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Results: 1 - 13 of 13
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
We will now turn to item 2: Business arising from previous meeting.
Are there any questions or comments?
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I have a few comments and a few requests to make to the members of the Board of Internal Economy, or the board for short.
So far, we have done a good job, and there may be a few things left to address in relation to all the means used to allow for better interpretation and participation of members of Parliament in both official languages. I had the privilege of attending the last meeting of the Liaison Committee, where we discussed the report on parliamentary committee expenses that was tabled in the House of Commons today.
I asked a few questions that I am submitting to you to see if the board would agree to formally make this request to the clerks and the Liaison Committee. I was curious to know how many headsets had been purchased, which was not mentioned in the report. However, it is an indicator that would tell us how many headsets we manage to send to witnesses so that they are able to testify and have their comments interpreted into both languages. I would like to pay tribute to all the work the clerks do. They have made a dashboard to ensure that witnesses are called and that the connection and the equipment is tested before they appear.
It would be interesting to draw up a follow-up dashboard. Indeed, since new practices are being introduced to improve witness participation in both official languages, we should ensure that their testimony is properly interpreted and that they have a good connection and functioning equipment. However, in order to be able to evaluate these measures, records must be kept on each committee and each witness so that the board can then determine whether the continuous improvement process has been successful or whether more resources or other means are required to further improve it.
I would like to propose today that the members of the board compile the number of headsets that have been purchased in the latest report that was tabled in the House today. In addition, can the clerks create a dashboard to track new measures to assess their effectiveness as they are introduced and to continuously improve them? They would report to the board in the next quarter so that together we can be proud of the efforts we have all made to ensure that all members and witnesses are able to work in either official language and are assured that their interventions are properly interpreted.
I submit this request to you under item 2, Mr. Speaker, but I do not know if my colleagues agree with me.
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-02-25 11:20
Thank you, Mr. Speaker and Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
Following the discussion at the Liaison Committee meeting earlier this week, I have already begun discussions with my team and with our colleague, Mr. Stéphan Aubé. Yes, we will be able to provide statistics to the Liaison Committee and the board on the number of headsets. We will also be able to provide, as you have suggested, a dashboard to record the number of incidents. We hope that the statistics will show a decrease in incidents as a result of the new process we will have put in place.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
While we're on the topic of interpretation, it might be a good time to discuss the point that I want to raise as well. As you know, Chair—and I'm sure others are aware—I had raised a question of privilege in the House about this issue. You didn't find a prima facie case for it, but it doesn't mean that it isn't an issue and one that maybe we should discuss. It centres around the resources that are available for committees.
We're finding that committees are being prevented from continuing their meetings or finishing items of business they're needing to finish, particularly when there ends up being a filibuster or something like that. We even had it go so far that one day when there was only the one meeting, there we still not resources available apparently.
I think we do need to have a discussion about this and how we might find ways to ensure that those resources can be made available. Maybe it's a question for some of our folks in administration. Are there ways that we can find to address these things so that they don't occur?
Whether it was considered a breach of privilege or not, it certainly is problematic to the workings of Parliament when a committee is prevented from continuing its work based on a lack of interpretation available or rooms, or things like that. Is there something we could do to be looking at ways to focus the resources or to bring in new resources to help address these challenges?
I'm not sure if there's someone here who is able to address those points, but I think it's something that we do need to have a conversation about.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I agree with Mrs. DeBellefeuille and Mr. Richards. It is problematic.
Our country advocates the equality of the two official languages. This means that in committees and in Parliament, we must have access to interpretation services at all times. Interpreters are extremely dedicated and they work hard. However, there is a significant lack of resources, which has already been recognized, but is now critical.
Unfortunately, in all likelihood, there will be a third wave of the pandemic. This means that resources will have to be in place for parliamentarians to continue their work in virtual mode.
