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Results: 1 - 15 of 82
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-06-28 11:25
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present the 2020‑21 year‑end financial report, and to seek your approval for the supplementary estimates (B) 2021‑22. This report provides the details of the authorities and expenditures for the 2020‑21 fiscal year, as well as comparative information from the previous year. As with the quarterly reports already submitted this year, we are comparing two atypical years. This past year, the pandemic clearly impacted our spending trends, and the general election was held the year before. Therefore, our comparisons were made with due consideration of the influences on the results of those two years.
For reporting purposes, as of March 31, 2021, approved authorities for that period totalled $641.9 million, which is an increase of $124.8 million over 2019‑20 authorities. The most significant change relates to an actuarial adjustment to the members of Parliament retiring allowance account and the members of Parliament retirement compensation arrangements account in the amount of $125.6 million. The adjustment is made as directed by an actuarial report of the MP pension plan. As of March 31, expenditures totalled $610.1 million, an increase of $104.4 million over the previous year's expenditures.
The most significant increase in expenditures relates to the increase of $126.8 million in the contribution to the members' pension plan, mainly due to the previously mentioned actuarial adjustments. Had there not been this actuarial adjustment, the variance in expenditures would have been a reduction of $22.4 million.
This decrease in expenditures across the House is due to measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the restrictions on travel and gatherings imposed by public health authorities, which contributed to the significant decrease in our travel expenditures. A decrease has also been seen in areas across the whole organization, such as training and hospitality. Also, the temporary closure of some of our food service facilities and printing facilities last year has meant a significant reduction in our costs of materials and supplies.
These reductions were partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as the face masks and hand sanitizer that were used across the House, as well as by the investments in the virtual House proceedings and committees, including the remote voting system and accommodations for press conference facilities. In addition, there were costs incurred for equipment to enable the administration employees to work remotely during the COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for salaries and benefits have decreased, mainly since expenditures in 2019-20 were abnormally high as a result of the payments made in that period for severance payments for members and their employees following the 2019 general election. Also, in that fiscal year there were retroactive payments in respect of economic increases for certain administration employees.
Finally, the report provides a comparison between the 2020-21 and the 2019-20 utilization of authorities. With respect to the non-statutory spending, the utilization has decreased by 5.2%, which is not unexpected given the current situation. It is important to note and to mention that the administration does promote an efficient use of resources and continuously strives to minimize requests for incremental funding whenever possible. The COVID pandemic had a significant impact on the House business, and the magnitude of the financial impact was not apparent early in the fiscal year. Funding decisions were made based on the best information available at various times.
As the pandemic continued to evolve, restrictions continuously had to be put in place, which resulted in lower-than-expected expenditures. As mentioned before, the 2020-21 authorities totalled $641.9 million, and expenditures totalled $610.1 million. This leaves us with a $31.8-million surplus, which corresponds to the lapse that will be represented in the public accounts of Canada. The surplus represents 8.8% of the 2021 main estimates voted authorities. It is customary for government organizations to carry forward a lapsed amount of up to 5% of their main estimates.
Therefore, I'm seeking your approval to include a carry-forward of $18 million in the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (B), but note that I will return in the fall to inform the members of the final amount to be included in the supplementary estimates based on operational requirements at that particular time, if there is some reason why we don't need to carry over the full amount.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation.
I am available to answer any questions you may have.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-06-28 11:35
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am now presenting a request for an exception from a member. In March 2021, the member submitted two external printing claims that exceeded the current policy limit of 5,000 copies.
You can recall that in spring 2020 there were temporary measures put in place to allow members to use external printers, in collaboration with our printing facility's team, for constituency mail in excess of 5,000 copies. These temporary measures did end on June 30, 2020, and since then the regular policies and use of House printing facilities for constituency mail have resumed.
The member did make use of the House services during this period of time, but given the board's policy in effect at the time when these costs were incurred by the member, in March 2021, the member in this case would be personally responsible for the cost of the copies in excess of 5,000 copies.
Given the current situation, the member has requested that the board make an exception and allow him to charge the full amount to his MOB. We are here to seek the board's direction on this matter.
Thank you.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-06-28 11:48
Just in terms of the financial authority, I want to confirm that we're approving that I put aside or make a request for $1,690,000, at $5,000 per MP, for this specified-purpose supplement for members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-06-28 11:49
Thank you.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-05-13 12:56
I can take that question.
Looking at the trends over the last few years—obviously the last fiscal year and the previous one are not necessarily typical years—what we normally see as a trend is that about 25% of the members spend more than 95% of their budget. I don't necessarily have the $10,000 mark, but if you take 95% of their budget, they're spending less than $18,000 of the top of their budget. That's about a quarter of the members. The rest would still have some flexibility.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:12
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With this submission, I am seeking the board's directions about the request made by a member for temporary exceptions to the board's bylaws and policies. The member is requesting that you temporarily allow for reimbursement of members' accommodations, meals and incidental expenses for voluntary self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically when travelling between the national capital region and the constituency.
