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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-05-13 12:56
I can take that question.
Looking at the trends over the last few years—obviously the last fiscal year and the previous one are not necessarily typical years—what we normally see as a trend is that about 25% of the members spend more than 95% of their budget. I don't necessarily have the $10,000 mark, but if you take 95% of their budget, they're spending less than $18,000 of the top of their budget. That's about a quarter of the members. The rest would still have some flexibility.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:12
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With this submission, I am seeking the board's directions about the request made by a member for temporary exceptions to the board's bylaws and policies. The member is requesting that you temporarily allow for reimbursement of members' accommodations, meals and incidental expenses for voluntary self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically when travelling between the national capital region and the constituency.
Existing board regulations and policies do not generally allow for members to be reimbursed for the costs they incur in quarantining themselves near their homes. Guidelines issued by provincial and territorial public health authorities generally indicate that alternative accommodation is not necessary. However, guidelines can vary considerably from one province or territory to another and tend to change very quickly. For this reason, we are consulting with you to determine if a temporary exception would be appropriate during this exceptional period.
This concludes my presentation. We can answer questions from members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am making a submission to obtain direction from the board on a request that has been submitted by three members of Parliament regarding the reimbursement of voluntary carbon offset credits.
Last month, the board received a letter stating that the new regulations of the Assemblée nationale du Québec allowed for the reimbursement of carbon offset credits purchased for travel between the constituency and the Assemblée nationale as well as for the energy consumption of their premises related to constituency office activities.
In their letter, the members ask the board to consider adopting similar practices for members of the House of Commons.
Under the current board bylaws and policies, members and their authorized travellers may only use travel resources provided to them in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions. Although travel is necessary to carry out these functions, the purchase of carbon offset continues to be a voluntary measure that is not imposed by any legislation or regulation and is considered to be a traveller's personal choice.
Also, current bylaws and policies do not allow members to use goods and services provided by the House to donate to any cause or benefit, or support a third party. In 2015, the board considered a similar request at which time it determined that the purchase of carbon offsets for travel did not constitute an auditable use of House resources and would be deemed a donation. The House administration has been applying this decision since then.
Following this recent request, we are seeking the board's direction on this matter. Should the board direct the administration to consider the reimbursement of voluntary carbon emission offsets purchased by the members, then the administration would perform the needed analysis and consultation and come back to the board with the appropriate recommendation to be able to do so.
This concludes my presentation. We are ready to answer questions from members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-03-25 11:49
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am here today to seek the Board of Internal Economy's approval to update and harmonize certain policies in the Members' Allowances and Services Manual and the Members By-law in relation to the dissolution and the post-election or transition period.
Following the last general election and in light of the challenges raised by members of Parliament and House officers, as well as issues raised by others and heard during consultations, the administration noted opportunities to update certain Board policies. I will provide an overview of some of the recommendations that are in the submission.
To begin with, the current post-election travel policy does not allow eligible employees of members of Parliament to travel between the constituency and Ottawa following a general election to assist the members of Parliament in closing their files and vacating their offices. In order to properly support members of Parliament, we recommend that eligible incumbent employees be provided with the same post-election travel allowances as outgoing members between the constituency and Ottawa.
Next are two closely related items pertaining to access to the parliamentary precinct network and the purchase of cellphones. Under current policy, members who are not seeking re-election have access to the parliamentary precinct until the day before the general election, and members who are not re-elected have access to the network for 21 days after the election.
These former members must also return their telecommunication equipment such as their cellphones. The current time frames do not allow enough time for former members to complete the administrative tasks and to settle the accounts with the House.
Extending the duration of access to the network would better serve members in settling their accounts. The administration here is recommending that external access to the parliamentary precinct network be increased to 90 days following the election for members who are not seeking re-election or who are not re-elected. They would retain one House-managed portable device during that period to facilitate the process. This would also align with the period that members have to settle their financial accounts.
As for cellphones, former members have expressed an interest in purchasing their devices to help ensure a certain continuity at a time when they are experiencing many changes. It is our proposal that, following an election, these members be allowed to purchase their cellphones for personal use at a fair market value.
Other recommendations relate to the mandatory clauses in constituency office leases. This proposal builds on revised assignment clauses approved by the board in 2015 where the leases of former members are assigned to the House for the 120 day period following an election. The administration noticed opportunities for further improvements, which would help facilitate a smooth transition between former and newly elected members. These revised clauses would be included in new constituency office leases or the extension of existing leases after the next general election.
Also, with respect to transition support, the administration is recommending adjustments to better align the policies and by-laws in order to ensure that former members can effectively use these various transition supports.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation. We are here to answer any questions that board members may have.
Daniel Paquette
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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.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:40
I'll transfer that to our CHRO. She's the one responsible for the health and safety programs.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:47
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am going to present the quarterly financial report for the third quarter of 2020-2021.
Quarterly financial reports compare year-to-date financial information for the current fiscal year to the same quarter the previous year. As with the first quarter and second quarter reports presented earlier this year, we are once again comparing two atypical years.
This year, the pandemic is affecting our spending trends, while the previous year was marked by a general election. As a result, our comparisons will be influenced by the atypical spending patterns that you may have already noted in our reports.
Let us now turn to the report. As of December 31, the approved authorities for fiscal year 2020-2021 were $539 million. There have been no changes to our approved authorities since my second quarterly report to you in December.
Expenses to December 31 totalled $344.2 million, a decrease of $6.2 million, or 1.8%, from the previous year.
The most significant decreases in expenditures relate to the continuing decrease in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Decreases have also been seen in the areas of training and hospitality across the whole organization, as well as the reduction of temporary help services for members and House officers—also all as a result of COVID-19.
The temporary closure of some of the food services facilities and the printing facilities earlier in the year has led to reduced costs for materials and supplies, which have been partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as face masks and hand sanitizers that are used across the House of Commons.
Expenditures for computers, office equipment, furniture and fixtures have also decreased, primarily due to changes in the timing of some of our life-cycle activities. This decrease was partially offset by costs incurred for purchases to support virtual House proceedings and committees, and costs incurred for equipment that enabled House administration employees to work remotely during this COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for salaries and benefits have increased, mainly due to additional spending on members' employee salaries and the cost of living increases for members and House administration staff. These increases have been partially offset by the reduction in the number of employees for members and House officers, delays in some of the staffing and a reduction in part-time costs and overtime as a result of the pandemic.
Finally, the report does provide a comparison of the utilization of our authorities, which shows a decrease of 3.4%, which is not unexpected given the current situation. Also, given this current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering any potential savings, as well as any financial impact that may have on our funding decisions due to this truly exceptional year.
