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Results: 1001 - 1055 of 1055
Michelle Laframboise
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Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:11
Employees who are on medical leave can participate, provided they get medical clearance from their authorizing physician.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I understand.
Now, in the case where the circumstances that triggered the medical leave are related to this policy, does that get factored into this equation? To me, it would seem like that might become a shortcoming in this policy. If the assessment is triggered based on an incident and the employee is now on medical leave as a result of that incident, it does seem to me that this person's not being included would potentially be a shortcoming here.
Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:12
Actually in my experience.... First of all, it's important that we absolutely rely on the physicians to be the ones to make the decision, regardless of the type of medical leave. In my experience, however, I have found that many physicians encourage employees who are on medical leave to be part of an assessment if they feel that it will contribute to the person's wellness and potentially to their healing or getting better.
I have seen both. I've seen some physicians who have encouraged employees to participate, even though they're on medical leave, and I've seen others who just don't feel it's healthy for the employee to do so. We really do rely on the physician's decision.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Are the results of the workplace assessments or of harassment investigations that are undertaken provided to party whips or to party leaders? If so, how much detail is provided in those?
Michelle Laframboise
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Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:13
Workplace assessments vary. It depends on why you're doing it and whom you're doing it with. You're going to decide at the very beginning what you're going to share.
In some cases, you may make the decision to share outcomes only or recommendations only. It's important to share, though, because the employees have contributed and you want them to be able to get a sense that you are accountable for the results and that you're going to act on them, so you do typically share the outcomes and the recommendations.
As far as whom you share them with, it depends on who requested it and who participated in it. Every party has its own internal structure, so some of these workplace assessments may have been requested by a member of the party, in which case the information may be shared. If not, if it's handled outside, then they may not.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
When you say “a member of the party”, is that specific to the party whip? Is that the party leader? Is it either? Could it be any member of the party? I'm trying to get more clarity as to who can precipitate these things and whom the information would be shared with.
Michelle Laframboise
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Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:14
That also varies. Typically, we deal with the whip and the whip's office, but if it's a member of Parliament who requested the workplace assessment, then it would be shared with them.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. It's not specific to the whip or the party leader. It could be either or it could be others. Is that what I'm hearing? It depends on the circumstance.
Michelle Laframboise
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Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:15
Yes.
Robyn?
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:15
I just wanted to add that in a lot of cases with the workplace assessments, because they are outside of the formal harassment process, it's often the member who's requesting it themselves. In those cases, it's the member who is receiving it. In other cases, if the whip might be involved to help support the member, they may get a copy, but that's a little bit different from investigations, which are much more formal. Under the new policy, the whips don't actually get a copy of the report, whereas under the former policy they did get the investigation report.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
Maybe could you just clarify for me a little bit the former policy versus the current policy—what role the party whip has, what role the party leader has and what the change is there.
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:16
Certainly.
Under the previous policy, the 2014 one, both the whip and the CHRO could receive and have carriage over the complaints. With the changes that came into effect in 2021, the receipt of those complaints is now placed with a designated recipient. In this case, it's the office of the CHRO, which has delegated it to the respectful workplace program. It doesn't necessarily mean that a whip might not be made aware of an allegation, but then they would be referred to the office of the CHRO through the respectful workplace program.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
I have one other question. What would be the role or responsibilities of an MP who receives allegations about a caucus colleague? Are they supposed to turn that over to their whip? Are they supposed to turn that over to HR? What should an MP receiving allegations about a caucus colleague do with that information? What is their role and responsibility to the person who has brought those allegations to them?
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:17
It would depend also on party structure. As you know, the different parties have different structures in terms of how they report information internally. In terms of the actual policy itself, witnesses can report allegations of harassment directly to the designated recipient.
Robyn Daigle
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Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:17
The situation.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
—the policy in place for the particular party. Is that what I'm hearing?
Robyn Daigle
View Robyn Daigle Profile
Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:17
Well, just in terms of.... We don't always.... We get it at one point, but we don't know what's occurred up until that point.
Mr. Blake Richards: Understood.