Existing board regulations and policies do not generally allow for members to be reimbursed for the costs they incur in quarantining themselves near their homes. Guidelines issued by provincial and territorial public health authorities generally indicate that alternative accommodation is not necessary. However, guidelines can vary considerably from one province or territory to another and tend to change very quickly. For this reason, we are consulting with you to determine if a temporary exception would be appropriate during this exceptional period.
This concludes my presentation. We can answer questions from members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am making a submission to obtain direction from the board on a request that has been submitted by three members of Parliament regarding the reimbursement of voluntary carbon offset credits.
Last month, the board received a letter stating that the new regulations of the Assemblée nationale du Québec allowed for the reimbursement of carbon offset credits purchased for travel between the constituency and the Assemblée nationale as well as for the energy consumption of their premises related to constituency office activities.
In their letter, the members ask the board to consider adopting similar practices for members of the House of Commons.
Under the current board bylaws and policies, members and their authorized travellers may only use travel resources provided to them in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions. Although travel is necessary to carry out these functions, the purchase of carbon offset continues to be a voluntary measure that is not imposed by any legislation or regulation and is considered to be a traveller's personal choice.
Also, current bylaws and policies do not allow members to use goods and services provided by the House to donate to any cause or benefit, or support a third party. In 2015, the board considered a similar request at which time it determined that the purchase of carbon offsets for travel did not constitute an auditable use of House resources and would be deemed a donation. The House administration has been applying this decision since then.
Following this recent request, we are seeking the board's direction on this matter. Should the board direct the administration to consider the reimbursement of voluntary carbon emission offsets purchased by the members, then the administration would perform the needed analysis and consultation and come back to the board with the appropriate recommendation to be able to do so.
This concludes my presentation. We are ready to answer questions from members.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-03-25 11:49
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.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:30
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
This presentation follows up on the analysis with respect to temporary measures in effect due to COVID-19 that was presented to the board last December. At that meeting, the House administration advised the board that we would continue to monitor the use of those various policies, the expenses that members were incurring and how they were to evolve. We would then return here to the board for any recommendations, if any were needed.
I must note that these temporary measures are all set to expire on March 31, 2021.
We have observed that the use of these temporary measures has continued since the last analysis I presented to you in December. Despite the pandemic, members of Parliament continue to provide services to their fellow citizens. As a result of our consultations, we understand the need to maintain these measures for an extended period of time.
The House administration recommends that the board, as part of the measures taken to address and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, approve extending the temporary measures through March 31, 2022. These temporary measures include the purchase of consumable items to ensure that COVID-19 preventive measures are in place in constituency offices, and an increase to the advertising limit to communicate with constituents.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes my presentation. I'm open to any questions the members may have.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:40
I'll transfer that to our CHRO. She's the one responsible for the health and safety programs.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:47
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am going to present the quarterly financial report for the third quarter of 2020-2021.
Quarterly financial reports compare year-to-date financial information for the current fiscal year to the same quarter the previous year. As with the first quarter and second quarter reports presented earlier this year, we are once again comparing two atypical years.
This year, the pandemic is affecting our spending trends, while the previous year was marked by a general election. As a result, our comparisons will be influenced by the atypical spending patterns that you may have already noted in our reports.
Let us now turn to the report. As of December 31, the approved authorities for fiscal year 2020-2021 were $539 million. There have been no changes to our approved authorities since my second quarterly report to you in December.
Expenses to December 31 totalled $344.2 million, a decrease of $6.2 million, or 1.8%, from the previous year.
The most significant decreases in expenditures relate to the continuing decrease in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Decreases have also been seen in the areas of training and hospitality across the whole organization, as well as the reduction of temporary help services for members and House officers—also all as a result of COVID-19.
The temporary closure of some of the food services facilities and the printing facilities earlier in the year has led to reduced costs for materials and supplies, which have been partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as face masks and hand sanitizers that are used across the House of Commons.
Expenditures for computers, office equipment, furniture and fixtures have also decreased, primarily due to changes in the timing of some of our life-cycle activities. This decrease was partially offset by costs incurred for purchases to support virtual House proceedings and committees, and costs incurred for equipment that enabled House administration employees to work remotely during this COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for salaries and benefits have increased, mainly due to additional spending on members' employee salaries and the cost of living increases for members and House administration staff. These increases have been partially offset by the reduction in the number of employees for members and House officers, delays in some of the staffing and a reduction in part-time costs and overtime as a result of the pandemic.
Finally, the report does provide a comparison of the utilization of our authorities, which shows a decrease of 3.4%, which is not unexpected given the current situation. Also, given this current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering any potential savings, as well as any financial impact that may have on our funding decisions due to this truly exceptional year.
Mr. Speaker, that concludes my presentation.
I am ready to answer questions from members of the committee.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:31
Thank you Mr. Chair.
I'm here to present the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for approval by the Board of Internal Economy. The estimates summarize the funding for items already approved by the board. There will accordingly not be any new funding requests during this presentation.
The proposed main estimates for 2021-22 total $543.7 million, an increase of 5.3% over the main estimates for the previous year.