Mr. Speaker, that concludes my presentation.
I am ready to answer questions from members of the committee.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:31
Thank you Mr. Chair.
I'm here to present the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for approval by the Board of Internal Economy. The estimates summarize the funding for items already approved by the board. There will accordingly not be any new funding requests during this presentation.
The proposed main estimates for 2021-22 total $543.7 million, an increase of 5.3% over the main estimates for the previous year.
In compliance with the Parliament of Canada Act, the House must prepare an estimate of the sums that will be required to pay the expenditures for the fiscal year to come and shall transmit the estimate to the Treasury Board, with the estimates of the government of Canada.
The main estimates for the House of Commons include an estimate of voted appropriations and statutory items. The voted appropriations are estimated at $383.5 million. They include the expenditures of MPs and senior officials; committee, parliamentary association and exchange expenditures; and administrative expenditures.
The statutory items are estimated at $160.2 million. These include salaries and allowances for members and House officers; contributions to members of Parliament retiring allowances; and contributions to employee benefit plans.
These main estimates include the cost of living increases based on previously approved policies and existing legislation. These are the office budgets and supplements for members and House officers, as well as the travel status expense accounts for 2021-22, which have been increased by 1% for a total of $1.7 million. This is in accordance with the adjusted consumer price index.
The main estimates also include a budget adjustment of $1.2 million to some members' office budgets to account for changes in elector supplement, following the general election in 2019. In addition, the sessional allowance and additional salaries for members and House officers have been increased by 2.1% or $1.3 million, as provided by the Parliament of Canada Act.
Economic increases for House administration employees, which were approved by the board earlier this year, amount to $5.6 million, which has been included in the main estimates for the next fiscal year.
In addition, these main estimates include the funding related to initiatives that have recently been approved. That is a net increase of $4.5 million for the long-term vision and plan, $6.6 million for security enhancements for members, as well as the $5.2 million in funding to stabilize various administrative functions within the House administration.
The main estimates include a decrease of $1 million related to the funding for conferences, associations and assemblies, leaving $300,000 for the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which was postponed from this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now planned to take place in August 2021.
Finally, an increase of $700,000 in contributions to members' pension plans has been included due to the revised contribution rates for members.
I would like to point out that while we are still considering uncertainty surrounding the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on operations and associated public health measures that will be required, these main estimates have been prepared using the planning assumption that operations would return to near normal during the upcoming fiscal year.
This has been done to ensure that sufficient funding is available to meet the needs of the House over the coming year. That being said, we'd like to assure you that we will continue to monitor these unprecedented and evolving situations, and will take any necessary adjustments over the course of the year to ensure we can continue to adapt operations of the House to make sure we meet the needs of members in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the board approve the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for the House of Commons for the amount of $543.7 million.
This funding will be divided between two programs: $321 million for members and House officers, and $222.7 for the House administration.
This concludes my presentation on the proposed main estimates. We can answer questions the members may have.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:38
There is an item on expenditures during the pandemic a little further on in the agenda. We'll be discussing the impacts on this year in greater detail. As for the current trend, some expenditures are lower because we can't travel, create events or provide training. The reductions are greater than the additional costs stemming from the need to adapt to this new environment. We will address those items in more detail.
Here's some brief background. Some changes have occurred in the House administration and the House itself over the past two or three years, and many new technologies have been adopted. There is the new Parliamentary Precinct as well as the West Block and the new buildings. New statutes are having an impact on occupational health and safety—you mentioned security, Mr. Julian—as well as accessibility.
What we see in the proposed main estimates for 2021-2022 is the investment we need to develop the competencies and capacity that will ensure this transformation continues into the future.
As for the supplementary estimates, all we have at this stage is the reprofiling of funds, which is one of our standard practices. We aren't anticipating these amounts. This year—and I mean the current year—we requested a little more than a reprofile of funds, since previously negotiated collective agreements had a retroactive effect. Without anticipating surpluses that might have resulted from the pandemic, we wanted to ensure we had the necessary funds to meet our financial requirements.
At this point, we believe that no projects or initiatives will raise our supplementary estimates above normal levels. We are seeking only the usual reprofile of funds for next year.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:45
I'll start, and then ask my peer, Ms. Laframboise, to add to it.
Some of that are the increases related to when we talked about the capacity for HR services for members. That was increased last year, and now we're stabilizing the funding. Then there was some capacity relating to some of the new legislation that was also stabilized this year. If I'm not mistaken, there has been some reallocation of resources and alignments within HR.
I'll let Ms. Laframboise address the items more closely.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:49
I can reassure you that definitely in the last two or three years we have been putting a lot of effort into making sure, if we come forward with any requests for funding, we do an assessment and make sure we restabilize some of the resources and realign where we can to make sure the requests are only for what we need.
There has been a progression of many legislative changes or other demands around services. The cost of living is obviously one of the big ones here, and there are some pieces above and beyond that. There are incremental services when we look at some of the pieces of legislation around disclosure and legislation around health and safety. Then we have the increased capacity around services for members, around HR, around the security that's more recent and around the onboarding. The most significant portion of the growth over the last three or four years has been the onboarding and taking control of the various new buildings in the parliamentary precinct. For those we made sure we challenged the work with the experts and just asked for what we needed to maintain these various systems and the tools given to us for that assignment.
Many of these things are outside of the control of the administration to react ahead of time to try to manage these. We try to make sure our request for funding is limited to what is needed to maintain and support the infrastructure.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:52
The report we provided to you, with the documentation at this time, represents the staff on force at the time we prepared the documentation. It gives you a full sense of how many people we have working at the precinct. Previously, the 1,700 or so people you saw were representing more or less the numbers that we're looking at: the actual full-time indeterminates, full-time long-term terms, or long-term terms part time. It didn't have some of our short-term seasonal workers and it didn't have many of the other people we have who are supporting and who are not necessarily there on a permanent basis at the precinct.
For you to have a full picture, we made sure we had the complete on-site at that particular point in time. My apologies; we should have had a note to that effect on the documentation that we were presenting a different number, not a growth in numbers.
That said, there has been some growth, given all of the items I identified earlier. Many of the services we offer require the capacity to support that, and that growth is there, but it's not the 21% difference that you see in the documentation.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
I don't have that number in front of me. We could reproduce the report you received last time for the main estimates on the same basis so you can have that, and we can provide that to the board members to have a better analysis.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
No, I can't at this point, because I look at so many different numbers and I don't typically have the FTE numbers or full-time staff with the financial ones.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:55
Definitely, we can work with the board members and list out all the various services that we provide and provide an opportunity to balance off and maybe reduce some of the service levels or the types of services we offer to support members.