Ms. Robyn Daigle: Under the current policy, the designated recipient is the respectful workplace program. Allegations are most often brought forward by the employees themselves, because we can't proceed without actual specific allegations in terms of a complaint.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
So the expectation would be that at some point it comes to you, but that may not be the starting point. Is that what I'm hearing?
Robyn Daigle
View Robyn Daigle Profile
Robyn Daigle
2021-12-02 12:18
It's possible, because for a complaint to proceed, as well, even if it is a third party or witness who provides the information, the individual themselves will have to be willing to proceed with the complaint. We can't proceed without that.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
I think those are all the questions I have for now.
Thanks.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll go now to Mr. Julian.
Mr. Julian.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Laframboise, thank you for your presentation.
Obviously, we agree that a policy created to combat harassment and violence is extremely important. It is meant to ensure a workplace free of harassment and violence of any kind. A lot of people have worked hard to achieve that.
As far as the internal review is concerned, what's important is making sure that the policy truly reflects the objectives that have already been set. I'd like to know who was consulted as part of the internal review. Were the whips consulted in connection with this report and the answers we were just given?
Michelle Laframboise
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Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:19
Thank you for your question, Mr. Julian.
No, the whips were not consulted during the internal review.
The first thing we did was have our teams and legal service conduct an examination to make sure the policy satisfied all of the legislative requirements established under the Canada Labour Code. The code is pretty thorough when it comes to the elements that a policy on the prevention of workplace harassment and violence should cover. We made sure that the policy met those requirements.
The second thing we did was make sure that the best practice elements in policies outside the House of Commons were in place. We looked at policies adopted by other employers to determine which were the most effective and complete. We can say quite plainly that our policy is on a par with those adopted in other workplaces. We made sure of that.
The third thing we did was examine our own internal process for impartiality and accessibility. We made sure the training was clear and well delivered. We checked our internal mechanisms to monitor the training. We made certain that the policy was not only sound on paper, but also well implemented in real life.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much for that answer. Of course, the NDP on Parliament Hill has a bit of a different structure, because we're the only party that has a collective agreement and unionized workers. There's also a very strict anti-harassment policy within our collective agreement. What we endeavour to do is to take the anti-harassment policies that are agreed on by all parties and add to that the protection that is offered through the processes that are in our collective agreement.
The idea of getting to zero tolerance and ensuring that there is no harassment and no violence whatsoever in this workplace is extremely important, I think, to all parties. We've added an additional and I think important level of protection. I would like to suggest with the internal review that it would be a helpful further step just to consult with the whips of the parties to ensure there's feedback coming in.
I know there is a suggestion in the conclusion that we look to a review, but it seems to me, since the question has come up and since we have this report before us, that it's a useful and helpful next step to ensure that what we're putting in place as an anti-harassment, anti-violence strategy and policy is working; and that whips, who are really on the front lines for a number of reasons on these issues, have the opportunity for feedback as well.
Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2021-12-02 12:22
Absolutely. Thank you very much.
As I mentioned, we do have to do a review in three years, but that doesn't mean we don't constantly monitor and evaluate the performance of the policy to ensure that it meets everyone's needs. I think a dialogue, getting feedback from the principal users and stakeholders of the policy, is definitely the way to go, so thank you for that.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there questions or comments?
I believe we have consensus on the recommendation in the conclusion of this report.
Right now we'll proceed to item number six, the quarterly financial reports for the second quarter of 2021-22 and revised 2021-22 supplementary estimates (B).
Mr. St George, our financial officer, will be proceeding.
Paul St George
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Paul St George
2021-12-02 12:23
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present the quarterly financial report. The report in your package covers the period from April 1 to September 30, 2021. Reporting is consistent with the practices used for the Public Accounts of Canada.
Total authorities approved for the House of Commons for the current fiscal year are $561.4 million. As of September 30, the House had spent $244.6 million, so 46.6% of the amount for the year. The rate of usage has gone up slightly, that is, 0.8% over last year.
When comparing this year's first six months of expenditures with the prior year's, we continue to see financial impacts from COVID-19, offset by impacts due to the recent general election.