In compliance with the Parliament of Canada Act, the House must prepare an estimate of the sums that will be required to pay the expenditures for the fiscal year to come and shall transmit the estimate to the Treasury Board, with the estimates of the government of Canada.
The main estimates for the House of Commons include an estimate of voted appropriations and statutory items. The voted appropriations are estimated at $383.5 million. They include the expenditures of MPs and senior officials; committee, parliamentary association and exchange expenditures; and administrative expenditures.
The statutory items are estimated at $160.2 million. These include salaries and allowances for members and House officers; contributions to members of Parliament retiring allowances; and contributions to employee benefit plans.
These main estimates include the cost of living increases based on previously approved policies and existing legislation. These are the office budgets and supplements for members and House officers, as well as the travel status expense accounts for 2021-22, which have been increased by 1% for a total of $1.7 million. This is in accordance with the adjusted consumer price index.
The main estimates also include a budget adjustment of $1.2 million to some members' office budgets to account for changes in elector supplement, following the general election in 2019. In addition, the sessional allowance and additional salaries for members and House officers have been increased by 2.1% or $1.3 million, as provided by the Parliament of Canada Act.
Economic increases for House administration employees, which were approved by the board earlier this year, amount to $5.6 million, which has been included in the main estimates for the next fiscal year.
In addition, these main estimates include the funding related to initiatives that have recently been approved. That is a net increase of $4.5 million for the long-term vision and plan, $6.6 million for security enhancements for members, as well as the $5.2 million in funding to stabilize various administrative functions within the House administration.
The main estimates include a decrease of $1 million related to the funding for conferences, associations and assemblies, leaving $300,000 for the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which was postponed from this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now planned to take place in August 2021.
Finally, an increase of $700,000 in contributions to members' pension plans has been included due to the revised contribution rates for members.
I would like to point out that while we are still considering uncertainty surrounding the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on operations and associated public health measures that will be required, these main estimates have been prepared using the planning assumption that operations would return to near normal during the upcoming fiscal year.
This has been done to ensure that sufficient funding is available to meet the needs of the House over the coming year. That being said, we'd like to assure you that we will continue to monitor these unprecedented and evolving situations, and will take any necessary adjustments over the course of the year to ensure we can continue to adapt operations of the House to make sure we meet the needs of members in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the board approve the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for the House of Commons for the amount of $543.7 million.
This funding will be divided between two programs: $321 million for members and House officers, and $222.7 for the House administration.
This concludes my presentation on the proposed main estimates. We can answer questions the members may have.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:38
There is an item on expenditures during the pandemic a little further on in the agenda. We'll be discussing the impacts on this year in greater detail. As for the current trend, some expenditures are lower because we can't travel, create events or provide training. The reductions are greater than the additional costs stemming from the need to adapt to this new environment. We will address those items in more detail.
Here's some brief background. Some changes have occurred in the House administration and the House itself over the past two or three years, and many new technologies have been adopted. There is the new Parliamentary Precinct as well as the West Block and the new buildings. New statutes are having an impact on occupational health and safety—you mentioned security, Mr. Julian—as well as accessibility.
What we see in the proposed main estimates for 2021-2022 is the investment we need to develop the competencies and capacity that will ensure this transformation continues into the future.
As for the supplementary estimates, all we have at this stage is the reprofiling of funds, which is one of our standard practices. We aren't anticipating these amounts. This year—and I mean the current year—we requested a little more than a reprofile of funds, since previously negotiated collective agreements had a retroactive effect. Without anticipating surpluses that might have resulted from the pandemic, we wanted to ensure we had the necessary funds to meet our financial requirements.
At this point, we believe that no projects or initiatives will raise our supplementary estimates above normal levels. We are seeking only the usual reprofile of funds for next year.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:45
I'll start, and then ask my peer, Ms. Laframboise, to add to it.
Some of that are the increases related to when we talked about the capacity for HR services for members. That was increased last year, and now we're stabilizing the funding. Then there was some capacity relating to some of the new legislation that was also stabilized this year. If I'm not mistaken, there has been some reallocation of resources and alignments within HR.
I'll let Ms. Laframboise address the items more closely.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:49
I can reassure you that definitely in the last two or three years we have been putting a lot of effort into making sure, if we come forward with any requests for funding, we do an assessment and make sure we restabilize some of the resources and realign where we can to make sure the requests are only for what we need.
There has been a progression of many legislative changes or other demands around services. The cost of living is obviously one of the big ones here, and there are some pieces above and beyond that. There are incremental services when we look at some of the pieces of legislation around disclosure and legislation around health and safety. Then we have the increased capacity around services for members, around HR, around the security that's more recent and around the onboarding. The most significant portion of the growth over the last three or four years has been the onboarding and taking control of the various new buildings in the parliamentary precinct. For those we made sure we challenged the work with the experts and just asked for what we needed to maintain these various systems and the tools given to us for that assignment.
Many of these things are outside of the control of the administration to react ahead of time to try to manage these. We try to make sure our request for funding is limited to what is needed to maintain and support the infrastructure.
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