We can also offer to look at what I'll call the back office that supports all of these to make sure we keep those under control going forward. We have been doing some of this, but we can definitely work with the members of the board to do a bit more.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:56
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Now I would like to present the second quarterly report for the 2020-2021 year. I just discussed next year, but now come back to the current year. Since it's very difficult to explain this year's financial trends without considering the actual impact of the pandemic, I'm going to present the second quarterly report at the same time as the report we prepared for the update on pandemic-related expenditures. Items five and six will thus be presented together.
I'll begin with the quarterly financial report, which compares cumulative financial information from the current year with that from the same quarter of the previous year. I would emphasize that it's somewhat unusual to compare the two years as they are two atypical years. The factor we've cited this year is the pandemic, which has substantially affected our expenditures. Last year, it was the general election, which also had its own trends. The comparison between the two years is influenced by atypical spending habits, as we will see in the results I'm about to explain to you.
In the September 30 report, approved authorizations for 2020-2021 amounted to $539 million, an $18 million, or 3.5%, increase over authorizations for 2019-2020.
The most significant changes were a $5.9 million rise in economic increases for certain House administration employees, $4.4 million for significant investments and an amount of $3.1 million due to cost-of-living increases for members and senior officers. In addition, a $1.7 million increase in authorizations is attributable to budget adjustments following the general election.
As of September 30, expenditures totalled $230.8 million, compared to spending of $240.1 million for 2019-2020, a decrease of $9.3 million, or 3.9%.
The expenditures are also presented by type of cost. The most significant decrease in expenditures relates to the reduction of $8.1 million in transportation and telecommunications, which is due to the significant decrease in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The expenditures for professional and special services have decreased by $4.8 million, mostly due to the reduction in temporary help for members and House officers, and training and hospitality across the whole organization as a result of COVID-19, as well as the difference in some of the timing of certain payments to external partners from one year over the next. The decreases were also partially offset by the cost of accommodating the virtual House proceedings and committees.
In addition, the expenditures for material and supplies decreased by $2.7 million due to the temporary closure of the food services and the printing facilities as a result of the pandemic. The decrease was partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as the face masks and hand sanitizer used across the House of Commons.
The expenditures for computer, office equipment, furniture and fixtures has decreased by $1.1 million, primarily due to the differences in timing of certain payments from one year to another as well as a decrease in equipment purchased relating to the managed computing for constituencies initiative. The decrease was partially offset by the cost incurred for virtual House proceedings and committees and by the costs incurred for the equipment that was used to enable the House administration employees to work remotely during this pandemic.
I will also elaborate a bit more at the end of this presentation on some of the COVID implications of our various other costs.
I also note that salaries and benefits increased by $4.3 million, mainly due to the cost of living for members and their employees, as well as House administration. This increase was partially offset by the fact that we had a reduction in part-time staff and overtime as a result of the pandemic.
Finally, the report provides a comparison of the utilization of our authorities between the two years that shows a decrease of 3.3%, which was not unexpected given the current situation.
It's important to mention that the House promotes an efficient use of our resources, and we continuously strive to minimize the requests for incremental funding whenever possible. Given the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering potential savings as well as any financial impact when making funding decisions in this truly exceptional year.
Given this, I'll take a couple of minutes to highlight the financial impacts the pandemic has had on the House spending. This is looking at the analysis that was provided in your tab 6 for background. You'll see that in addition to the reassignment of resources and the cancellation or slowing down of certain initiatives, we have had significant expenditures relating to specific measures taken for a total of approximately $4 million.
Those include about $1.5 million invested to accommodate the virtual House proceedings and committees; $1.2 million for external printing services; $340,000 spent for constituency office reconfiguration and COVID-19-related supplies; and $380,000 for the House administration for computer equipment and personal protective equipment such as non-medical masks and sanitizing products. We have also noted that we've had approximately $500,000 of administrative salaries and overtime specifically related to the activities for the current situation.
Overall, though, when looking at the various patterns that I mentioned previously, the reduction in certain costs like travel and material and supplies more than compensate for these increased costs related to the pandemic.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes my presentation. I can answer any questions members of the board may have.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:03
Yes. Some decided not to open their offices. In some cases, as a result of the existing office configuration, there was no need to erect a physical barrier or install transparent plastic panels. Quite a large number of members have not yet had to incur those expenses.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:04
I believe the economic gains are slightly less than the amount of that expenditure because we continued paying the salaries of employees at our printing centres. We saved money on equipment and supplies, but the figure I have combines all the services that were interrupted, including food services. So I don't have the exact amount for printing services.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:05
We were in isolation, and employees were using the “other paid leave” code. The offices hadn't yet been configured, and the necessary adjustments had been made so employees could work safely in the printing centres.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
Item seven will be presented separately.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
Yes, since one is a variant of the other. It's just a little more elaborate. It will be easier to talk to them together.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:07
Given that most of the reassignments that have been taking place relate to our DSRP team, I'll ask Mr. Stéphan Aubé if he wants to elaborate a bit more on what they basically are not doing or doing less of and doing now.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:17
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'll let José Fernandez present this topic for me. He's my deputy CFO. He manages the team that reviews all these policies and has worked on it.
At this point here, since we're working remotely, I'll mention to him quickly that there's a lot of material in this next section. We'll abbreviate the presentation so that we can get to your questions as quickly as possible, given the time that we have going forward.
You have the floor, Mr. Fernandez.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:26
We've seen an increase in overall office equipment expenditures. Computer equipment purchases are governed by a very restrictive policy, and those expenditures are closely monitored.
The upward trend isn't necessarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We often see this trend in office equipment and furniture purchases in the year following an election, as new members need to adapt their offices or change equipment to suit their new duties. We've noticed an upward trend, but there's nothing alarming about it.
We don't have the inventory figures. In any case, when expenses are allocated, we don't always track the number of units purchased, such as the number of chairs. For computer purchases, we're still within the limits prescribed by the Board of Internal Economy's policy.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:27
An analysis is under way. I'll let Ms. Kletke tell you about that. I know that the evaluation should be forwarded to the members of the Board of Internal Economy in the coming weeks.
Daniel Paquette
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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.
