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Results: 1 - 15 of 76
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other comments or questions?
We’ll go on to number 3, the printing and mailing services program enhancement proposals, and we’ll turn it over to Ms. Rebekah Kletke, chief operations officer.
Ms. Kletke.
Rebekah Kletke
View Rebekah Kletke Profile
Rebekah Kletke
2021-01-28 11:30
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Members of the board, as you know, the current operating environment resulting from the pandemic has required the House administration to adapt and find solutions to ensure that members of Parliament and their teams are able to continue to perform their parliamentary functions. One such example has been in the area of printing and mailing services.
On April 17, 2020, the Board approved that, from April 17 to July 30, 2020, members be authorized to provide their constituents with information on COVID-19 using external printing services, with costs to be charged to the central House administration budget.
A report distributed to board members on December 14, 2020, provided an assessment of the way access to external suppliers worked this past spring. This report showed that costs for the initiative were higher compared to in-house equivalents, that the level of service varied across Canada and that the external production time frames were the same or longer than in-house production time frames.
I am here today with a submission seeking direction from the board on initiatives to enhance and improve the printing and mailing services available to members of Parliament. These areas for improvement are aligned with the discussion held at the previous board meeting and the feedback we have received during this challenging period. With these objectives in mind, the House administration recommends that we proceed to examine the following aspects as prioritized by the Board of Internal Economy, with a view to identifying potential changes to our printing and mailing services.
We would look at internal processes and tools to determine the measures needed to decrease the current average internal production timeline of 12 days. We would look at the possibility of setting up framework agreements with printing facilities across Canada in consultation with Canada Post so that internal production time frames can be supplemented and enhanced with external search capacity during peak periods, and we would also look at access to broader external services through existing mechanisms, building on the lessons learned from the spring of 2020.
Our goal is to gain approval in the spring for a comprehensive analysis, with proposals aligned with the priorities set by the Board.
I would be happy to answer any questions you may have and take note of any improvements you suggest.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I suppose it's probably more of a comment.
I'm hearing that you're going to come back with a proposal, and that's great. I think that's wonderful. I have had a number of caucus members come forward to me with issues that they've had. I guess one thing I want to make clear for when proposals are being developed is that, although there have been some issues that have developed in terms of the length of time it's taking to get things printed, I don't know that it should be the singular focus of the efforts to make improvements.
The focus that I think I've heard more from members who have spoken to me has been more about lack of certainty in terms of the production times. I understand that there are fluctuating levels, so addressing that is important. I like the suggestion you're making about having some ability to have arrangements with outside suppliers where there are higher periods of time.... Obviously just before Christmas would be one of those examples. I think that's a great idea.
However, the other issues that arise, in the same vein, are more the inconsistency. Sometimes there have been issues where people are told to get something out for a certain date. You have to have it in.... I'll choose some dates out of the hat. Let's say they're told that in order to have it out by mid-December, it has to be in by the end of October. The member is intending to have it go out mid-December, but then things are ahead of schedule and it goes out mid-November and it's not an appropriate message to be going out in the middle of November, for example.
It's working with members to ensure that the service is provided as stated. That might mean needing to ensure that the production timeline is respected and hasn't gone over, because maybe if it goes over, now the member is sending something that's no longer appropriate to send. In other cases, it might be putting it out at an inappropriate time, too soon, because production was ahead of schedule.
It's really working with the member to ensure they're given a date for when their piece would go out, when it goes to production, and that date is respected and adhered to, whether that means rushing the process or whether that means, in some cases, storing it for a few weeks because it's been produced ahead of schedule. It's really about meeting those service schedules.
I'll give you one other similar example, and I'm talking about my own example. I've had times where we have requested certain folds on a product—I've gone so far as to ask that I see the folds as part of the proof—and then they still go out with a different fold.
Those are service standards that aren't related to length of printing, but it's an expectation by a client, and the member of Parliament, I would believe, should be seen as the client. If they're asking for a certain fold on a product, or they're asking for a certain date that they want the product to go out, we should seek to do that. It's making that clear.
Those are some of the issues that I've had raised in my caucus. I like some of the suggestions you're making, but to make it clear, it's looking at ways to improve those service standards and have more of a customer service focus model that is being sought.
I appreciate your taking this back and looking at ways that we can make improvements.
Rebekah Kletke
View Rebekah Kletke Profile
Rebekah Kletke
2021-01-28 11:37
Thank you very much, Mr. Richards, for your comments.
