
On the infill courts, the west light court and the light-well, those seem to me to be no-brainers. Having had an office a number of times on that west court, I know the amount of wasted energy that is required to heat the four walls of the courtyard rather than just covering it over and using that space far more effectively. On the light-well, it never made sense to me why that was blocked in the first place. Again, there's an energy loss there, so bravo for looking at that.
My concern about the galleries, quite frankly, is that we are cutting basically in half the participation of people who are able to come directly into the House of Commons and see parliamentarians at work. As someone who comes from the far west of Canada—5,000 kilometres away—I know that when any of my constituents make their way across Canada, they want to have the full experience of our democracy, and often, they want to be able to participate in the House of Commons. That hasn't been a problem generally, but if we're cutting the number of seats in half, I think that would be. I would raise concerns about that.
Yes, absolutely we need to have the ability for people with reduced mobility and people with disabilities to be able to participate fully. There are designated spaces that could achieve that, but I'm very concerned about the cuts in the number of people who can actively participate. Could you perhaps explain a little bit more? You mentioned a scaling-up on occasion. That may happen more often than not. Particularly when we open the new building, we'll have people coming from across the country to see it. We certainly saw that with the Library of Parliament, so if you could go a little bit more into that, I would appreciate it.
I gather that a dedicated internal vertical circulation is Ottawa-speak for stairs or an elevator, and I'm wondering in terms of the lobby what that actually means. It would seem to me that given the narrowness of the lobby space, what we are actually doing is having the lobbies one floor down, and how that access up and down is achieved is important.
My final question is the most important one. What are the cost differentials in doing this? I assume from the west light court and the light-well that the energy savings will probably be far beyond the renovation costs. For some of the other things, it would be helpful for us to know at least in a ballpark way what the differential is between what would be a scaled-down version and what could be proposed. As we're going through a pandemic, most Canadians want to make sure every dollar spent is spent effectively.
Nobody wants to see a deterioration of the Centre Block. Quite the contrary, they want to see a renovation, but they don't want to see frills. We have to be very conscious of that to make sure that every dollar spent is effective.
Those are my questions. Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
I honestly find it disturbing that the main estimates show an increase of approximately 5% over last year. The inflation rate is around 1%. In the presentation you just made—and I thank you very much for it, Mr. Paquette—you say that salaries rose, which is normal, but also that expenses for computers, security and administration also increased. You also discussed the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had during the past year and that it will also have over the next fiscal year.
Mr. Paquette, I'm going to ask you two questions. First, can you tell us, in general terms, about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential repercussions for next year's main estimates?
Second, do you anticipate that the main estimates won't be as high? I think people expect that overall budgets won't increase significantly during the pandemic and that they'll be reasonable. If the main estimates rise considerably relative to last year, but the supplementary estimates are much lower next year, we'll approach a balanced budget. However, it will be more disturbing if there are just as many increases in the supplementary estimates.
Thank you for all the details included in these estimates.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I agree with Mr. Holland on this. We have some extremely important decisions to get to. I've found the staff are very good at providing answers on the financial records.
There are also questions that really are a matter for House leaders and whips to discuss in another forum. We need to focus on the work that we need to do as a board of internal economy. For example, today I can't go past one o'clock and we're not going to get to the end of the agenda, which means we'll have to meet again next week. We're meeting now on a weekly basis.
Mr. Holland's comments are very valid. We have to be concise and focused. We have to do the work we have and ask the important questions, but there are many ways of asking those questions beforehand and also of making sure that the issues that are a part of another domain, like House leaders and the whips' meetings, are kept there.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I'd like to know the date when we'll receive the report.
We'll of course have to mail out other householders early next year. Since we're still in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing whether our offices can do business with local printers could make a difference.
If we don't receive the report within a few months, we'll lose that opportunity to mail householders to our fellow citizens.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I fully agree with Ms. DeBellefeuille's comments.
On some of the committees I sit on, when there is an interpretation problem, the committee's work simply comes to a halt. This is what should be happening for all committees and witnesses. Our technical capabilities should definitely enable us to handle both official languages. The practice needs to be introduced just about everywhere to ensure that both official languages are always respected.
Even though I have never experienced this situation myself, I know that when there were problems at some committees, the chair just carried on. In some instances, not all arrangements were in place to ensure that both English and French could be treated equally. I think something could be done, including in our respective caucuses.
Yesterday evening, there was a four-hour debate in the House of Commons. It was about the use of French in Montreal and concerns about the issue from all the parties. The concern expressed was unanimous. Throughout the entire evening, everyone spoke only in French, making it a francophone evening in the House of Commons. It's ironic that we should find ourselves here this morning facing the same problems, which are occurring within the House of Commons' own institutions.
