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Results: 61 - 90 of 570
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
This presentation matters. The number of francophones around the world is rising dramatically, so it's vital that we maintain these ties with countries that have the use of French in common. Not to mention, ours is a bilingual country, with an English-speaking population. I know a conference will be held next year for Commonwealth countries.
I have two questions. Are the budgets for the two conferences similar? For that conference, the budget is $1.3 million. In both cases, what happens if COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc come conference time? Should the conferences have to be cancelled, what would the financial repercussions be in each case?
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2020-10-08 11:56
Allow me to answer the first question regarding the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which will be held in Halifax next year. Those are actually the same budgetary requirements. The budget you approved for that conference was $1.3 million, which is very similar to the request we are putting forward here.
As Mr. Drouin and Mr. Stanton said, for the contracts we will sign with suppliers, both for that conference and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Halifax, we worked with the Office of the Law Clerk and our contracting experts at the House to ensure that the wording would allow us to invoke a force majeure clause should the pandemic force us to cancel the event, and also to protect us financially.
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2020-10-08 11:57
The goal is to remove the obligation to pay for the hotel rooms we are not using should we decide to cancel the conference in advance by a certain amount of time—60 days, 90 days or 120 days. However, we will align ourselves with international secretariats to ensure that, if we had to decide to cancel or significantly modify the conference, we can do so within the required time frames without having to pay needlessly.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, but that does not quite answer my question. Let's assume that, in both cases, we have to cancel six months in advance. Will the financial consequences be to the tune of $100,000, $200,000, $500,000 or $1 million? Do we have a rough idea of the costs even if we were to cancel six months in advance?
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2020-10-08 11:58
No, but there will be some costs.
I think that most of the costs incurred would not be related to contracts, but rather to human resources. In the requested budget, we included a request for staff who will work on planning the conference. Those people will do work and will be paid their wages. So we will bear those costs.
However, when it comes to contracts with hotels, suppliers and bus companies, there should not be any associated costs.
If we use the example of the Conference of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, which was supposed to be held this summer in Vancouver and which we had to cancel for obvious reasons, there were no costs associated with cancelling it or there were very minimal costs for the Canadian Parliament, in the amount of less than $10,000.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Deltell, go ahead.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Drouin, I am very happy to see you. My questions will be for you. First, I think that choosing Montreal is a very good thing. I thank you for that decision and commend you on it.
My first question is about the budget. You say that, in the first two years, the budget will come from the budgetary surpluses anticipated by the associations.
How can you assure us of that? The amount is obviously not $3 million, but how can you assure us that the associations will not spend the money set aside for them?
View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
I will add a comment, and Mr. LeBlanc can correct me.
Normally, in our associations, we always anticipate travel costs associated with the participation of Canadian parliamentarians.
Mr. Deltell, you can imagine that those costs will not be incurred for obvious reasons this year.
Mr. LeBlanc, correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the associations will probably have budgetary surpluses if those costs are taken into account.
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2020-10-08 12:00
Yes, absolutely. The surplus will obviously be pretty high this year.
If we consider the associations' historical spending, although the requests often exceed the budget envelope total, there are normally surpluses for all sorts of reasons in terms of the actual spending from one year to another. For example, we are anticipating the participation of 10 parliamentarians in an activity and, finally, owing to activities on the Hill, only six parliamentarians are able to participate. So that leads to savings.
We have looked at the historical spending in terms of the budget envelope of the Joint Interparliamentary Council, or JIC, and we are very comfortable with saying that there will be a surplus. There was a surplus on average in the past. Over the past three years, for example, that surplus was $300,000. That's well within the parameters we are putting forward in this year's budget requests.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
I now have more of a substantive question.
The meeting is being held in 20 months. We all want life to get back to normal in 20 months. The least we can say is that no one can be sure of that.
Why not work right away on preparing a hybrid meeting?
View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
I can say a few words on that.
We will perhaps experience that for the first time at the annual meeting in January, which will be held in Morocco. I cannot speak for the other associations because I don't know.
However, I do know that, at the APF, for instance, organizers still have decisions to make on the in-person holding of the Morocco meeting. Of course, it is highly likely that the meeting will be of the hybrid variety or even virtual. That will sort of be our pilot project with the APF. Even in anticipation of July 2021, no decision has yet been made on the location or the plenary session that will take place. It remains to be seen how it will be held, but we are working on it in close collaboration with the APF's office and its parliamentary secretary general.
However, Mr. Deltell, the decision has not been made yet. It is a bit too early for us to be able to decide now. I think that, if we are unable to hold the meeting in person, we will force the use of a hybrid or even virtual model if need be.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
I am happy to see that this is in the cards, but I am wondering whether we could not immediately come up with a plan B and assess it to see where things are going. I think that major savings could be achieved for all participants. As Mr. Rodriguez was saying earlier, some countries are not as privileged as ours. We could work on this immediately.
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2020-10-08 12:03
Allow me to reassure you. In our planning, we are exploring those options with suppliers to determine whether we should have a hybrid model or a completely virtual one. That is part of our discussions with them. We are submitting a request for an in-person meeting because it will probably be the most expensive option. Therefore, if it is held and it costs the budgeted amount, we will have the necessary approved funding. If the meeting is held virtually, savings can be made.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any further questions?
We will now consider the request to accept the Joint Interparliamentary Council's recommendation. Does everyone agree?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Anthony Rota: We will now discuss item No. 6 on the agenda, the quarterly financial report for the first quarter of 2020-21 and revised 2020-21 supplementary estimates (B).
Mr. Paquette, go ahead.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Have you finished your presentation, Mr. Paquette?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-10-08 12:11
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
Mr. Julian, Mr. Richards and Ms. DeBellefeuille would like to ask questions.
Mr. Julian, the floor is yours.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Paquette. I would just like to compare apples to apples.
There are additional expenditures of $3.1 million on September 17, but we see that some of the spending was reduced because of COVID-19. Yet, this continues in the financial statement of June 30. If we compare the money saved up until September 17 with the additional costs, what is the impact of COVID-19 on parliamentary operations?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I want to know how many employees on Parliament Hill have been dismissed or laid off since the start of the pandemic.
How many regular full-time employees have we lost? How many aren't working because of COVID-19?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
Pierre Parent
View Pierre Parent Profile
Pierre Parent
2020-10-08 12:13
Good afternoon, Mr. Julian.
We haven't laid off any full-time staff. We simply haven't called back the people who were on call. Under these circumstances, no full-time employees have lost their jobs. I can't give you the exact figures at this time.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Could you provide the figures at the next meeting?
Pierre Parent
View Pierre Parent Profile
Pierre Parent
2020-10-08 12:14
We should certainly be able to find those figures.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is that all, Mr. Julian?
Okay.
We'll now go to Mr. Richards.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
On the $3.19 million specific to COVID, is that new spending only, or does it include the value of existing resources that would have been deployed towards pandemic-related items?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
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.
Results: 61 - 90 of 570 | Page: 3 of 19

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