BOIE
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 84 of 84
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you to the LTVP working group. I know what an incredible amount of work this is, having been briefly involved before you passed on the torch. Our big thanks for all of the work that you've done, that you're doing and that you will do in the future.
I am particularly interested in the tunnel options. When any of us visit other Parliaments—the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament—all of them, within their parliamentary, legislative or capital precinct, have a tunnel network. It's for simple reasons. It's a question of effectiveness and efficiency.
We have the coldest national capital on earth. What happens in winter time, and what certainly has happened since I've been on the Hill—particularly when you have visitors—is that you go through this process of getting your coat, hat and everything else on, leaving your office building, going across the street, taking everything out, going through another security screen and finally getting into the area where you're actually going.
Sometimes, if there are committee hearings, that can be multiplied many times during the course of a day. It has never been efficient, to my mind. People are dressing and undressing—taking off coats, mitts and everything else—many times a day, and it seems to me that having a tunnel network will make a big difference in terms of making us more efficient so we can spend more of the time that matters helping our constituents and being engaged in the national debates that are so important.
When I look at the tunnel plan, I understand the recommendation is “W” and “D” to form that circuit that would go East Block, Centre Block, West Block and then through to Wellington and through to block 2 and block 1. I think that is, practically speaking, an excellent catch-up for Canada's national capital being on par with other world capitals in allowing people to move from one building to the next.
I have two questions.
Are there any provisions in terms of the tunnels—or has that discussion happened yet—around security screening from one to the next? When we're taking visitors through, for example, this is something that will save an enormous amount of time, but I would be interested in knowing what security screening, if any, is contemplated.
Second, we have two office blocks, the Confederation Building and the Justice Building, that have 10 feet between the two of them and then it's only about 100 feet from the Confederation block to Wellington, but I don't see provision for a tunnel network that would join them. It seems to me that's a relatively easy thing to do because of the short distances involved, but it would also add to the efficiency—if we have dozens of office suites in those two buildings—to allow members of Parliament and their visitors to move seamlessly through the West Block to the Centre Block.
Is that contemplated? I see a material handling node, but is there a possibility of extending the tunnel network to incorporate those last two buildings as well?
Thank you for your work.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Since there will be a vote in a few minutes, perhaps we should suspend the meeting. I have a number of questions—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I think it would be preferable to suspend the meeting.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Yes, I have a series of questions I want to ask.
Mr. Brassard's questions around the overall cost, I think, are very relevant.
I want to look at the issue of the tunnels from a cost perspective, in terms of both what the parliamentary precinct would gain and what we would lose if we didn't put the tunnel network in there. My questions, to start, are on the cost of the West Block and the East Block tunnels that we had originally. The West Block tunnel was known as the “bathroom tunnel” because it was lined in yellow tile, as I recall; and the East Block tunnel was far nicer. So there's the cost of those two tunnels being built.
Regarding the existing tunnel network in the parliamentary precinct, Mr. Wright, you mentioned that the West Block renovations actually had provision for a tunnel network, so I am wondering to what extent an existing tunnel network is in place and can be built on from that.
My third question in my first set of questions—and I'll have a second set of questions—is around the absolute necessity for material management and what would be required. If we put aside the issue of pedestrians or MPs or visitors or staff or anyone else using the tunnel network, what is required for purely material management? I know that was certainly an issue around the West Block tunnel project as well.
Those are my first three questions, and I'll have a couple of others after that.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Wright.
If that is the very rough estimate of the figure for the auxiliary costs of building the tunnels, which you mentioned a little bit earlier, can you give us a very rough estimate of the figure for reconfiguring the designs of each of the buildings, applying loading docks for each of those buildings, and then applying the operational cost of no longer having a centralized material management but rather going back to a 20th century kind of thing of each building having its own material supply? Is that in the tens of millions of dollars? Is that $100 million? What would that cost be?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
But there is an undoubted capital cost, and then there are much higher ongoing operational costs. If we're looking at the parliamentary precinct over the next quarter of a century, whatever that cost x is.... If it's $10 million a year, that would easily reach, over 25 years, a quarter of a billion dollars.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
It would be fair to say that the operational costs of not proceeding could well be as high over an extended period of time, and higher in the long term, as of proceeding with this project.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you. That was very helpful.