While these have resulted in some of the $13.8-million increase to date, the majority of the variance was expected, and was driven by the economic increases for House administration employees and the $22.4 million added to the 2020-21 authorities to support security enhancements, sustainment of information technology, cost-of-living increases and other approved initiatives.
Furthermore, I'd like to bring it to the attention of the board that the $18 million that was approved on June 28 for the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (B) was reduced by $300,000 to $17.7 million to account for the postponement of the 65th Commonwealth parliamentary conference to next year.
The specifics of the report and variances can be found within your package in the quarterly financial report.
Beyond that, Mr. Speaker, there are no other financial material variances to bring to your attention.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
Mr. Holland.
View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2021-12-02 12:26
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I just want to take a moment to welcome Paul to BOIE and to his role.
As well, through you, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Daniel Paquette for his service and wish him a very happy and fulfilling retirement. He's served the House very well. Hopefully, you can extend our appreciation for his work.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or comments?
Okay. We'll proceed to number seven.
The audited financial statements for 2020‑21.
We turn once again to Mr. St George.
Paul St George
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Paul St George
2021-12-02 12:27
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased to present the audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2021. They were prepared in accordance with the Canadian accounting standards for the public sector. This document is one of the financial reports that the House Administration provides to the Board of Internal Economy for the purposes of the financial activities of the House of Commons.
During the financial reporting cycle, the unaudited year-end financial report for 2020‑21 was submitted to the Board on June 28, 2021. This report contains total expenditures of $610 million. The purpose of the report is to compare actual year-end expenditures with authorized expenditures and to report any variances.
From a cash perspective, in the audited financial statements, the modified cash expenditures remain unchanged from the original $610 million that you have seen. However, the public sector accounting standards require to account for other items such as net amortization and services received without charge—for example, accommodations at $69 million and other non-cash items—for a total expenditure of $705 million.
The financial statements are audited each year by an independent external auditor, which currently is KPMG. We are pleased to report that we have received an unqualified audit opinion.
I will now pass the floor to the auditors from KPMG to present the audit results.
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:28
Thank you for the opportunity to present our audit opinion on the 2021 financial statements and provide a brief summary of the conduct of our audit.
I am Andrew Newman, KPMG partner, and the independent auditor of the House of Commons. I would also like to introduce my colleague, Alexandra Racine, senior accountant on the audit.
The chief financial officer has presented the 2021 financial statements, which management has prepared using public sector accounting standards. Public sector accounting standards are used by all governments in Canada and are issued by the Public Sector Accounting Board, on which I served as member and vice-chair for 12 years.
Our role as your independent auditors is to obtain reasonable assurance about whether these financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement.
The 2021 financial statement audit officially began with an audit plan presented to House management on May 25, 2021, which was based on multiple discussions with management in the preceding months. Our audit was conducted in accordance with that plan.
During our audit, we received full participation from the House management team and employees. All of our questions were answered, all of the required supporting documentation received and all issues were satisfactorily resolved.
We are pleased to report that we did not identify any new significant control deficiencies during our audit, and our prior year observation relating to payroll change review controls has been corrected by management.
We have completed our audit and issued our audit opinion on July 7, 2021, in our independent auditor's report. That opinion states that “the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the House of Commons as at March 31, 2021, and the results of its operations, its accumulated surplus and its cash flows for the year that ended in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards.”
That concludes my report.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good.
I want to thank you, Mr. St George, Mr. Fernandez, Mr. Newman and Ms. Racine.
I understand that it is a normal and good governance practice for independent auditors to have a discussion in camera with board members, without management present, regarding the preparation of the year-end audited financial statements. I would therefore like to propose to the board members that we hold a short in camera session without House administration officials to allow the board members to have this discussion.
Do I have the acceptance of the members to proceed in camera?
Go ahead, Mr. Richards.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Just before we do, I have a couple of very general questions that I think don't need to be in camera without the officials, for which it would probably be helpful to have everyone here, if you don't mind. They are not—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I just want to make sure I have a consensus. I don't want us to do anything we'll regret later. That's why—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
No. I'm confident that you'll find—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay. I'll trust your confidence, then. Go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have just a couple of very general questions for Mr. Newman from KPMG.