It therefore needs to be taken seriously. I believe that the suggestions Ms. DeBellefeuille just made could steer us in the right direction.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I cannot go past 1 p.m., but this may be a very quick item.
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.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
There will be additional funding in the coming year or two, on Centre Block and Sparks Street, potentially.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I have no questions. For last year, it's very clear. For this year, I don't think we had any activities. Our activities on Parliament Hill were suspended as of March 13.
I just want to know where there are any expenditures by parliamentary associations for this financial year, and to what an extent our costs were reduced.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I raised my hand, and then I used the “raise hand” function. We're still dealing with the new virtual environment, which is really my question.
I think it's reassuring that you didn't find any deficiencies in the audit, and no adjustments. What I'm interested in hearing a little bit more about is how you were able to achieve a full audit in a virtual, secure environment. Of course, the information needed to be secure. This is quite a different environment for this kind of audit procedure. I think it would be interesting to have a brief summary, I guess, of some of the measures that needed to be taken to perform an audit in this kind of environment.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Stanton, thank you very much for the report.
Of course, I'm in favour of designating the chair of the working group to sit on the jury.
The coronavirus has had an impact on a lot of projects across the country, so I'm wondering if there are any updated figures that you could give us or if you can let us know when you think the working group would be able to do that.
Thank you.
My question is very simple: Are there any updated budget figures around the overall projects?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
When do you think you will be able to bring that to the BOIE?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This presentation matters. The number of francophones around the world is rising dramatically, so it's vital that we maintain these ties with countries that have the use of French in common. Not to mention, ours is a bilingual country, with an English-speaking population. I know a conference will be held next year for Commonwealth countries.
I have two questions. Are the budgets for the two conferences similar? For that conference, the budget is $1.3 million. In both cases, what happens if COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc come conference time? Should the conferences have to be cancelled, what would the financial repercussions be in each case?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, but that does not quite answer my question. Let's assume that, in both cases, we have to cancel six months in advance. Will the financial consequences be to the tune of $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 or $1 million? Do we have a rough idea of the costs even if we were to cancel six months in advance?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Paquette. I would just like to compare apples to apples.
There are additional expenditures of $3.1 million on September 17, but we see that some of the spending was reduced because of COVID-19. Yet, this continues in the financial statement of June 30. If we compare the money saved up until September 17 with the additional costs, what is the impact of COVID-19 on parliamentary operations?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to know how many employees on Parliament Hill have been dismissed or laid off since the start of the pandemic.
How many regular full-time employees have we lost? How many aren't working because of COVID-19?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Could you provide the figures at the next meeting?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your presentation today. Having been part of the first iteration of the Centre Block working group, I appreciate all the time and effort that I know members of the working group are putting in.
I have a comment and then a couple of questions.
My comment is that I certainly appreciate that we're not going for what many of us considered to be the Cadillac option in terms of building the visitor welcome centre. The larger option was much more expensive. We're talking about over $110 million in savings, if my memory is correct, and I think that's very appropriate.
Mr. Stanton, perhaps you or one of the dedicated public servants here could explain what that means in terms of cutting back those requests that came forward. There were a lot of requests, as part of that larger option, around committee rooms for the Senate, which quite frankly didn't seem necessary. For the people who are watching today from the press gallery and from the public, it would be good to know, I think, what we're paring away.
Second, I don't see a recommendation around the House of Commons chamber itself. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you think the decision-making point is and will be around the House of Commons chamber?
Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
These financial statements are a bit like the economic update that would have been provided just before the pandemic hit. We're talking about March 31. On March 13, the decision was made to suspend parliamentary activities. I find this interesting. I don't have any issue with the financial statements. This seems very clear, including the significant decreases in committee expenses and parliamentary exchanges.
When I look at the largest and much smaller expenditures, I think that it would be worthwhile to hear how you think things will unfold this year. Since I'm in New Westminster and the other members are also at home, it seems that travel expenses are much smaller. There are no parliamentary exchanges either. The committees are meeting virtually. Does this raise or lower costs? I imagine that this lowers costs. In addition, many House administration employees are teleworking.
In your opinion, which expenditures will increase as a result of the pandemic and which expenditures will decrease significantly because of all the decisions made in the context of the pandemic?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I agree with Mr. Strahl.
