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View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your very kind remarks. They are much appreciated, and I'm glad to be back with the committee once again, this time, of course, presenting the 2019-20 main estimates for the public safety portfolio.
To help explain all of those numbers in more detail and to answer your questions today, I am pleased to be joined by Gina Wilson, the new deputy minister of Public Safety Canada. I believe this is her first appearance before this committee. She is no stranger, of course, in the Department of Public Safety, but she has been, for the last couple of years, the deputy minister in the Department for Women and Gender Equality, a department she presided over the creation of.
With the deputy minister today, we have Brian Brennan, deputy commissioner of the RCMP; David Vigneault, director of CSIS; John Ossowski, president of CBSA; Anne Kelly, commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada; and Anik Lapointe, chief financial officer for the Parole Board of Canada.
The top priority of any government, Mr. Chair, is to keep its citizens safe and secure, and I'm very proud of the tremendous work that is being done by these officials and the employees who work following their lead diligently to serve Canadians and protect them from all manner of public threats. The nature and severity of those threats continue to evolve and change over time and, as a government, we are committed to supporting the skilled men and women who work so hard to protect us by giving them the resources they need to ensure that they can respond. The estimates, of course, are the principal vehicle for doing that.
The main estimates for 2019-20 reflect that commitment to keep Canadians safe while safeguarding their rights and freedoms. You will note that, portfolio-wide, the total authorities requested this year would result in a net increase of $256.1 million for this fiscal year, or 2.7% more than last year's main estimates. Of course, some of the figures go up and some go down, but the net result is a 2.7% increase.
One key item is an investment of $135 million in fiscal year 2019-20 for the sustainability and modernization of Canada's border operations. The second is $42 million for Public Safety Canada, the RCMP and CBSA to take action against guns and gangs. Minister Blair will be speaking in much more detail about the work being done under these initiatives when he appears before the committee.
For my part today I will simply summarize several other funding matters affecting my department, Public Safety Canada, and all of the related agencies.
The department is estimating a net spending decrease of $246.8 million this fiscal year, 21.2% less than last year. That is due to a decrease of $410.7 million in funding levels that expired last year under the disaster financial assistance arrangements. There is another item coming later on whereby the number goes up for the future year. You have to offset those two in order to follow the flow of the cash. That rather significant drop in the funding for the department itself, 21.2%, is largely due to that change in the DFAA, for which the funding level expired in 2018-19.
There was also a decrease of some $79 million related to the completion of Canada's presidency of the G7 in the year 2018.
These decreases are partially offset by a number of funding increases, including a $25-million grant to Avalanche Canada to support its life-saving safety and awareness efforts; $14.9 million for infrastructure projects related to security in indigenous communities; $10.1 million in additional funding for the first nations policing program; and $3.3 million to address post-traumatic stress injuries affecting our skilled public safety personnel.
The main estimates also reflect measures announced a few weeks ago in budget 2019. For Public Safety Canada, that is, the department, these include $158.5 million to improve our ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies and natural disasters in Canada, including in indigenous communities, of which $155 million partially offsets that reduction in DFAA that I just referred to.
There's also $4.4 million to combat the truly heinous and growing crime of child sexual exploitation online.
There is $2 million for the security infrastructure program to continue to help communities at risk of hate-motivated crime to improve their security infrastructure.
There is $2 million to support efforts to assess and respond to economic-based national security threats, and there's $1.8 million to support a new cybersecurity framework to protect Canada's critical infrastructure, including in the finance, telecommunications, energy and transport sectors.
As you know, in the 2019 federal budget, we also announced $65 million as a one-time capital investment in the STARS air rescue system to acquire new emergency helicopters. That important investment does not appear in the 2019-20 main estimates because it was accounted for in the 2018-19 fiscal year, that is, before this past March 31.
Let me turn now to the 2019-20 main estimates for the other public safety portfolio organizations, other than the department itself.
I'll start with CBSA, which is seeking a total net increase this fiscal year of $316.9 million. That's 17.5% over the 2018-19 estimates. In addition to that large sustainability and modernization for border operations item that I previously mentioned, some other notable increases include $10.7 million to support activities related to the immigration levels plan that was announced for the three years 2018 to 2020. Those things include security screening, identity verification, the processing of permanent residents when they arrive at the border and so forth—all the responsibilities of CBSA.
There's an item for $10.3 million for the CBSA's postal modernization initiative, which is critically important at the border. There is $7.2 million to expand safe examination sites, increase intelligence and risk assessment capacity and enhance the detector dog program to give our officers the tools they need to combat Canada's ongoing opioid crisis.
There's also approximately $100 million for compensation and employee benefit plans related to collective bargaining agreements.
Budget 2019 investments affecting CBSA main estimates this year include a total of $381.8 million over five years to enhance the integrity of Canada's borders and the asylum system. While my colleague Minister Blair will provide more details on this, the CBSA would be receiving $106.3 million of that funding in this fiscal year.
Budget 2019 also includes $12.9 million to ensure that immigration and border officials have the resources to process a growing number of applications for Canadian visitor visas and work and study permits.
There is $5.6 million to increase the number of detector dogs deployed across the country in order to protect Canada's hog farmers and meat processors from the serious economic threat posed by African swine fever.
Also, there's $1.5 million to protect people from unscrupulous immigration consultants by improving oversight and strengthening compliance and enforcement measures.
I would also note that the government announced through the budget its intention to introduce the legislation necessary to expand the role of the RCMP's Civilian Review and Complaints Commission so it can also serve as an independent review body for CBSA. That proposed legislation, Bill C-98, was introduced in the House last month.
I will turn now to the RCMP. Its estimates for 2019-20 reflect a $9.2-million increase over last year's funding levels. The main factors contributing to that change include increases of $32.8 million to compensate members injured in the performance of their duties, $26.6 million for the initiative to ensure security and prosperity in the digital age, and $10.4 million for forensic toxicology in Canada's new drug-impaired driving regime.
The RCMP's main estimates also reflect an additional $123 million related to budget 2019, including $96.2 million to strengthen the RCMP's overall policing operations, and $3.3 million to ensure that air travellers and workers at airports are effectively screened on site. The increases in funding to the RCMP are offset by certain decreases in the 2019-20 main estimates, including $132 million related to the completion of Canada's G7 presidency in 2018 and $51.7 million related to sunsetting capital infrastructure projects.
I will now move to the Correctional Service of Canada. It is seeking an increase of $136 million, or 5.6%, over last year's estimates. The two main factors contributing to the change are a $32.5-million increase in the care and custody program, most of which, $27.6 million, is for employee compensation, and $95 million announced in budget 2019 to support CSC's custodial operations.
The Parole Board of Canada is estimating a decrease of approximately $700,000 in these main estimates or 1.6% less than the amount requested last year. That's due to one-time funding received last year to assist with negotiated salary adjustments. There is also, of course, information in the estimates about the Office of the Correctional Investigator, CSIS and other agencies that are part of my portfolio. I simply make the point that this is a very busy portfolio and the people who work within Public Safety Canada and all the related agencies carry a huge load of public responsibilities in the interests of public safety. They always put public safety first while at the same time ensuring that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are properly protected.
With that, Mr. Chair, my colleagues and I would be happy to try to answer your questions.
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