With regard to reporting relationships, I wonder if you can give us your advice on what is the best reporting relationship for an organization's internal auditors, if you have any advice on that. I guess maybe I could even ask, specific to our situation, is that reporting relationship best to the Clerk, to the Speaker or directly to the board...? What would your thoughts or advice be there?
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:32
Thank you, Mr. Richards, for the question. Through you, Mr. Speaker, you referenced “internal auditors”, so I do want to acknowledge that I am the independent external auditor of the House. I'm not your internal auditor.
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:32
As the leader of our local not-for-profit group practice for many years and a former national leader in education for KPMG, I can say that the normal course for an internal audit relationship would be for the reporting relationship to come to what would normally be referred to as an audit committee or a board, in the normal course. In the House of Commons environment, that would be this board, I would believe.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, much as you are coming to us to report your external audit—
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:32
That's correct.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Ordinarily, you would suggest that the internal audit would be presented to the same board or body.
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:33
That would be the ordinary course in a public sector organization, yes.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I have just one other question.
With regard to the materiality threshold, I believe your audit has a materiality threshold of $5 million. Now, we're not all accountants or, as in my case, married to one, so could you just elaborate in layman's terms on what that means for those who may not—
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:34
Yes, Mr. Richards. You're very lucky to be married to an accountant, I have to say.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I believe I am, yes.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:34
You have to say that. You're in a public forum.
Yes, we do set an audit materiality of $5 million. That's about 0.7% of the expenditures of the House. For a public sector organization—and that's how we view the House, for obvious reasons—the threshold would be between 0.5% and 3% of the expenditures of the organization, so 0.7% is very much on the low end of the scale.
The reason it's at the low end of the scale is that when you look at users of the financial statements, you also look at certain factors, such as, are there investors? Are there debt holders? But for the House of Commons, one of those factors is, is it a high-profile organization with lots of people who are interested in those statements? For obvious reasons, the House of Commons qualifies for that, so that is why we're at the low end of that threshold.
What does materiality serve? It serves two purposes. One, it helps determine the nature and the extent of testing that we would do. That doesn't mean that we can only test things over $5 million. It means that when we put in statistical sampling, the $5 million is one input into that. In addition, it is a quantitative estimate on the level of misstatement that could be in the financial statements that would not impact the accountability or an economic decision of a reader of the financial statements.
Total operating expenditures in 2020-21 for the House were about $730 million. What that means is that there would not be a different accountability decision, based on a read of the statements only, if that number were in fact either $725 million or $735 million.
Now, clearly, this board and management have a much higher level of precision required in what you can do day by day, but that is just based on the reader of these financial statements. Would they make a different accountability decision on the cost to run the House of Commons if it were in that range? Materiality gives you a range around the benchmark number, which in this case is the total expenditures.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
As a last thing, to go even more basic than that, just to explain this to someone in really simple layman's terms, on that $5 million, if we're talking about something that's $4.99 million, what does that mean?
Andrew Newman
View Andrew Newman Profile
Andrew Newman
2021-12-02 12:36
Okay. If it's $4.99 million, that's pretty close to the $5 million. What happens when we find—or were we to find—a misstatement is that for anything that is above 5% of that number—in this case, $250,000—we would speak to management and ask that it be recorded, corrected, in that regard. We would report that to management on our findings on whether it was recorded or not. If those were viewed as significant, we would report them to, in a normal sense, an audit committee, but in this case, this board.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your indulgence.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good. We will proceed to go in camera. Do I have the acceptance of members to proceed in camera?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good.
We will now break for a few minutes so that the committee can move in camera.
I will now ask House Administration staff to leave the room. When our discussion is over, we will let House Administration staff know that they can rejoin the meeting. Those participating online will be placed in a virtual waiting room and re-admitted to the virtual meeting at the appropriate time.
Thank you.
[Proceedings continue in camera]
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