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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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