BOIE
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 1 - 57 of 57
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
I appreciate your coming back with a bit more detail and with some revised proposals. That's appreciated. What I think I'm hearing here is that currently some of the essentially temporary needs we're facing are being managed with some amount of overtime and some casual staff. That's fair. If I'm understanding that right, how are those resources being covered now? What budgets are those coming from?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess the challenge I see here is that we are dealing with a temporary situation, a pandemic situation. I know you're indicating that you feel there are ongoing needs. I just find it hard to picture how we're able to really fully and properly assess those at this point, because we are in fact managing in a temporary situation.
There have been, and probably will continue to be, for the next little while, resources that are being reallocated, as we're hearing and as we're discussing right now. As an example, committees aren't travelling, so there are resources available because that is not happening, and parliamentary associations aren't as active or active at all. There are ways to reallocate.
I'm not looking to try to make things difficult, but I'm really struggling to see how we can make proper decisions about how we move forward when we're in the middle of an emergency situation and dealing with a different-from-normal scenario.
I was obviously happy to approve the very clear ongoing needs that we approved last week. I still struggle, though, to make a decision about how we move forward when we don't actually know what moving forward is fully going to look like. I do appreciate that you've indicated that if new committees are set up and if situations and needs change as a result of that, you could come back to the board. I would certainly encourage that to happen if and when that needs to happen for those specific circumstances, but I struggle with making a decision when we're....
As it stands now, we're sort of looking at June as the end date for some of these hybrid situations and things. There's a travel ban on until the end of March, so we're still in a situation of having three to six months of trying to manage through something. I would much prefer to see us evaluate this and determine the needs going forward at the end of those six months, when things, we all hope, go back to normal. Maybe then we can understand fully what “normal” is going to look like going forward.
That would be my suggestion. I think this is something we should defer until the temporary measures are lifted.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess I can appreciate that. I think we all hope that's where we're headed, and very soon. I just think it's difficult to judge based on the last few weeks, because obviously we've now put in place new hybrid provisions for all the functions that we perform as parliamentarians. We don't fully know exactly what the usage of those is going to be. We don't know what percentage of committees on average will be in person and what percentage will be virtual. We don't know the same for the House or for voting and things like that. I know those things aren't necessarily what we're talking about, but I think all these things do tie together to some degree.
Again, I struggle with the idea of making a decision about something without knowing all the information, and I don't think we do right now. My suggestion would be that when we do have that information, we come back and have another look at this. I know that this is asking for three or maybe six months of managing through, but we have obviously approved some additional resources, which I think will help. We can get those in place and utilize those.
I'm of the belief that I would rather have all the information when we come back and look at this in three months or six months, when we're in a position to know exactly what things look like.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have a point of order.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
The translation doesn't appear to be coming through. I'm not sure if the microphone is off in the translation booth or what, but it doesn't seem to be coming through.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
First, I'll maybe just address those last comments. At the end of the day, if the decisions made by the House of Commons lead to there being additional committee needs in this place, then obviously, as I indicated earlier, we need to look at the resources that are there. What we're talking about is our current situation, not what the situation could be in the future. Should that happen, well, then, we have an opportunity to address that. I do want to address the current situation.
As I was saying earlier, I feel like, if we want to look at what our future needs are, we need to do it in a place where we know all the information about what our future needs are. Right now, when we're dealing with temporary provisions, I feel like it's difficult to properly assess that. For me to make a decision about a permanent change, I want to know what that's going to look like. I think three to six months from now, we're all hoping we're going to be in a place where we're better able to do that.
Having said that, with the current situation being what it is with hybrid committees, we saw in the last session of Parliament the limitations of the schedule that goes with virtual, at that time, and at this point hybrid committee meetings. To use one example of many, the procedure and House affairs committee had a meeting that went on in two-hour or sometimes slightly longer chunks for weeks because one party was looking to avoid a specific outcome. That lack of resources was used strategically by the government to try to avoid a certain outcome.
I guess if I'm going to look at a supplementary proposal rather than look at what our needs will be in three to six months, I need to look at it and evaluate it based on what kinds of outcomes it produces now. What I want to hear is this: Should these resources be approved, would that minimize or reduce or preferably even eliminate the ability for the resource excuse to be used strategically by any political party to try to avoid any specific outcome? In other words, can the resources provide for extended hours of sitting of meetings and things like that so that we can actually address things and not see resources be used strategically by political parties?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I appreciate that statement. That's an important assurance. However, I'll ask for a bit more detail on that, if I can.
Obviously, you've analyzed this and you've looked at the needs. I'm certain that you would be able to tell us what you expect the outcomes to be of the new resources. On that specific point, can you give us an indication of what exactly that would look like? In other words, would that allow meetings to carry on?