I think a figure is often daunting until you look at the alternatives. Then you see an equally daunting figure without the efficiency and without the ability to move. It's not a question of buying a winter coat or not. It's really a question of the most effective way of proceeding through the coming years so that operationally we're saving money and we're not having the duplication we've had up until now, where each building is supplied individually.
There's a whole range of downsides to that, as I think we're all aware. It's why every other Parliament in a major industrialized country has moved to a model with a centralized material management system and pedestrian access to buildings through a tunnel network. It just makes sense. The U.S. Congress is the best example of that, I think. The European Parliament is another one.
Can I ask a final question? I have no doubt, in looking at the proposed development, that the W to D, that ring circle, which is very similar to how the U.S. Congress functions very efficiently, is obviously the best model. But what if we went with what I could only call the “cheap” version, which doesn't have the same flow and doesn't provide for the same security access? That would be the A tunnel from West Block right across to the Wellington extended block 2 and block 3 tunnel, and then E from the East Block right across to block 1. Those are short tunnels. I understand that there is an existing tunnel from East Block that already goes to Langevin. I'm not sure whether this is a new tunnel or a tunnel that would build on that existing tunnel that goes across to Langevin.
What would be the cost comparison for that? I certainly understand that in terms of material management you'd lose a whole advantage from the W-D recommendation. Certainly, in terms of security it's much dicier, because people would have to move through the West Block and move through the East Block to access the south of Wellington.
Is there a rough cost differential between the A and E scenarios and the W-D scenario?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much for your replies.
In view of all the information we have just received, I support the recommendation. I think it all makes good sense. If we do not approve this recommendation, which is intended to establish a system for materials management and access to Parliament Hill, it will end up being more expensive. Thank you for answering all these questions.
I support the recommendation.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I agree with Mrs. DeBellefeuille on this. Given our agenda, we will meet next week, it is unavoidable. It is better to determine what we want to discuss today. I agree with Mrs. DeBellefeuille that item 4 and item 9 are important and that we need to determine what we will discuss next week.
Since we will also be holding part of the meeting in camera, we need to establish what would be the best way to proceed. It seems to me that we could set a time today to go into closed session, after we have considered items 4 and 9. I would agree to that. The other important items could be deferred to next week.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I hadn't understood it that way.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I understood that we would start with items 4 and 9 in public, and then move into closed session later.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
In the interest of consensus, Mr. Chair, I will cede on that.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
We do the public first.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I believe we have Mr. d'Entremont here for the third item, and I guess the question would be whether we allow him to get back to his day.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker.
This is an important question. We are, as members of Parliament, really the last line of defence for Canadians who are looking for support in a wide variety of federal issues and in interaction with federal ministries. My riding office in downtown New Westminster is an example of that. We've helped about 20,000 people over the years, but we're finding that there are more and more people who are coming in to seek assistance. As a parliamentarian, I have the job of making sure they get that assistance.
When Kabul fell there was literally a lineup. I'm on Carnarvon Street in downtown New Westminster. There was a lineup right under the SkyTrain station, and the lineup went around the block and into the area where the SkyTrain station is. The need is very big, but I've certainly found that with the high cost of rent, I'm not able to allocate as much of my budget to making sure that we're actually taking care of the increasing caseloads we're seeing.
I think this proposal helps to address that in part, but I look to the B.C. model. For B.C. members of the legislative assembly, the budget is actually taken out of their members' office budget. It is applied centrally. There are criteria, according to which, for each of the offices there are a certain set number of square metres; one has to make sure it's an accessible office; one has to make sure it has certain limitations in terms of visibility. All of that is set, and so all the members of the B.C. Legislative Assembly have basically the same criteria. It's a system that works extremely well. It means that those MLAs in high-rent districts aren't penalized in providing supports to their constituents compared to MLAs who live in communities where there is much, much lower rent.
My question to Mr. St George and Mr. Fernandez is to what extent they have examined the B.C. model. I would suggest, in terms of the recommendations, that part of those be to mandate the administration to look at the B.C. model and to make recommendations at a future Board of Internal Economy so that we can look at the best practice, which to my mind is, really, the one in B.C., in terms of ensuring that members' office budgets really go to providing services and not to the increasing amount of rent.
Were you able to look at the B.C. model? Is it appropriate that you'd come back with recommendations at a future meeting?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you. So you would be amenable to that.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to suggest that we add to the instructions to the administration that they come back at a future meeting with recommendations based on best practices. Perhaps there are other jurisdictions that have taken a similar approach, but the B.C. model seems to me to have really appropriate ramifications for how we structure our work at the local level.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mrs. DeBellefeuille summed up the proposal well.