Daniel Paquette
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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.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:23
I was not finished. I am simply going to switch languages.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:24
With respect to the second submission, the House Administration replaced the organization's outdated enterprise resource planning systems with a more modern and sustainable client-focused platform that consolidates financial and human resource management. Implementing the HR management model resulted in significant changes to the business process and to the organization's practices, roles and responsibilities. Because of this, a core team was established to support the new platform, and the Human Resources Service Centre was created.
The core team was created in January 2020. It manages the products, the system and the related maintenance support, in addition to the lifecycle of the new platform. The Human Resources Service Centre is a centre of expertise that brings together the many HR services and operations for members of Parliament, their employees and House Administration employees.
The two teams were created from existing resources out of various House Administration teams, but a few new additional positions had to be created. To date, funding has been obtained through budget surpluses, but that solution is temporary and needs to be stabilized. To ensure funding for these essential positions, we are requesting permanent funding to support the teams over the longer term.
As a result, funding of $866,000 is requested to support the four FTEs of the enterprise resource planning team and the five FTEs on the human resources team.
That concludes my presentation. The other members of the management team and I are available to answer your questions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:26
Actually, the service was introduced several months after the last election and calls are still coming in, as it is a point of contact for members of Parliament in their constituency offices. The various leases contain somewhat special clauses, which sometimes require payment of shared fees and the annual calculation of changes in costs.
We also have the renovations. It's important to ensure that the fees an owner can charge for needed renovations are fair. So one of the employees on this team has building renovation appraisal skills.
Our calls have decreased since the election, but during the election campaign, we had six people managing this transition. We are down to three, and the calls and support continue.
In addition, since we now have people well versed in understanding leases, we have employees who can help House Administration ensure that the right amounts are being paid. We realized that some of these clauses were more complex and, as a result, we even went back to recover expenses that had been overpaid or to pay expenses that had been forgotten.
We have a few cases like these where service has continued. So, given the type of requests we have here, we feel that this team should be maintained, because there is as much demand for support from House Administration for these agreements as for members of Parliament.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-22 11:19
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm here today to present to you the audited financial statements for the House of Commons for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020. These audited financial statements are prepared by the House administration and present only one of our financial reports that we bring to the board to help you in your role of oversight of House financial activities. They are a formal record of our House financial activities for the financial positions as they were as of March 31, 2020.
As part of the financial reporting cycle, you'll recall that last June I provided you with a year-end financial report for the fiscal year 2019-20. The purpose of the report was to present the detailed comparators between the spending and the spending authorities for 2019-20 with those of 2018-19.
Today we are looking at the 2019-20 audited financial statements. These audited financial statements are prepared using the accrual basis of accounting rather than the expenditure basis. This means that they reflect the effect of a transaction in an event in the period in which it occurs rather than in the period in which the appropriations are used. Some of the main differences you'll be noting as a result of this is that the net cost of operations include the services we've received without charge—that is, the cost of the buildings we occupy and the employer's share of the employee benefits. You will also note that the inclusion of a statement of financial positions includes inventory, capital assets and amortization, liabilities for employee benefits as well as the liabilities for vacation pay and compensatory leave.
The House of Commons financial statements were prepared in accordance with the Canadian public sector accounting standards. Also, as you'll hear in the next presentation, each year these financial statements are audited by an external independent auditor, currently KPMG.
This year, as for as long as we've had our financial statements audited, we've received an unqualified audit opinion. To me this is a testament to the efforts made by my team to ensure the systems and practices are in place to ensure reliable financial information is available for decision-making in all our financial reporting.
I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the highlights regarding financial statements.
The statement of financial position provides an overview of the House of Commons' asset and liability balances.
The assets, in the amount of $89 million on March 31, mainly consist of funding provided to the House to support its activities; receivables, which mainly consist of money to be collected from departments, agencies and other federal parliamentary institutions to which the House provides support; as well as capital assets, namely assets whose purchase price exceeds $10,000.
On March 31, 2020, the House's liability was $84 million. That mainly includes amounts payable to suppliers and employees' social benefits. The budget item that has changed the most is that of accounts payable and accrued liabilities. That increase is attributable to a longer period during which normal wages were incurred but unpaid, compared with the previous year. There is also the 2018-19 retroactive economic increase for employees, which was approved before March 31, but paid only the following year.
Let's now go to the statement of operations and the net financial position.
Our net operating costs have increased by about $10.5 million. Those costs fluctuate from year to year depending on various factors, such as different initiatives presented in the House of Commons administration's strategic plan 2019-22. As we mentioned in other reports, those initiatives include investments for computer and printing equipment renewal in constituency offices, additional resources for services for members as employers, and costs stemming from an election year.
I will not spend a lot of time explaining the different significant differences in the net operating costs, as they are the same as those we discussed in June, when we presented the financial report on the year-end results.
It should be noted that many of those differences are due to the fact that 2019-20 was an election year. That mainly led to an increase in wages and social benefits of the teams who supported the transition, as well as severance payments for members and their employees. There is also an increase under the budget item related to computer and office equipment owing to the computer equipment renewal done during an election. However, there is a decrease in travel costs, which come under the transportation and communications budget item.
Those financial statements will be published on the website today, following the meeting.
I will now yield the floor to the KPMG representatives, our auditor, so that they can present the result of their audit on those financial statements. I could answer questions after their presentation.
Andrew, I'll hand it over to you.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:05
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The next two points, not only the quarterly report, are about financial information, and since the pandemic is influencing the majority of our financial trends, I will present them together. That way, we can get better organized for questions.
To begin, I will present the quarterly financial report and tell you about the decrease we have proposed for supplementary estimates (B) for this fiscal year. It should be noted that a quarterly report generally gives a good idea of spending trends from one year to another. However, in this case, we are comparing an election year with a year that is part of the COVID-19 pandemic context. In both cases, we are not talking about typical years, and so the trends cannot really make it possible to facilitate comprehension as is the case usually.
In the report dated June 30, the approved authorities for 2020-21, in the amount of $516.4 million, appear to indicate a decrease of $4.4 million compared with the 2019-20 authorities. That is because the Board of Internal Economy approved the $17.4-million financial rollover this past July, which could not be reflected in our report dated June 30.
If we look at the overall trends, we can see that there was an increase of $4.4 million for various important investments, an increase of $3.1 million for cost of living expenses and an increase of $1.7 million for budget adjustments following a general election.
On June 30, the expenditures totalled $114.3 million, compared with expenditures of $121 million for the previous year. That is a decrease of $7.4 million.
