Committee
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Consult the user guide
For assistance, please contact us
Add search criteria
Results: 361 - 420 of 119369
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
I understand.
In this case, presumably, because there were multiple flight segments, and different countries and different caterers that had to be engaged—because the airports had monopolies...without those caterers—did anybody look at the numbers and reject the initial proposal from the caterer and go back and negotiate? Were there negotiations involved, or did these flight segments always accept the first price provided by the caterer?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:31
There is very little—actually no—negotiation in these cases, unfortunately, unless there is more than one caterer available to us, in which case we can then look to see which one is the best value for money, but, as described, the vast majority of them are single providers who then tell us the price, and there's no negotiation.
I would say that it's a little bit different from what you might see with airlines that come into the same locations all the time. They have established contracts that get them the best value for money.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
That's understood.
Does anybody look at the price and say, “Oh my God, this is an astronomically high price for this small number of meals. Maybe we should look to the caterer and ask if, instead of ordering chicken, we should be ordering fish in this location because it's much cheaper”? Is there any negotiation on that part, maybe by Global Affairs or anyone else?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:32
This is something that we need to work on with GAC protocol, specifically, how we can further reduce costs as we move forward. There is opportunity to do that, but I'll defer to my colleague as to how the menu selection is determined. There are opportunities, I believe, to save money.
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:32
If the chair permits, I'll maybe jump in and just explain. It gives me an opportunity to outline the process, because people clearly have interest in understanding how those menus are arrived at.
In collaboration with the RCAF, we establish protocol once a visit has been approved and is being planned. We establish a meal plan for the entire visit. That determines how many meals or snacks will be offered during the various legs, based on the length of flights, the time of day and complementarity with the program. When we arrive, are we being fed at an event or are we keeping staff in a flight for eight and a half hours? We have an obligation as an employer to feed them. Are we living up to standard commercial airline practices for flights of similar durations?
The RCAF then works with their catering suppliers to provide available menus that would meet those types of meals. We don't send requests of what we must eat on this flight or what we must eat on that flight. We then review those. We look for things like redundancies, and we confirm whether the program has changed in the interim, whether those are still the meals that we require.
By then, we perhaps have a bit more information on our delegation passengers. We might know about dietary restrictions or some specific meals that we need to supply. Over the period of 32 hours of flights, six legs and eight meals, we try to provide some kind of variety for our passengers, but that's the extent of the—
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Wheeler.
I apologize for interrupting, but perhaps, as the questions come out, you might be able to add more as we go along here. I appreciate that.
We now go to Ms. Vignola for six minutes.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank the witnesses that are here with us today to answer our questions.
All three of you mentioned, at the start of your presentation and before the meeting started, how much the amounts spent on these meals and the number of meals had been an unsettling surprise.
Mr. Housefather spoke of $267 per meal. I arrived at a total of $349 per meal. It depends, as it always does, on the way you calculate the total amount divided by the number of persons. Nonetheless, you will agree that $267 per head, whether it be lunch or dinner, is often the total amount that a family would spend for a week's worth of groceries.
This has raised questions and upset a lot of people, including me. I have used food banks over the course of my life, and to learn that five snacks cost $80,000 is a morsel that is difficult to swallow. I've just gotten off a plane and I doubt that the two Oreo cookies that I received cost the same. We are not talking about the same kind of flight, of course. I am not a VIP, I'm an ordinary person.
You do understand that this is raising serious questions, not anger, in people's minds and has touched upon their values.
Lieutenant-General Kenny, a while ago, you stated that it would not be possible to know what parts of the meal costs were not linked to the food, because the caterer invoiced the total amount. That is what I understood. If we ask you to break down the $80,000 to include management, meal delivery, storage, waste disposal and airport fees, administrative fees, security costs and taxes, you would not be able to do so. Is that correct?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:37
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the member for her question.
There are invoices that indicate the amount billed for food or other items, such as taxes, and that provide more detail, but other invoices are not at all detailed.
I know that these flights cost a lot of money,
for the catering specifically.
That's why we're committed to making sure that we continue to look at how we can best achieve what we're doing, which is providing a safe standard of food to those who are on our flights while ensuring we're doing so at the best price possible, recognizing that we go to areas where the cost of living is quite high in comparison to Canada, and therefore the prices are much higher than we potentially would see here in Canada.