Certainly the three items that we brought today require some potential investment.
Further to your comments regarding the planning process, we started following our holiday card and peak period this past December, looking at making some changes to our planning process to get exactly at some of the issues you raised today. We're already working on that. They are internal process changes. The team has some really great ideas in that respect, and to bring that flexibility around planning to the table and more clarity around when products will be going out.
We'll certainly take back your other comments, and we'll work internally to meet what you're asking for.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
There are some laudable suggestions in the document. My own experience, anecdotally, with the external suppliers, the local suppliers, was that what made the difference, and why we were able to get things out more quickly—during a pandemic, of course, it's vital to get information in the hands of my constituents—was the mailing delay that came from Ottawa.
We have very talented staff in Ottawa, they do a terrific job in the printing centre, but often, it's a two-week delay getting it from Ottawa to New Westminster—Burnaby. For the external suppliers, in our case, even though it's correct to point out that they may not be as efficient and may not understand the Canada Post preparation as well as staff in Ottawa, the reality is that, once it's actually dropped at the post office, it's a one- or two-day delay, as opposed to a one- or two-week delay.
That needs to be taken into consideration. We have a vast geography, and the mailing times add complexity to mailings that are particularly tied to specific events. It makes a difference to be able to use local suppliers for certain types of mailings.
I agree with enhancing the printing team in Ottawa. There's absolutely no doubt that would mean that things could be produced more quickly for our constituents, but I also believe local suppliers definitely have a place. In the case of a British Columbia MP, it means that the overall length of time is quicker, even if it takes twice as long to produce the printing, because it takes 10% of the time to actually do the mailing and get it into the riding.
I wanted to give you that feedback, because that needs to be taken into consideration as well when we're looking at the overall proposal that comes to the BOIE.
Rebekah Kletke
View Rebekah Kletke Profile
Rebekah Kletke
2021-01-28 11:40
Thank you, Mr. Julian.
We certainly appreciate your comments and will take that into consideration. We're also looking at adjusting our planning practices, as I mentioned following Mr. Richards' comments, so that instead of first in, first out, we would plan according to the location of the constituency, so that those that might be farther from Ottawa would get done sooner rather than later in our planning process, to hopefully shorten the time frame.
We'll certainly take that into account. Thank you for your comments.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Good morning, Ms. Kletke.
First, I would like to acknowledge the fact that, within your department, you directed two of your managers to consult the whips of all caucuses on what could be improved and therefore to gather information from all recognized parties in the House.
I want to thank you for that because it shows me that you are committed to improving your department and better serving members in the House of Commons. I also want to thank you for the fact that I felt I was heard. I know that the two managers I met with last week accepted and even appreciated some of the recommendations, the improvements, that I wanted to see. I am therefore very grateful to you for that good practice that other departments will hopefully choose to adopt.
I fully agree with your recommendation. I don't know if it is the fact that we are close to Ottawa, but we noticed that the 12-day service standard was often exceeded. The average was about nine days. We are quite satisfied with the timeframes. Of course, we would like to bring them down from 12 to nine or even between five and nine, as you suggest. In the age of social media, we often want to communicate quickly with our constituents about situations or activities, or even about information related to the pandemic. Everything moves so quickly these days. I feel that, while maintaining its quality, its thoroughness and its professionalism, our printing service must do the best it can to reduce its turnaround time throughout the process, from submission to mockups, production and mailing to the public.
I want to thank you because I'm sure we will be pleased with your proposals and those that you will make in the spring, since you have understood how important it is for members to send out quality information [Technical difficulty] and that meets the need for more urgent communications.
I also noticed that you paid special attention to publications of 5,000 copies or less, which are perhaps not being used optimally. Members may benefit from becoming more familiar with this type of publication since it is a much shorter process. If you opened it up to local businesses, we might be able to use this parliamentary tool more often for more urgent publications. It's a tool that may be underused, at least by my caucus.
So I thank you once again, and I agree with the recommendation you have submitted to us today.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other comments?
Are we okay to go ahead with the recommendation presented in the report?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Anthony Rota: We're going to suspend temporarily to go in camera. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes. I want everybody to stand by if you don't mind, as we make sure everything goes in camera.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you to both of you.
I just want to encourage all members, on a granular level, to maybe take a step up and look at what pertains to the Board of Internal Economy. That might be some good advice to look at. I'll leave it at that.
We'll move on to item number seven, which is support for members' employees' telework arrangements and temporary measures in effect due to COVID-19.