The expenditures are also presented by type of cost. The most significant decrease in expenditures relates to the reduction of $6 million in transportation and telecommunications. This is due to the significant decrease in travel as a result of the pandemic. The expenditures for professional and special services have also decreased by $2 million, which is also due to the reduction in service contracts, training and hospitality, again as a result of COVID. As well, there is the difference in timing of certain payments to our external partners during this period. This decrease was partially offset by the cost to accommodate the virtual House proceedings. In addition, the expenditures for materials and supplies have also decreased by $2 million. That is as a result of the temporary closures of the food service facilities and the printing facilities as a result of the pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for computers and office equipment have increased by a little over $1 million. This is primarily due to the purchase of equipment to accommodate the virtual House proceedings and committees and to enable certain employees to work remotely during COVID-19.
Finally, the report provides comparison between the utilization of authorities from one year to the next, and we see a slight decrease of 1.3%, which is not unusual, given the current situation.
It's also important to mention that the administration promotes an efficient use of resources and we continuously strive to minimize the request for incremental funding whenever possible. Given the current situation surrounding the COVID pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering any financial impact when making funding decisions throughout the year.
Also, given what has happened, we have reviewed our request for the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (B). As you know, the COVID pandemic has resulted in the postponement of the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference to 2021, as well as the cancellation of the 29th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Funding for these conferences had been included in our main estimates for the current year. With the change in plans, this funding will no longer be required this year. As a result, we have offset our request with the current request for a carry-forward for 2021 in the supplementary estimates (B), and as a result, we've revised our request down to $6.3 million for a carry-forward, instead of the $17.4 million.
As for the next point, given all the financial trends the pandemic has significantly affected, we prepared you a summary of the major expenditures stemming from decisions made in the current landscape.
To add relevance, we prepared a summary of expenditures by covering the period up until mid-September, which is a bit more useful for you. Contrary to the report I just presented, this one does not only concern the first quarter. This report includes the following expenditures: $1.4 million in investments for operating the virtual House; $1.1 million paid for outside printing; $287,000 for the purchase of equipment and supplies for members' offices; and the purchase of IT equipment and supplies totalling $396,000 for the administration.
It should also be noted that a significant realignment of our staff was necessary to support the new ways of doing things and that this did not directly impact our expenditures. We continue to monitor those changes. We will submit a report to the Board of Internal Economy with our future quarterly reports.
This concludes my presentation. I am ready to answer your questions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:11
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:12
In terms of updating our expenses, the analysis period just ended last week. We'll give you a more complete analysis in a few weeks. The fact remains that, to date, all trends show that the savings exceed the additional disbursements.
It should also be noted that a portion of the savings relate to travel. However, since the members' travel is included the Members By-law, these funds can't necessarily be reallocated automatically. Regarding the other business expenses, the other travel related to voted appropriations, we can see that the savings exceed the expenses. Existing resources are actually being used to realign and support the new approach.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:13
I don't have an exact human resources analysis on hand. I know that, to date, there have been no layoffs as a result of COVID-19. However, perhaps Mr. Parent could provide some information on this matter.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:14
Those are only additional incremental disbursements. They're not the realignment at this point. We haven't gone down to that level of detail of what people have been doing—maybe different work or different contributions to everything here. Really, just incremental disbursements are what we've presented to you today.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:14
At this point, this is the analysis that we're currently working on, given that we do the periodic assessments and details, really, with our quarters. For a lot of the work you've mentioned, in the spring we were very reactive and did what we had to do to make sure everything was functional. Over the summer, those special projects really kicked in, and we deployed the necessary resources and capacity to support those. When we come back and do our second quarter report, this is the kind of analysis we can bring forward to you and bring more specifics related to that.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:16
There are many items on that report relating to material supplies and even the infrastructure of the MPs' offices, even the external printing, that were brought forward and accepted by the board.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:17
For the other work that had been brought in directly to our folks in technology to be able to make sure that the chamber was functional, Stéphan or Michel might want to add more about where that request came from.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:17
Yes, we will look and see what we can bring to you and at what level of detail.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:22
Thank you for expressing your appreciation. I'll pass on these words of gratitude to my team, which helps me prepare to answer your questions, as you can see, and to provide this information.
We're monitoring the various permissions already granted by the Board of Internal Economy. During the second quarter, we may determine the usage levels and whether additional permissions or adjustments are needed.
We also conducted a preliminary assessment of the balance between the amount paid out of the organization's central funds and the amount paid out of members' budgets. At the start of this work, we estimated that the savings were enough to cover the additional costs. That said, we must continue to monitor the situation and take into account the reality of each member. I agree with you that the members' realities vary depending on the location of their constituency offices. In any case, we can carry out this monitoring.
In terms of work tools, furniture and other items that employees may need to work from home, if the Board of Internal Economy asks us to do so, we can assess the requests and even draw a comparison with how other organizations support their employees who telework. We can provide this analysis at an upcoming meeting and propose some options for moving forward.
Some expenses were denied because of a reliance on existing policies. However, we know that our reality is different. Should the Board of Internal Economy make the request, we can conduct the analysis and come back with suggestions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:25
Yes. We'll gather the necessary information.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 13:59
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:00
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm here to present the 2019-20 year-end financial report and to get your approval for the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (B).
Parliament gives the House authorities so that it can support members based on their usual parliamentary calendar. The authorities for 2019-20 totalling $517 million constitute an increase of $10.7 million, or 2.1%, compared to the previous year.
The most significant changes regarding the increase are $3.4 million and $1.5 million respectively for the increases in the cost of living for members and House officers and for the administration. There's also a $2-million increase for the carry-forward related to the various major investments made.
In 2019-20, expenditures totalled $506 million, an increase of $18 million, or 3.8%, compared to the previous year. In the report, expenditures are also presented by type of cost. We can see that the largest increase concerns salary and benefit expenses. The total of $17.3 million is mainly attributed to election expenses.
There are the severance payments for former members and their employees and the additional salaries that the administration paid to employees that it hired to support various election activities and orientation programs. In addition, there are salary increase expenses. The economic increases of certain administration employees contributed to this fluctuation.
Expenditures for computers, office equipment and furniture have increased by $5 million. This is primarily due to key investments in such activities as the implementation of managed computing for constituencies and the increased capacity for broadcasting and webcasting for committees. As well, given the year of an election, there were additional IT investments in the life cycle of the infrastructure during this period of time. On the other hand, a decrease of $5.8 million in transportation and telecom was mostly due to the decrease in travel expenditures as a result of the election period. Our revenues also went down by $5.9 million due to a reduction in services provided to federal departments and other parliamentary institutions, as well as a decrease in catering, cafeteria and restaurant revenue, all during the dissolution period.
