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Results: 1 - 15 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.
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