In terms of the printing in the riding, normally, since we are on the other side of the Rockies, 5,000 kilometres away from Ottawa, printed material that goes out takes weeks to arrive in B.C. With local printing, it landed on the steps of people's homes in New Westminster—Burnaby five days after being printed. That's five days compared to often a month. I'd be very interested in seeing that report as well, because there is no doubt, for those of us who are far away from Ottawa, that it makes a huge difference in terms of our constituents actually getting timely information, and around COVID-19 that was extremely important.
I certainly agree with renewing this, and I would even suggest extending it in terms of printing. My concern is that we're putting these on MOBs. Again, for example, the cost of Internet access isn't the same in ridings across the country. In an urban riding like mine, it will cost a lot less than it might in a rural or northern riding. It seems to me, for fairness, so that all members of Parliament are treated the same way, that it would make a lot more sense to have those costs go onto the central budget than to have them assumed by members of Parliament, meaning that members of Parliament in certain parts of the country will have to pay more out of their MOB, which means they will have fewer resources to actually serve their constituents.
I'd like to put that out for the appreciation of the board. We'll also get a sense of whether the administration would have any opposition to having those Internet costs absorbed centrally.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Did the member contact the House administration before making the purchase? I don't mean through a formal letter, but did they make any sort of inquiry? It's clearly an unusual request.
My constituency office has an outdoor space. Would I be allowed to buy patio furniture? It's clear from looking at the file that there weren't any formal inquiries, but did someone from the member's office or the member, himself, reach out to finance services about it?
Once I know that, I'll comment further.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
All right. Thank you.
This is a member with considerable experience, not just at the federal level. I think reimbursing a member for the purchase of patio furniture would set the wrong precedent. Had the member made some sort of attempt to contact the House administration, or had there been some ambiguity as to whether the expense was eligible, I'd be more inclined to consider the member's request.
The Board of Internal Economy should advise all members, especially new ones, that if they want to make an unusual purchase, they need to submit a formal request beforehand to make sure it's an eligible expense.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to be sure I understand. Is the House administration recommending that we not allow the expense to come out of the member's office budget?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I agree with my colleagues Mr. Strahl, Ms. Bergen and Ms. DeBellefeuille. When I look at all the forms that will be available online, I see the level of detail for partners and children. It talks about the exact location where the trips were made. Members can go to the Speaker and ask that this information not be made available to the general public. I understand the reasons one might have for doing that, but it seems to me that it also creates a certain imbalance. As Mr. Strahl said, we do not have time to go into this in depth today, but it seems to me that we need to take a closer look at the rules on how the Speaker could withhold information on the basis of privilege.
I understand there's some concern. I also understand the law we passed. It seems to me that we need a clearer framework to define how a member of Parliament could get out of this obligation. Members of Parliament may have very good reasons for doing so. As we know, some of their constituents may be engaged in some really unhealthy activities. Having access to all of this information about MPs' travel can be a cause for concern. I understand that.
At the next meeting of the Board of Internal Economy, could we determine in what situations this information could be withheld on the basis of privilege?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I don't think there's any contradiction. I agree with Ms. DeBellefeuille in principle, as I think everyone does. It's more a question of how this regulation can be applied. We will have to look into all these issues and, above all, provide recommendations to the Speaker on the kind of situation in which he could exercise this right. It could be in cases where threats have been made to a spouse or where children are targeted in some way, for example.
There are certainly exceptions to this principle. I do not think anybody is against it, but it is a power given to the Speaker, who is elected by members, and it will exist in the next Parliament; it is the duty of the Board of Internal Economy to determine under what circumstances it can apply. We are here precisely to provide a framework for these regulations. In my opinion, it is not clear in what kind of situation a member of Parliament could ask that this be applied, but I know exactly the kind of situation where this information should absolutely not be disclosed. My opinion will probably be different from that of the other members of the Board of Internal Economy.
So, I think it would be worthwhile to come back to this in the next session to discuss how best to frame these exceptions.
Again, I agree in principle. Personally, my son is an adult, so I have no concerns about that. I do not feel personally concerned, but I understand that other members may feel concerned or vulnerable with respect to this information. It would be good for us to have a discussion about the principles and how to apply the exceptions to privilege. That way we would all be on the same page.
I remind the House that when the Speaker of the House makes a ruling, it is part of the jurisprudence. Each Speaker refers to the decisions of his or her predecessors. For that reason, I think it would be a good idea to follow up on the discussions we have had today.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I completely agree with Ms. DeBellefeuille. It is important that we have simultaneous interpretation in the executive committee meetings. I myself have noticed that, during meetings of the Standing Committee on Finance, this has not been the case for several weeks. I am therefore pleased that Ms. DeBellefeuille has raised this issue. It was important. It's easy to resolve, and it's fundamental to the functioning of Parliament.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I feel that the text reflects our discussion quite well.