Maybe give us a bit of an idea of what the limitations would be on that and what they wouldn't be. Knowing that it will be improved is great, but what does improvement look like? Can you give us some sense of that?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Sorry. Okay, sure. I have a follow-up question, but please go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'll just follow up on that, probably more so to Mr. Patrice, but Mr. Robert, you're welcome to add if there is anything to add, as are you, Mr. McDonald.
I do understand that the challenges aren't all about human resources. Some of the challengers are about room availability, and I understand that. At least I believe that's the case, that some of it is around room availability and things. I understand that we are limited, for example, by how many qualified interpreters are available, and I hear the point you're making that the more committees there are, the harder that is.
I get that, but let's operate on the current situation and where we're at. Can you give me a bit of a sense, concretely, as to what in the new resources that are being requested today will enable that? I understand the challenges around room allocations and things like that, as well as interpretation and qualified interpreters being available. I know that's important, but I need to get a sense of what exactly in this strategic use of the situation will mitigate meetings being prevented or eliminated or reduced. Can you give me a couple of concrete examples of how these new positions or other things that we are being asked for could help mitigate that?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I don't want to interrupt, but I'm going to, because I thought that in last week's meeting the three positions we approved were specifically for that. Was that not the case?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have one last question, I hope, with regard to the blocks we're dealing with now. That's what we're talking about in the current environment, at least until the end of June. We have the six committee blocks. That's our maxed-out situation. I suppose it might be less of an issue when it's the last committee of the day—you might be able to carry on a bit more easily—but for the earlier committees, it's a bit more of a challenge.
Would these new resources, for example, add capabilities? Say one of those six committees had to carry on and there were other meetings coming after. Would this potentially enable one of those committees to carry on beyond its time if it needed to get to an outcome on whatever specific issue it was dealing with? If I could see that there's the ability for that, for example, or maybe two of them could carry on.... Could we get some sense of what that would mean in concrete terms?
I know that it may be hard to predict exactly, but I need some kind of a sense. I can see a very important outcome there, if that's the case.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Caveats aside—and I understand there are caveats—what you're telling me is that you believe there should be the ability to see meetings being extended, where possible, in order to avoid strategic use of resources as a reason not to arrive at an outcome in a meeting. You're of the belief that this should enable us to see some improvement in avoiding that as a strategic tool being used. Is that fair?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
To be clear, what we're doing is approving the resources on a temporary basis, with a review in one year.
An hon. member: Yes.
Mr. Blake Richards: Okay.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
This is in relation to I think the July meeting we had. With regard to the first item on the agenda—which might have been the only item on the agenda—in fact, I made the request for an external review of the situation with Administration. I had asked that it be recorded in the minutes that I had requested an external review. I don't see that reflected in the minutes.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker.
I have a couple of questions.
In the report, it indicates that meetings have to “be scheduled for a maximum two-hour duration.” That's based on the challenges with resources; but then it also says that “Current capacity would be able to accommodate”, potentially, “additional evening committee meetings.” It almost seems, on the surface at least, that maybe there's an incongruity between those two comments. If we can only do a maximum of two hours, but we maybe do have additional time available in the evenings, it almost seems like we're maybe saying that we have to cut it off after two hours when we might have available time.
Can I get some comments on that?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. I guess what I'm sort of hearing there, to some degree, is that when we're talking about maybe the morning meetings, they end up bumping into the afternoon ones, but in the afternoon there may be a possibility of extending meetings where needed. Is that what I'm hearing?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Obviously, that can't always be the case, but you do your best to accommodate that, I assume.
Mr. Ian McDonald: Yes.
Mr. Blake Richards: Okay.
I have a couple of other quick questions.
Obviously, now that it's a hybrid situation with committees, MPs have the ability to choose to be there in person or to attend virtually. I would assume—actually, I think you noted it in the report—that resources are less strained when people are there in person. But now we're in a situation where some will be and some won't be, potentially.
Is that on a sliding scale? If half of the MPs attend, as compared with only one MP who attends in person, or if 11 of the 12 attend in person, are there different strains on resources? Or is it a situation where, if one person is there virtually, there would be the same strain on resources?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. So if I were to try to just put it really short and sweet in a broad statement, the more in-person participation there is, the less strain there is on the interpreters and on the resources. Is that fair?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
In that scenario, if more MPs—and witnesses, I suppose, if that were possible—chose to attend in person, it might allow less strain on resources, and possibly, then, we could actually have ability not to keep meetings shorter. Would that be fair to say?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. I appreciate that. It sounds like the more who can attend in person, the better, then.