This seems to be the Monsieur Paquette show today. I'll let him continue.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
José Fernandez
View José Fernandez Profile
José Fernandez
2020-12-03 12:18
Thank you, Daniel.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
This presentation follows up on an analysis requested by the board at its meeting of October 8 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two parts to this presentation. The first part is the support of members' employees' telework arrangements. The second part is on the temporary measures in effect due to COVID-19.
For the first part, the House administration reviewed its application of current bylaws and policies related to equipment typically required by an employee to perform their duties and the flexibility provided to members in the use of House resources to be more responsive to this exceptional situation. Just to shorten it a bit for the time, I won't go into the specifics here, but it's talking about the mobile computing and the portable computing devices and those used for printing.
As well, from a mental health and well-being perspective, the House administration has reminded members and their employees of resources available on the source website through the different webinar series that were offered there.
Last May, the board also approved COVID-19 temporary measures in constituency offices to support the implementation of the necessary preventative measures in accordance with the guidelines issued by public health authorities. This provided support to reopen constituency offices and for their employees to return to the office.
This brings me to the second part of the presentation.
Now I will address the temporary measures in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the pandemic, members continued to serve their fellow citizens from their constituency offices, which are particularly important in these times of crisis. The Board of Internal Economy had approved several measures, the first being the purchase of consumable items up to a limit of $1,500 per constituency office. That means non-medical masks, hand sanitizers and stickers to be applied to floors. These are items that we're now used to seeing when we enter establishments open to the public.
The second measure was the purchase and installation of plexiglass barriers to enforce physical distancing guidelines. Here the limit was $2,000 per constituency office. Where the situation required, the limit could be raised to a maximum of $3,500 with advance approval. These expenditures were charged to the House administration central budget. We note that the trend was the same for both measures: approximately 90% of members spent less than 75% of the maximum allocated amount.
Lastly, the third measure concerns the cost of professional emergency cleaning and disinfecting services that were to be used in the event a confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in a member's constituency office. Here again, we have received no requests for reimbursement for these services as of November 23 last.
With respect to advertising to enable members to communicate with their fellow citizens, the Board of Internal Economy had approved a limit increase to 20% of their budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Greater flexibility was also allowed with respect to advertising content. In particular, members were informed that they could distribute information about COVID-19 from certain organizations that might be of interest to their fellow citizens. As of November 23, nearly all members had used less than half that new limit, although there are slightly more than four months left in the fiscal year.
We have also assessed the impact of these measures on members' office budgets.
Finally, I will explain our assessment of the impacts of these temporary measures on members' office budgets for the current fiscal year.
We have compared the budget utilization with two previous fiscal years, given that the last fiscal year was an election year and its expenditure patterns are not typical. As of October 31, which is a little more than half a fiscal year, 99% of members used less than 60% of their office budget. We have seen here overall that the budget utilization is lower than in the last two fiscal years we compared it to. Restrictions on travel and gatherings imposed by governing bodies and public health authorities have contributed to a significant decrease in travel and hospitality expenditures.
In our review, we do not recommend any changes at this time to the temporary measures. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the House administration will continue to monitor members' overall expenses and the specific impacts of the temporary measures. We would like to come back to you in the winter with our recommendations for measures for the next fiscal year. At that point, we would have almost a full year's worth of data, so we'd be better positioned to provide our recommendations to the board for these or other measures.
That concludes my presentation. I will be available for questions or feedback from the board. Thank you.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have just one thing I want to touch on.
After the last presentation, my colleague Mr. Deltell was asking about printing and mailing. I've had certainly a number of complaints, for lack of a better way of putting it, from my caucus in terms of capacity constraints. There are longer periods of time required to get things completed, which is making it so that things aren't really being received by constituents in a timely enough fashion. It's almost, for lack of a better way of putting it, old news by the time they receive it.
I wonder if, in this context of the pandemic, you would be able to bring forward on a priority basis some type of proposal for our consideration to renew the temporary measure that allowed for external printing. I had a lot of very positive feedback about that, and I think many members were finding it very helpful in this context. We should be looking at renewing that.
Is there any way we could have a proposal brought to us on how that could be done?
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2020-12-03 12:25
I have heard the same concerns as you have. I can guarantee you we'll look at quickly making a proposal that will allow us to address those concerns.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
During the pandemic, we've all had to equip our home offices so we can perform our professional duties.
Mr. Paquette or Mr. Fernandez, can you say how many devices, such as laptops and telephones, were purchased to equip our home offices?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
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