However, I would actually write that the government will have three members, the official opposition two members, and the third and fourth parties one member each. This would ensure that the subcommittee's work can continue if we have an election, whether scheduled or not.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I am suggesting replacing the reference to the Liberal Party by “government” and the reference to the Conservative Party by “official opposition”, and so on.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
[Inaudible—Editor]
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I looked carefully at the entire document. I want to thank you for providing all this information. However, I don't see the budget figures. Is it because Public Works and Government Services Canada didn't provide approximate amounts for each option?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you for that.
There's no doubt that this is important to Canadians; it's the centre of Canadian democracy. At the same time, among those at this table, I represent the riding that's farthest away from Ottawa and most of my constituents will never come to Ottawa. They'll never see the House of Commons and Parliament Hill.
It's about making sure that we do justice to the Centre Block and to the importance of Parliament, but I would certainly disagree with any Cadillac approach where we're putting excessive funds into the building. I think, coming back to the comments that Ms. Bergen and Mr. Holland mentioned—I would agree with both of them—that we need to establish those principles as a starting point so that going into this, we know that we can provide direction. Perhaps, since we don't have the figures in front of us, it's very difficult to even imagine the scope of the project right now, but putting those principles into place can make a real difference.
As Mr. Holland mentioned, moving forward quickly is important because there's also a cost element to not making those decisions. I was part of the building committee that met prior to the election. We basically went with the stripped-down option, but that allowed for some flexibility about decisions post-election. The longer we delay the decisions, the more costs there are for the taxpayers. It's about finding that balance, moving forward immediately with the principles—I agree with Mr. Holland on that—and meeting in a couple of weeks.
I also agree with Mr. Holland on his real reservations about having a joint process with the Senate. We're the elected members. We're the ones who will have to justify decisions back to our voters, perhaps in a few months, perhaps in a few years, so I think, because of that, that there is a principle to our hearing from them but also providing the leadership on that. Moving forward quickly will be important. We'll move forward with principles so we can get this right and in a way that is reasonable to people across the country, including in New Westminster—Burnaby. People will say that we got it right on the House of Commons and Parliament Hill. It's a good building, and we didn't spend excessively to preserve the heritage and the symbolism that is the Parliament building.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much. This is an important and interesting discussion.
Coming back to Mr. Holland's original comments about being concerned about a joint Senate process, I think it's fair to say that we would all agree that there needs to be consultation with the Senate, but ultimately, the issues around some of the proposals, including the additional Senate meeting rooms, is something that I think we do need to examine as we go through this process and set principles that Ms. Bergen suggested earlier.
Ultimately, if we come up with recommendations, it's up to the government to make that decision and make that call. If the Senate comes up with different recommendations, again it's up to the government to make that call. Hearing from you—and thank you very much for your feedback—consolidated in my mind the idea that we move forward not with a joint process, but in consultation with the Senate and putting forward what we think is best for preserving the Centre Block, ensuring that we can function in a modernized Centre Block but without going into additional luxuries, I would say, that taxpayers are not willing to pay for and that really aren't needed.
If we govern with those principles that way and move forward, consulting with the Senate but not necessarily integrating all of the requests, we may end up with two slightly different proposals. Ultimately, it would be up to the government to make that decision.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Paquette, thank you for your presentation.
Compared to last year, computers, office equipment, furniture and fixtures have almost doubled.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to know whether there's anything pending. I know that we're in the process of upgrading the computers. Will there be an increase next year as well?
My other question concerns a snap election. I don't want this to happen, but we never know. If it were to happen in the next few months, what would be the financial impact?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Amazingly convincing; we have nothing to say.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes. I want to be on the list.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I'm glad to hear that. I thought the email was not good, but the member's response was very quick in notifying the clerk, in withdrawing the email and also in submitting the cheque. Unless other members have comments, I have no further comments.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I support this additional funding, which is around $96,000. The most striking argument that prompts me to support this request is that employees worked almost 3,000 hours of overtime, but only managed to get 200 hours of annual leave. That means there's a problem. People are increasingly required to work overtime. We can see here that they were unable to take their annual leave. As a result, more and more sick leave hours are being used.
We manage financial resources here, sure, but we also manage human resources. It seems there is a work overload here. The responsible thing for us to do is add a few more human resources to balance things out a little more in this area.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I have only one question. I'd like to know whether we should adopt item five today.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay.
Especially in the context of a minority Parliament, getting the legislation right is of primary importance. We've seen the cost of getting legislation wrong and of court challenges that ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars, so I do support this particular expenditure because of that.
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