Finally, the report provides a comparison between the 2019-20 and 2018-19 utilization. It shows a slight increase of 1.5%. It is important to mention that the House promotes an efficient use of resources and continuously strives to minimize requests for incremental funding whenever possible. For example, financial pressures that occurred over the course of the year, such as election-related costs and economic increases for House administration employees, were all managed within existing resources rather than additional funding being sought. As a matter of fact, over the past two years, other than the operating budget carry-forward, no additional funding was sought through the supplementary estimates process.
It is customary for government organizations to carry forward lapsed amounts of 5% of their main estimates. For the House, this equates to a maximum of $17.5 million. Therefore, I am seeking your approval to include the full carry-forward amount of $17.5 million into our 2020-21 supplementary estimates. This carry-forward will then be allocated to members, House officers and the administration according to existing policies. In addition, I'm seeking your approval to include $5.5 million in the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (B) relating to the 2020-21 economic increases for certain House administration that was approved by the board in February. I should also point out that, going forward, the requirements for these economic increases will be included in our main estimates for 2021-22.
In conclusion, as you know, the House is continuing to react and to adjust operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including implementing appropriate measures on the Hill and in constituencies. I would like to assure you that we are closely monitoring the financial impacts associated with this situation. If needed, although it's not anticipated, a submission will be brought forward to address financial requirements through the 2020-21 supplementary estimates. In any case, we will report back in the fall on the impact COVID is having on our financial situation.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation. I will take any questions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:06
When we manage the overall budget from a cash flow perspective, we look at the full voted appropriation. A portion goes to House administration and then goes to the members. We know that during an election year, due to the period of reduced activities, some of these funds are not necessarily used on the members' side. Knowing this, we didn't come back and ask for supplementary estimates for something like the economic increase for last year and the retroactive implications of those. It was about $8.1 million just for that particular item. We also had the additional resources for the HR advisory services for members. That was $2.5 million. The actual election costs for the administration were a little over a million dollars.
Knowing that the cash was there in our voted appropriation, we didn't ask for the supplementary estimates. Between our programs, it shows maybe an overspend of our planned budget but not an overspend in our overall appropriation.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:09
The expenditures that will increase are the technology and telecommunications expenditures, given the establishment of the platform. We must ensure that everyone is well connected and that we have the necessary equipment.
The decreased costs include travel costs, because people aren't travelling. There are conference and committee costs, both for members and for the administration, whether the costs involve conferences or training.
At this time, we're monitoring the situation. We have tools built into our financial system that will enable us to provide a proper report this fall on the impact of these items. Right now, it's too early to quantify this and to determine where this will lead us. I think that we'll manage to do so by the middle of the year. I'll come back here to provide an update on the actual situation, once we've made these adjustments.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:11
Basically, the money for the Centre Block renovation comes from Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC. These expenditures are not directly related to the administration. I said that our revenues were down because we have advisory services. We're recovering these expenditures from the department. This isn't a net expenditure for us.
I'll explain the $17.3-million increase.
A significant part of this increase, $11 million, is attributable to severance payments for members and their employees during the election period. The members' orientation provided by employees during the election period accounts for an increase of about $3 million. An increase of over $2 million is attributable to the human resources team that supports the members as employers.
There's also the increase in the cost of living. Retroactive payments arising from the signature of the collective agreements amounted to over $8 million.
My calculation is just over $17.3 million. However, this increase is offset by the $4-million decrease in the salaries paid by members during the year. During an election period, many members have fewer employees, and new members take some time to hire employees. There's a decrease in these averages.
Essentially, this increase doesn't concern the renovation of the Centre Block. Instead, it concerns the employees responsible for providing orientation and support services to members during the election period.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:15
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
At their meeting in April, the board approved temporary measures to include additional detailed information in their advertising around local, community, government and not-for-profit organizations that could be of interest to their constituents with regard to COVID-related matters, and to be able to solicit donations for registered Canadian charities, also pertaining to COVID-related programs. This decision also included the possibility for members to reimburse Internet service charges to their employees who are now teleworking. This decision had an expiry date of June 30. Given the continued challenges around COVID, the administration is proposing that the board approve the extension of these temporary measures until the end of the fiscal year.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:20
Yes. I think part of the discussion and decision to put it into the MOB was that when we established the possibility of charging them for Internet connection for their employees, it was one way of just putting it out there, having that permission and not putting a lot of instructions or parameters around it.
We know there are various Internet packages out there that are often in the form of bundles, with different speeds or data capacity. By putting it into the MOB, we gave the responsibility to the members to ensure that whatever was being charged was appropriate for their needs. If we were to put it into the central budget—and, given the current circumstances, I can't say I would have any objections—we would have to establish the parameters and have those approved by the board to make sure that this is what we are accepting will be charged for the central budget.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:32
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
A member is asking the board to consider his request for reimbursement for outdoor furniture. The space the member is leasing includes exclusive access to an outdoor area. In order to use the space, the member purchased two tables and six chairs, for a total of $2,958.
Given that this was a non-standard purchase, the administration completed its assessment in accordance with the existing board policy. We concluded that this type of furniture is not typically needed in an office, nor is it needed in order to enable a member to carry out their parliamentary function. So that is our conclusion, that it is not office furniture. Furthermore, we conclude that it is not transferrable, since members' constituency offices do not typically include outdoor space that can be furnished and used by the member. As a result of our assessment, the expense was denied.
As per the member's request, we are seeking the board's direction on the review for this matter.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:35
According to the notes in my report, the member didn't ask for any information, formally or informally, before buying the furniture.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-07-10 14:37
No, thank you.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If you want to follow along, I know you have a lot of material in the binder related to this topic, but I'll be using the shorter deck to really walk through some of the key items here, and that deck is entitled, “Implementing the Proactive Disclosure Requirements”. That is for you to follow along with the presentation. Also in the materials you have are all the mock-ups that'll show you how the information will appear when we are able to publish to meet the requirements of the act. Today I'll really just focus on the items that pertain to the information that's going to be published and not necessarily on the format or the look and feel.
I won't be spending much time on slide 2 of the deck. It's just for background information. It really provides you an overview of the evolution of the last almost 20 years of what we've done around disclosure for the House of Commons. Obviously, I'm here today for that last step, in which 2020 will be the first disclosure, to comply with Bill C-58.
Slide 3 highlights some of the changes to what will be disclosed for members. With regard to travel, we will now be disclosing all travel incurred using House funds. For members, that will mean the detailed disclosure for travel that was basically covered by the MOB, not only the travel that was using the travel points system. For hospitality, there are no changes in the information that's going to be disclosed in terms of what we have been doing versus what the bill requires.