I would also like to thank the finance team for this.
I think the decision will lead to better quality services for the public. That's basically what the work of parliamentarians is all about.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I'd also like to praise Ms. Daigle.
Ms. Daigle, thank you for your work. I'd also like to congratulate you on your promotion. I know that you will continue to contribute to democratic and parliamentary life. I wanted to thank you very much.
I wanted to ask you a question about the budget. It seems to me that several MPs didn't take advantage of the amounts offered. Indeed, 111 out of 338 MPs were able to take advantage of the budget. A total of $150,000 was used. The average expenditure is between $1,300 and $1,400, which is only a third of the budget allocated to each MP. In my opinion, this budget for training is extremely important.
Having a budget is one thing, but having MPs use it to improve employee training is another.
What can we do to get MPs to use this budget? It makes sense to me that they use these funds.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
That would have been really important.
In my opinion and in the opinion of the people who work in my office, the idea of contributing to the training of our employees was successful. Employees wanted to take the training, and they used the budget allocated to it.
In my view, this is a success, but we need to know what the next steps will be before we can assess whether the pilot is truly a success. It would be important to make this a permanent project.
How do you see the next steps for this pilot project? If this is seen as a success, what steps would be needed to make this pilot project a permanent one?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to get a sense of when we will be reviewing this program. I know that Madame Daigle said it would be before the end of the pilot project, but it seems to me that it's possible, perhaps, to have an interim evaluation even prior to that, and perhaps have the Board of Internal Economy decide, even before the end of the program, whether we feel that the pilot program has been a success.
I wouldn't want to put all of that consideration off into 2023. I think it is something we could examine as early as this fall.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I was going to suggest before the end of the year.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Aubé, when will the report go out to the members of the Board of Internal Economy?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mrs. DeBellefeuille asked some important questions. As you know, we have been discussing the issue for weeks. A pilot project will be conducted in the next few months.
The interpreters are performing a colossal task, one of tremendous value. Every effort needs to be made to ensure their health and safety in the workplace. All of us on the Board of Internal Economy believe that. This information could be crucial. If next Thursday is our last official meeting for a while, we need to be able to discuss this issue.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Item 3 should be the first item on the agenda for Thursday's meeting. There will be some discussions in the coming days.
There is also the issue of the interpreters.
I think we already have enough on our plate for next week's meeting.
I propose that we begin with the LTVP working group for the parliamentary precinct and the rehabilitation of Centre Block.
I think Mrs. DeBellefeuille also suggested that we obtain a report on security incidents and on the opinion sent to members last week.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you for the information you have provided, Ms. Laframboise.
The training sessions are very important. I am pleased to know that all members of Parliament have participated. This is important if we are to change unhealthy behaviour on Parliament Hill. It is a very positive thing.
I agree with Mr. Brassard's concern that some questions should be asked in camera rather than in a public meeting.
In terms of the multiple complaints that were filed last year, I am surprised that they increased compared with 2020-2021, when there were only two. There were eight complaints filed in 2021-2022.
Are multiple complaints related to one person or are they complaints about eight people?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Ms. Laframboise.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
Thanks for the report.
I support the recommendations. In the last week, 260 Canadians died from COVID-related causes. I know that there is a tendency to want to turn the page and just pretend that COVID isn't out there, but it is killing Canadians every day still, as we know, and the reality is that there are new variants that may be problematic as well and may lead, unfortunately, to an increase in that death toll.
The idea of wearing masks is something that I think we have all agreed to. The idea that we would continue some of the other COVID financial measures makes sense as well. Being able to provide information in our constituencies is fundamentally important, and providing support for donations to charities that have been working to ensure that in our communities the people who have been impacted by COVID.... It's not just the virus. It's the fact that so many people have suffered economic dislocation as a result as well.
All of those things seem to be smart measures to take, not only with the current situation, where we continue to lose Canadians, but also in anticipation of other measures that we may have to take. I support the recommendations, and I believe we have to continue to be prudent as we work through the coming weeks and months. The idea that this is simply over is not true. Prudent public health measures and making sure that our constituents are aware both of programs that may emerge and of issues related to COVID in our constituency just makes good common sense.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
It's not a question, but more a comment. I think Mr. Brassard raised an important issue. In terms of test kits, I would share with you, Mr. Speaker, that for my mother, because she is in a long-term care facility, that long-term care facility provides test kits so my tests take place as a result of the facility providing the free test kits.
