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.