With regard to contracts, the column on the resources provided by the House will no longer be part of the quarterly report disclosure going forward. All contracts for which the member is the contracting authority will now be disclosed. In this case here, that means that all expenses incurred that would not already be disclosed under either travel, hospitality or the travel summary will be subject to detailed disclosure in this particular category. These expenses will be disclosed quarterly again, but they will not be cumulative as has been the case in the past, and they will still be published within 90 days of the quarter end.
On slide 4, changes for the presiding officers and House officers, there will be no changes to the information to be disclosed for travel or hospitality for these groups. When it comes to contracts, it is similar in that all expenses incurred that are not disclosed in the categories of travel, hospitality and salaries will also be disclosed in this category and again at the quarterly disclosure within 90 days of the period end.
One of the places we'll see the most significant changes is in relation to the House administration. I have that on slide 5. In all categories those disclosures will now start to happen. When we get to the travel and hospitality, it's all-encompassing so it will be all travel and all hospitality for all employees of the House, which will be disclosed in these detailed listings. For the contracts, we'll be looking at all contracts over $10,000, and we will also be disclosing the call-ups on standing offers that will be over $10,000 within that particular reporting period.
The expenses, again, are always disclosed quarterly, but what will be different for the administration is that this publication will be within 60 days of the quarter end, not 90 days. It's a little quicker after the period end.
Slide 6 gives you a bit of the changes pertaining to parliamentary diplomacy and committees. To meet the requirements for this group, changes are being made to the existing reports to meet all the requirements of the act. Parliamentary diplomacy will maintain their existing reports but add reports around delegations, around hosting and operating expenses, and around conferences. These reports will be published on the parliamentary diplomacy website also within 60 days. For committees, liaison has approved two proposals. One is a modification to the existing activity in the expenditure reports to break down the hospitality items. The new detailed travel expenditure report will also be added. Both of these will be disclosed on the committees website.
Also for this group, in order to meet the requirements of this act, IIA has asked for one additional resource, for the funding to cover at least 70% of the cost of that resource for the IIA.
In addition, the Access to Information Act provides two exceptions to proactive disclosure: security and parliamentary privilege. It is the Speaker of the House who has the authority to decide, and the administration will communicate to everyone in due course the process and criteria governing these exceptions. We will also conduct an analysis of all existing House contracts to determine the application of these exceptions, if any.
In conclusion, the administration has modified its tools and practices to meet the requirements of the act and we have a communication and training plan that is ready to be deployed to implement these changes.
To that end, we are here today to recommend to the Board of Internal Economy that it approve the recommendations presented in the submission. Specifically, we are asking the board to approve the proposed approach, changes to the disclosure reports, necessary amendments to the members' by-laws, changes to the Members' Allowances and Services Manual, and funding to cover the equivalent of 70% of a full-time employee.
We're ready to answer your questions. Thank you.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:23
We have been working with the legal counsel to make sure we were just disclosing what's required by the act, which is why some of the pieces, like the resources provided by the House, are not required and are not going to be in these detailed listings, but the interpretation has been taken to the extreme. We've worked with everybody in the organization to try to make sure we were meeting the requirements and not going overboard.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:24
It will say, “Mr. Paquette took this particular trip.” There will be detailed disclosure for all employees. This is different from what we'll see in the rest of the public service, where it's all employees and not just senior officials.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:32
Thank you.
The member's portal platform will be adjusted to ensure that all information required for disclosure is obtained. With respect to the paper process for senior officers, we do not anticipate any immediate changes, but we are currently reviewing this.
In light of recent developments, we need to update our processes to better collect information and submit it electronically. I am already meeting with the business process teams to carry out a project, in the not too distant future, to update our practices to reduce the administrative burden on members. We are working on it and it is certainly on our radar.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:34
The communication plan is ready. We will use all available platforms. We can meet caucuses in groups or online. Documents with instructions will be sent out. We have even prepared videos. All possible options have been considered to accommodate the needs and preferences of members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:02
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present a request for exception pertaining to a member's expense claim for external printing. The submission provides a summary of the timelines and the facts of the situation.
The expense claim is for external printing in excess of the 5,000 copy limit allowed in the current member's policy. The member incurred these expenses during the period after the internal printing facilities were closed and before the board approved its alternative measures during the COVID pandemic.
The member's policy requires that all printing in excess of 5,000 similar copies must be done through our internal printing facilities to ensure conformity to the policy and, very importantly, access to the preferred mail rates. The current policy also makes the member personally responsible for any amount in excess of the allowed limits.
Given the current situation, the member is asking the Board of Internal Economy to consider a departure from existing practices. The administration proposed two options in the submission. The first option would be to maintain current practices and have the member be personally liable for the excess amount. The second option would be to allow an exceptional waiver and that the excess amount be charged to the budget of the member's office.
We are seeking direction from the Board of Internal Economy on this matter.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:07
I am currently aware of only one case, but it is not at all on the same scale. We are only talking about a few hundred dollars. It is not on the same scale as the situation we are talking about.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:10
The member did meet the requirement. There was COVID-19 content in the document. The printing itself was within reasonable parameters, and the cost for printing, although a little higher than we'd seen, was not excessive.
The big part of the cost was the post, because, from my understanding, it was the printer who went to Canada Post and got the normal bulk rate, no corporate discounts whatsoever. Canada Post was not aware that this mailing was for a member of Parliament, so it didn't invoke any of the advantages we have for that. That's where the large majority of his excess cost came from. It's the postage, because it was a third party that mailed it for him.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 16:12
I don't have the exact difference between what it would have cost had we processed it ourselves and what it cost him doing it on his own.
The 5,000 limit is just on the printed materials. There has to be more than 50% difference in the material if you are going to print more than 5,000. At this point, we really don't have that many specifics in our guidelines on the limitations of using any kind of mail couriers for packages or things of that nature. We don't have that in our parameters. It's really just about the printed copies.
I don't have the specifics of what would have been the cost for us, at this point. We can probably get it for you after the meeting.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:22
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm here to present the third quarterly financial report for 2019-20.
The first slide shows the various reports prepared by the administration that contain financial data. These reports are all presented here to the Board of Internal Economy members over the course of a year. All these reports help support effective oversight of the use of public funds.
The third quarterly report compares the current year-to-date financial information up to the end of the third quarter with the financial information of the same period from the previous fiscal year. It is prepared using the expenditure basis of accounting, which is consistent with the Public Accounts of Canada. The approved authorities include the House's main and supplementary estimates, which have been approved here by the board.