I think Mr. St George is absolutely right that a lot of members of Parliament are in a similar situation, where they're receiving test kits from other sources, but this shouldn't mean that we cut off the ability to get those test kits through MOBs for some members of Parliament.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I will say, in my turn, that it is great to see you so hale and hearty and to have you back with us.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
It's good to see you back. It's good to see you doing so well.
My question is about the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. I am assuming that this takes into consideration the extension of the deadline for reporting back from the special committee, but I want to confirm that.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
In my view, the first option is probably the best, as it would ensure that all recognized parliamentary groups in the Senate are represented. If we want the council to be effective, it is better to have all the recognized parties around the table. I would therefore favour the first option, although I am aware that this could change if the composition of the Senate or the House of Commons changes.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I quite agree. We have a number of important issues to discuss today, and this one is less important, in my view.
If we start from the principle that all parliamentary groups should be represented, including all those in the Senate, and if we adhere to the 70‑30 ratio, it seems to me that the most relevant recommendation is the second option. I will go along with that if we can get a consensus on it. If there is no consensus, I would find it unfortunate if this topic were deferred to the next meeting.
Listening to everyone, I get the impression that two principles need to be brought together. The only option that encompasses both of those principles, the 70-30 ratio and the representation of all parliamentary groups, including the Senate, is the second one.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Séguin, thank you for your presentation.
My first question has to do with workplace injuries. How many cases of auditory injury have been reported by the interpreters?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes, thank you. It answers the question, but the numbers are different from the ones the union provided.
The union indicated that 68 injuries resulted in time off work. I would like to touch on that for a moment, because it's extremely important and I know you take it seriously as well.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Before I became an MP, I worked with deaf and hard‑of‑hearing people. During the recent occupation in Ottawa, an entire downtown population were exposed to a noise level that must have caused permanent injury.
It's the same thing here when we talk about injuries requiring interpreters to take sick leave to recuperate. Often, these injuries can cause permanent hearing loss. For that reason, I'd like to know whether the number of interpreters who have suffered permanent hearing loss is recorded.
In addition, do they undergo periodic hearing tests, as is usually done in workplaces with variable or high noise levels? Has that process already been put in place on Parliament Hill?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay.
Another problem that has already been raised by the union is acoustic trauma. I understand what you're saying, but I think it would be important for the committee to hear from union representatives, to ensure that that we're on the same wavelength. Reducing acoustic trauma is extremely important, since it will help prevent injuries.
That said, I'm concerned about the number of injuries at work. We all know that the interpreters work hard and are essential to our work. I'm concerned about the number of injuries. I have enough experience to know that this can contribute to permanent injuries.
Some people have indicated that it's the sound system used by the interpreters that is causing these injuries. Do you agree with that? Are you looking for other ways of conveying the information so that interpreters can do their job without getting injured?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd just like to ask one last question. I didn't mean to filibuster, but the health and safety of House employees are an important issue.
Did you recommend that the House Administration change the House audiovisual system? Is the House Administration looking at alternatives to the audiovisual system?
The union had said that this problem was the source of the workplace injuries.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Chair, I'm delighted to answer this question, because this is fundamentally important. Something that I think people often try to simply brush aside is the issue of permanent hearing loss that comes from excessive levels of noise that is unprotected—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
—and that's certainly what we saw over the last three weeks.
I'm answering your question, Mr. Brassard.
What we would need to do is see each of the individual residents of Ottawa who have gone in and seen their audiologist and those who have yet to see their audiologist to see the tracing of their hearing previous to the occupation and then post-occupation.
There is no doubt that the levels of sound reached over 100 decibels, sometimes as high as 120 decibels. That is enough to cause permanent hearing loss within minutes. To me, this is something that was profoundly disturbing, and it surprised me that certain members of Parliament didn't understand the importance of actually acting and that the hearing loss the people of Ottawa were experiencing was doubted.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Quite the contrary, Mr. Brassard, quite the contrary.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have always seen the Board of Internal Economy as a non-partisan forum, where we are not repeating debates we have already held in the House and where we should always focus on the House administration and the best way to apply the decisions made by the House of Commons. So I disagree with certain comments, which seem more appropriate in the House then at the Board of Internal Economy, which is non-partisan.