The issue that has just been raised is crucial. It is important that we respond by putting the necessary resources in place to ensure that employees are treated well and that their health and safety are not jeopardized.
In addition, committee members must be able to meet while having the resources to work.
For all these reasons, I stress the importance of responding to this urgent need, as my colleagues have done.
André Gagnon
View André Gagnon Profile
André Gagnon
2021-02-25 11:25
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Richards.
Thank you as well, Mr. Julian.
Following the Speaker's ruling on the events in the health committee that led to the question of privilege raised by Mr. Richards, there was a protocol that was shared with all of the parties that would essentially guide the administration with respect to requests from committees either to pursue—
André Gagnon
View André Gagnon Profile
André Gagnon
2021-02-25 11:27
I am sorry for all this.
I was, I believe, on the issue of protocols issued to the parties to manage requests arising from extensions, extensions of [Technical difficulty].
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-02-25 11:27
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I am not going to presume to know what Mr. Gagnon was going to talk about. He can continue along the same lines later on.
Indeed, the question of resources is of great concern to us in the administration. We are in further discussions with our partners to try to assess and determine the extent to which we could add slots for committee activities, particularly when the House is sitting. As you are aware, committee resources and activities have increased significantly, particularly since November.
According to the figures and statistics, which I will be happy to provide to the board members, the rate of time slot usage is much higher than in previous years. The House Administration and its partners are doing their utmost to meet the needs of members and provide them with the time slots they require.
As for the weeks when the House is not sitting, I want to report, with respect to resource issues,
the unfortunate incident at the Friday meeting when there was only one committee meeting, when we could and should have supported that committee. It was a miscommunication that occurred. We own that mistake. The protocol will no doubt avoid a situation like that recurring.
In the non-sitting weeks, there's definitely more availability of sitting time, whether it's for committees or associations, because the utilization rate of those weeks is not as high as during sitting weeks.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I can still hear the echo of myself, but I hope the sound is clear on your end.
Mr. Chair, I was referring to the letter that the clerk assistant, Mr. Janse, was authorized to send in your name on behalf of the Board of Internal Economy to the chair of the Liaison Committee, Ms. Sgro. The purpose of the letter was to communicate certain recommendations and observations with respect to interpretation.
The observations were that interpretation into French is hard to do at the moment because of issues with the technology. From the time committees began to meet until the end of September, 86% of witnesses testified in English. That put pressure on the technology to make high-quality interpretation available to francophone members.
Ms. Sgro forwarded the letter to all committee chairs on December 8. How many committee chairs sent the letter to the other members of their committee?
Was the letter well received, Mr. Janse?
Did the chair of the Liaison Committee feel committed to a mission of awareness and promotion with the other committee chairs? Did she impress upon them just how significant the proposals were to ensuring quality interpretation for francophone members?
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-01-28 11:27
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for your question, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
Ms. Sgro's office sent the letter to the chairs of all other standing committees. Most chairs forwarded it to all members of their committee. A few did not, but we are following up with them to urge them to send the letter to the other members.
Because the letter went out in mid-December, not many committee meetings were left before the House adjourned for the holidays. Committees are starting to sit again this week. So we are hoping to obtain some feedback to find out whether things are better now than they were before the holidays.
We are planning to hold a Liaison Committee meeting in the coming weeks. All committee chairs, including Ms. Sgro, will be able to discuss it.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
My question is on the same subject.
If the letter has not been forwarded to all committee members, it's important that it be sent to them right away. We must ensure that Parliament works well in both official languages and that high-quality interpretation services are available to everyone. I am a little concerned to find that some committees have not yet discussed it.
It is really important that the letter besent to all members so that steps can be taken to ensure that the two official languages are on equal footing during virtual sittings of the House and the committees.
Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-01-28 11:29
We will urge committee chairs who have not forwarded the letter to do so in the coming days. We hope that all members sitting on committees will have received the letter within the next few days.
Results: 1 - 13 of 13

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