As of December 31, the approved authorities for 2019-20 total $520.7 million. This represents a decrease of $2.2 million or 0.4% compared with the previous year.
The most significant changes concern a $9.3 million decrease in the members' pension plans. This decrease is offset by increases of $3.4 million and $1.5 million related to the rise in the cost of living for members, House officers and the administration. There's also a $1.4 million increase for substantive reports and a $0.6 million increase for major investments.
At the end of the third quarter of 2019-20, the expenditures totalled $350.4 million, compared with $348.1 million for the same period in the last fiscal year. This represents an increase of $2.3 million, or 0.7%.
The expenditures are also presented by type of cost. The most significant increase for our third quarter, compared with the same period in the previous year, is for computers, office furniture and fixtures. This has increased by $4.7 million due to the investments associated with the long-term vision and plan, as well as investments relating to the management of computers in constituencies and our IT infrastructure.
In addition, the 2019-20 salary and benefit expenditures increased in the third quarter. These increases are mainly related to the hiring of additional employees and the support for various initiatives, such as information technology managed on behalf of the constituencies, the team providing advisory services to members as employers, and the various preparations for activities related to the general election.
In addition, the increase in repairs and maintenance expenditures is mainly related to costs associated with the long-term vision and plan and the maintenance of our computer infrastructure. There was also a decrease in transportation and telecommunications expenditures for this period, compared with the previous year. This was primarily related to a decline in travel in the year of a general election.
Finally, the report provides a comparison between 2019-20 and 2018-19 in the utilization of our authorities. As of December 31, it shows a slight increase of 0.7%.
It is important to mention that the House promotes efficient use of resources and consistently strives to minimize the request for incremental funding whenever possible. Following this year's general election, we are closely monitoring the various considerations of the financial impact of what has been happening and making funding decisions throughout the year accordingly.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation.
I can now answer the members' questions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:26
The level of the employer's contribution to the members' pension plan is based on an actuarial valuation that we receive from the central agencies. It's a decrease between the two years of this contribution.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:26
Basically, it's the increases in the cost of living. There's also an increase in resources for some of our projects.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:26
I don't have the exact figures, but a number of people were involved in the various transition programs. A few employees helped out in the constituency offices with the various computers. We needed to increase our resources in this area.
Most of the increase is related to the new team supporting members as employers when it comes to human resources.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:26
Exactly.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:27
It'll be under transportation. I don't have that level of detail here with me to know what proportion it reflects. We can make sure to come back to the members with an explanation of what the change in the policy has been.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:28
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:29
First, I'll talk about the renewal of the computer platform. During an election period, meaning when elections take place every four years, we have the opportunity to carry out spontaneous renewals. The goal is to keep our equipment up to date and running throughout the parliamentary precinct. During a scheduled general election, the costs associated with the renewals are higher.
Are we expecting this increase next year? No, we aren't. There will be only the regular programs planned for the rest of our computers.
In the case of a snap election, various items decrease, such as travel costs, and other items increase. We carry out the necessary monitoring to ensure that we balance the budget so that we don't need to come back here to offset the budgets. We'll keep a very close eye on this, in case it happens in future years.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-02-27 12:35
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm here to present a submission requesting the Board of Internal Economy's permission to improve the carry-forward policies for members, presiding officers and House officers.
A carry-forward concerns unused money that can be carried over from one fiscal year to the next. The option of carrying forward encourages careful budget management since it allows for some flexibility by facilitating better planning of the use of resources.
According to the current policy, the method for calculating carry-forwards may create a disparity in the fiscal year following an election. The administration proposes to align the carry-forward calculation methods for all members and presiding officers to ensure a smoother transition in the fiscal year following a general election. In addition, we want to optimize the carry-forwards that support the parliamentary functions of House officers.
For members and presiding officers, we are recommending that the current method used to calculate the carry-forward for re-elected members and reappointed presiding officers be applicable to newly elected and newly appointed members in these roles. This would mean that the maximum carry-forward would be calculated as 5% of the annual budget, instead of the pro-rated budget.
For House officers, we are recommending an update to the carry-forward policy to maximize the resources within a caucus in support of their parliamentary functions. House officers would continue to receive the carry-forward based on their individual House officer budgets, but the total of these individual carry-forwards would be compared to the carry-forward amounts based on the combined House officer budget within a caucus. Should there be a difference between those two amounts, the difference would be redistributed to each House officer based on their budget's proportion of the total caucus budget.
The recommended changes don't have any additional financial impact on the House in general. The administration will continue to request funding for eligible carry-forwards through supplementary estimates, in keeping with the current practice.
These changes would provide for....
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2019-12-12 12:51
When we look at the carry-forward, usually we look at some of the priorities we have, various projects that are going to be in-year activities. Since the money is not guaranteed from year to year, we try to make sure we don't use it for a permanent pressure of that nature so that we're looking forward.
Some of it does go into some life-cycling of our assets and some of the other projects that come forward to support the members, so it's not usually determined ahead of time.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2019-12-12 12:52
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present the proposed 2020-21 main estimates and seek the approval of the board. These estimates summarize all the associated items previously approved by the board, including the two submissions that we just heard today.
What we are asking for is the acceptance of the proposed amount of $516.4 million for main estimates for the House, which represents a 2.6% increase compared to the main estimates in previous years.
The House's main estimates include both voted and statutory expenditures. The voted portion is estimated to be $360 million, and the statutory, $156.3 million. Overall, the items previously approved are increases to the legislative aspect of operating budgets for members of Parliament and House officers, as well as allowances.
One item that is new for this year is the adjustment included for $1.7 million for House officers. This is the amount, given the revised party representation in the House, for the additional recognized party after the last general election.
Some of the key initiatives that we've highlighted before are the support of $2.5 million for the HR advisory service for members, which was approved by the board last February, and two of the assemblies that were also approved during the year that are going to happen in the fiscal year, for $1.3 million.
In closing, it is recommended that the Board approve the proposed 2020-21 Main Estimates for the House of Commons in the amount of $516.4 million. This funding is allocated between two programs, $310.6 million for the members and House officers program and $205.8 million for the House administration program.
We are ready for questions.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2019-12-12 12:55
Yes, there were reorganizations in the organization to make sure that the various work is properly aligned. When it comes to the internal audit, we used to have the planning function that was under the chief internal audit. That has now been transferred under our deputy clerk for the administration, so there has been no reduction in the actual capacity from that perspective. For the procedural, it's the press gallery that was transferred, also under the deputy clerk, administration, so there has been—
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