That said, could you confirm that a study has indeed been carried out by the National Research Council of Canada on the issue of interpreters and sound quality in the House of Commons?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
Unless I am mistaken, one of the study's recommendations was along the lines of what I said earlier, that the audiovisual system must be improved. Is that right?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I'm reading from the report, which says:
This demonstrates that the AV system, in its present set-up configuration, used for ZOOM videoconferencing in the Committee Room 425 is non-ISO 20109 compliant.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, I think that we should also invite the union to one of the upcoming Board of Internal Economy meetings.
All my questions have been answered. However, I'm still a little concerned that the information from the union differs somewhat from the information provided here. I think that it would be good to clarify things with the union at one of the upcoming Board of Internal Economy meetings.
Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I didn't really understand Mrs. DeBellefeuille's proposal. Does she want all these components to end by March 29?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
However, I would agree if her proposal were added to the proposal made earlier. If this advertising component were adopted in addition to the extension of all policies until June 30, I would agree with both these measures. However, I wouldn't agree with the adoption of this advertising proposal unless we were to adopt the other components suggested by the House administration.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Yes, except that I wouldn't agree with her proposal unless the other measures were extended until June 30, except for the advertising measure, which would end earlier because of the fiscal year. I would agree with the adoption of these two measures together, but not with the adoption of one without the other.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
You're right, Mrs. DeBellefeuille. Thank you.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I move that we begin the meeting in camera in order to discuss these matters.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I also thank Ms. DeBellefeuille for raising these issues.
In fact, these are questions of respect for the employees of the House. The interpreters do a magnificent job, often in difficult situations in this time of pandemic, when we often have to work virtually. The least we can do is to ensure that all interpreters are treated well—they deserve it—and that occupational health and safety measures are respected.
The idea of having the same rules at committees and in the House seems the least we can do. We need to protect the interpreters' workplace to limit workplace accidents.
Before I was a member of Parliament, I ran a social enterprise that provided services to the hearing impaired in British Columbia. My wife, Limei, is an audiologist. So I know how it can cause permanent injury to interpreters if they don't have the proper equipment to protect their ears. This is serious.
I am disappointed that some members, even after two years of working in virtual mode, have not yet realized that they absolutely must use official headsets, which protect interpreters and improve the sound. I am also disappointed that the committee chairs do not understand that the same conditions must apply to all witnesses.
I think this is a good plan of action, which we will have to come back to in a few weeks if we find that we don't have the co‑operation of the committee chairs. On the other hand, we could agree now with the whips of all parties that if people are not using the official equipment to work virtually on Zoom, they cannot speak in committee. That way, I don't think any member will continue to disrespect our interpreters. So this condition should be implemented immediately, as it is common sense.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I move that, today only, we meet in camera before the public portion of the meeting, which will be televised and available to the public. I think that's the best way to structure our meeting today.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have questions about appendix C, but if the presentation isn't over, I will wait until such time.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With the omicron variant taking its toll throughout the country, I'm wondering about the impact the changes we've been seeing in recent days will have if they persist in 2022. Obviously, these estimates were prepared before the fifth wave hit. What impact will the current situation have on the budget?
I'm particularly interested because we saw with the first wave back in 2020-21 that there was a significant impact on budgets. The budget going into the next fiscal year, unfortunately, looks likely to be impacted. We're not out of the woods by any means. In fact, we seem to be going backward with the omicron variant.
What would the financial impact be? With finances already booked, given the potential over the next six months that we will continue to be in the situation we are in now, what would the impact be on the budget?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Do we know how much of the funding initially set aside for committee and witness travel has gone unused since the beginning of the pandemic? I know the Board of Internal Economy has been provided with those figures in the past.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
What is the travel budget? How much money is spent on travel in a regular year?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I realize that, but in a regular year, how much is budgeted for witness travel?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Very well. I'm going to rephrase my question to get at the answer. This feels a bit like being in question period.
In the year before the pandemic, how much was spent overall on witness travel so that people could appear before committees in Ottawa?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
That wasn't what I asked.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
I understand what you're saying about the $4 million and the lack of witness-related expenditures. However—
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
To be honest, I didn't mean for my question to be this complicated. I completely understand that this is not a budget item in and of itself, but that it comes out of the overall $4‑million budget. I simply want to know how much was spent on witness travel annually before the pandemic.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you. That's what I wanted to know.