I have a last question in that same vein. With regard to witnesses, as it stands now, we haven't had witnesses attending in person. I think it's January 31 or somewhere near the end of January that the rule about not allowing visitors is up for renewal again.
I'm wondering about the idea, in the submission for renewal, of including permission for committee witnesses to be able to access the precinct so that we can, where possible, bring up those numbers in person and have less strain on resources. Is that something that's being contemplated?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay, thanks.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker.
With the report we received for our previous item, the limit we were given was 54 blocks. I'm wondering if this budget increase will help to improve that number at all.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I understand that three of the eight positions that are being asked for would be to support that new committee. That's completely understood and it makes sense. If the other five do not increase the delivery of what's received, what would the implications then be if we were not to approve that? In my mind, if additional resources were provided, that should mean more service should be available.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Could I ask for a bit more specificity on that?
What are some of the services that haven't been provided that would be provided with the three new positions?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
Sir, I'm still not sure I'm clear on this.
What are the specific services? I'm not trying to be difficult, but we're asked to provide resources, and I'm not clear in understanding what they're for.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
On that, maybe I could just ask, if these people were repurposed, what the impacts were. What is the measure? Can you give us some metrics or indication of what impacts the reallocation would have had? I guess I personally didn't experience that. When I had issues, they were always addressed quite quickly. Perhaps there were impacts that I didn't see, but what were they?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks. I appreciate the clarity on that.
I have one last question. One of the things I note in the report that was supporting data for the request was the number of committee reports that have been written. There was an increase in those.
It's always been my understanding that it's primarily the Library of Parliament that supports that. What is the House staff role in writing and bringing support—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I guess I had some similar thoughts and concerns regarding the proposal. I certainly understand the resourcing need that has been suggested for the new standing committee that has been set up; there's a suggestion that we would need three new positions to support that. I'm certainly comfortable supporting those at this point. I'm not convinced, personally, that I've heard enough of a case for the other five permanent positions that are being suggested here.
I would suggest that there are probably a couple of opportunities to deal with what sound like they would be temporary needs, hopefully, during the course of a pandemic. One suggestion I could make would be that travel budgets are not being used. Could those be reallocated to meet some of these resource needs, or could we ask that the administration bring back to us a proposal that would show the costs on a temporary basis until June 23, when we expect the hybrid provisions to expire? Could we have one or both of those options brought back to us? I certainly would be more comfortable looking at approving that, but I'm just not convinced of the need on a permanent basis beyond the three for the new science committee.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm sorry. I'll just interrupt you for a second. I don't want to indicate that I don't appreciate the work that's been put into the proposal. I don't want to indicate that I don't.... It's certainly not to cast any doubt on any of that, but I did hear a lot of conversation about the fact that we were reallocating resources because members weren't here and things like that. It certainly sounded pandemic-related. I don't mean to cast any doubt on anything that was said or suggested, but, at the same time, we do have to look at value for the resources. If we can find a way to fill some of the needs that we all hope will be temporary, that would be best.
I wanted to clarify that. I don't want to leave the impression that I'm casting any doubt on anything that was presented to us.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
What I was suggesting was that we see a revised proposal.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Having said that, I will offer, as I did earlier, if it is something you can do and if it's easy for you on the spot to tell us if there's a way we can split it out, that I would be comfortable with that. Maybe you need to go back and approve the three for the additional committee. If that can be done on the spot, I'd be comfortable with that, but otherwise we'd come back with the whole thing.
What's easier for you?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Certainly, I concur with many of the statements made by others and with how important it is to ensure that everyone in this place feels completely safe. I concur that, where there are any allegations that come forward, they be taken incredibly seriously and that there be proper processes in place to make sure that happens. That's a critically important part of any workplace, including this one, without a doubt.
I note, as others have, that we do have two items on our agenda today. This one is in public, which is a more general review. Then there's one that is more specific to the case that precipitated both of these items, which will be in camera. I have some questions now, but they are general in nature in order to help better understand the policy and determine comfort with the conclusion that you have arrived at in relation to the policy and its adequacy.
One of the things that arises for me from this is around workplace assessments. When a workplace assessment is conducted, who participates in that?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
There is a bit of leeway in terms of who's involved.
What about employees who are on medical leave? Could they participate in an assessment?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
—the policy in place for the particular party. Is that what I'm hearing?
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?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
I think those are all the questions I have for now.
Thanks.
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 Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
No. I'm confident that you'll find—
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?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, much as you are coming to us to report your external audit—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Ordinarily, you would suggest that the internal audit would be presented to the same board or body.
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—
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I believe I am, yes.
Voices: Oh, oh!
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?
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your indulgence.
Results: 1 - 57 of 57

Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data