I fully understand that it isn't the same budget. Nevertheless, when I look at these amounts, which seem quite low, I think it's important to budget for these new expenditures to ensure proper follow-up for committees. Therefore, I fully support the recommendation.
In addition, over time, this could change how we work in committee on a number of fronts. I'll give you two examples. First, the introduction of some key tools has, of course, brought down travel costs. Second, for someone like me, who comes from British Columbia, or for any witness who is asked to appear before a committee, the benefit of not having to spend three days in Ottawa is obvious.
For all of those reasons and in light of everything that is expected of committees and of staff in terms of delivering quality service—as Mrs. DeBellefeuille so rightly pointed out—I think these amounts are warranted.
The last point I wanted to make was in terms of how the administration has responded to the challenge of this virtual Parliament. Like many members of Parliament, I think, I've been remarkably impressed by how quickly we were able to put into place tools that we've never used before as parliamentarians.
Even today, the vote app that is being put into place is going to make a big difference in terms of our effectiveness in voting. Hopefully, everything works well today. Certainly, it makes our work much more efficient. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time voting, it's a quicker way of expressing the will of our constituents, to vote and to move on.
To see, after the passage of the motion on the hybrid Parliament, all of the personnel and the administration lined up to work all night to make sure that the next morning, after our vote on Thursday, the provisions for the hybrid Parliament were set up and ready to go I think is a remarkable achievement.
I see these amounts as justified, but I also wanted to pay tribute to what has been a very strong and effective reaction from the administration in a very difficult period to keep our parliamentary functions continuing and to put in place new tools that have allowed us to work through this pandemic in as efficient and effective a way as possible.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I would like to welcome the new members to the Board of Internal Economy.
I echo Mrs. DeBellefeuille's comments. I am also wondering whether 124 interpreters are enough. The number does not seem sufficient to meet the needs of all the committees that are going to meet, given the requirements. I fully support the hybrid Parliament, but things have to be planned. Given the requirements in the House and at committees, the number does not seem sufficient to me. I would like to see it justified.
Mrs. DeBellefeuille asked another good question: we need to know whether those interpreters are working from English to French or from French to English, because the requirements are different. If we do not have enough interpreters working from English to French, for example, we need to know, because it would be a problem that we would have to correct.
I understand that the hybrid Parliament provides a number of advantages in terms of the health and safety of the workers on Parliament Hill. However, I also see a weakness, given the requirements for interpreters. I would like us to have a comprehensive report on the matter. But I would also like the House Administration to invest more to ensure that the interpreters have a good working environment in terms of health and safety and to solve the difficulties they encountered in the first version of the hybrid Parliament. They would then be able to continue the excellent work they do without having to face those difficulties.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I have no doubt that establishing a new committee requires additional human resources. However, in these figures, I do not see an answer to the question about interpreters that we have been discussing.
Am I correct that this budget proposal does not include money for interpreters?
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you for the answer.
The budget that we are looking at right now is a partial budget, in the sense that we are adding one committee and we know the services that will be provided to that committee. But we have not yet really had the opportunity to see all the consequences that result from a hybrid Parliament at the same time, including this new committee and other new committees that could be added if Parliament so decides.
It seems to me that approving this budget proposal is potentially just a first step. It is really important for us to have a discussion about the consequences that all the decisions we make as a Parliament will have on the work of the interpreters. It seems to me that it would be important to have those figures at hand so that we can discuss the issue. In that way, we would be able to see whether the 124 interpreters are sufficient to meet all the requests from an in-person Parliament, a virtual Parliament, all the committees we establish, the new committees and potentially other special committees that may be created in the coming months. We have to examine what the consequences will be on the work of the interpreters as we establish each of those new committees.
We can make decisions, but we have to know what their consequences will be. It concerns me a little that I do not know whether we really have established a suitable environment for the interpreters. We are a bilingual Parliament, which is very rare around the world. Furthermore, we have a Parliament with additional requirements. Given that situation, the interpreters are doing an extraordinary job.
It seems to me that, as decision-makers, we should have all that information in front of us before we decide whether these budget requests really do meet the needs of Parliament, especially the requirements for interpretation. It has already been established that those requirements present a difficulty, a challenge, that we have to face.
Personally, I would be ready to approve this first request, but with the condition that we would come back to this discussion on the interpreters. Then we can properly identify all the consequences that establishing this new committee would have on the extraordinary interpretation services provided to the House of Commons, and all the other factors at play.
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?
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.
Results: 1 - 84 of 84

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data