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
Would it be possible to get a copy of the invoices sent for these meals by the various caterers?
You indicated that some caterers were not able to provide itemized invoices, whereas others were. Would it be possible to send us the invoices?
What we really want is to understand. As my colleague has said previously, if in Qatar things cost an arm and a leg, at least we would know and we could plan accordingly. I know that it is not always possible to plan meals well in advance, because aircraft aren't usually equipped with refrigeration systems. I'm not asking VIPs to eat Spam and mustard or peanut butter and banana sandwiches for five days. That is not what I am calling for here.
If, for example, things cost two and a half as much in Qatar than in London or in Berlin, would it be possible to plan for cold meals that can be brought on board? Is that feasible? Would that be appropriate for the diplomatic sector? I ask the question because diplomacy does not figure in my political mandate.
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:39
Thank you for the question.
We all agree that there are certain problematic issues connected with the flights. This is what we have observed. That is why we set up a working group that will review the processes and find answers to the following questions: how is it that these high costs were approved in certain cases? What were the factors at play? What were the expectations on behalf of the client that could have been made clear to our colleagues?
View Julie Vignola Profile
BQ (QC)
This isn't the first time that costs have made the news. Why didn't we seek to get answers about the process 10 or 15 years ago? We have been hearing about trip expenditures for the governors general for a long time.
Your words are reassuring, but why wasn't this done before?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:40
Mr. Chair, I thank the member for her question.
Over the years, we have changed the way we're ordering our catering services, specifically with the amount we order for the flights. Beyond working with Global Affairs Canada protocols to determine the type of menu selections—chicken, beef or vegetarian, as an example—and the numbers of each one, we also work to make sure we provide enough to cover the passengers who are on board and a bit of a contingency.
That contingency specifically has been reduced drastically over the years, most recently in 2022, but also in 2019. In 2019, we reduced the number of meals we were buying. We did a further reduction in June 2022, following this flight, on the number of meals we were buying, which does significantly reduce the cost overall for the catering provided on an aircraft.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, General.
We'll now go to Mr. Johns for six minutes.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
It's great to be back and to see you all, colleagues. I hope you had a wonderful summer. It's nice to be back on the unceded lands of the Anishinabe and Algonquin people.
I want to thank our guests for being here today and for their service.
I also want to thank Ms. Vignola for putting forth this motion, which we strongly supported.
We've seen the rising cost of living where many Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. Food costs are going up. We have just seen a 41-year high in inflation and 10.8% rise in food costs. Against this backdrop, it's understandable why many Canadians were concerned. They are not concerned; they are actually outraged when they hear about the in-flight catering expenses on this trip for the Governor General's March 2022 visit and tour of the Middle East.
The shockingly high costs—the $218 a meal—is unacceptable. A number of constituents have written to me today about this issue. I really hope we can get further transparency and some changes today.
Maybe I will start with you, Commander Kenny. Again, congratulations on your promotion. We're really grateful for your service.
Maybe you can talk about whether a budget for in-flight catering expenses is established in advance for trips on Airbus and Challenger flights. If so, can you talk about what the budget was for the Governor General's March 2022 tour of the Middle East?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:43
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We do not have a set budget for a specific flight. We are provided operations and maintenance funding throughout the year to cover VVIP travel, but we don't have funds specifically allocated for each flight.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
Can you talk about what checks and balances are in place for when in-flight catering expenses are beyond the norm or what has been budgeted?
I'm concerned that if information regarding the catering costs for this trip hadn't been made public by an Order Paper question by Mr. Barrett, we wouldn't even be having this conversation about the appropriateness of these expenses or how to improve practices moving forward.
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:44
Right now, this is coordinated between the flight steward lead on the particular flight and Global Affairs Canada protocol to determine the menus and to actually do the catering.
We are absolutely committed to changing this to make sure it reflects the expectations of Canadians and those who were serving on flights. I strongly believe we will be able to further reduce costs as we move forward.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
That's really good to hear.
My next question is whether there has been a thorough review of the catering expenses from this trip. What areas have you identified where expenses could have been reduced? If so, where were those possible savings?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:44
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
One of the savings that was identified was in terms of the contingency meals that are purchased for the flight, which are above and beyond the total number of people on a flight. Reducing that specifically is one of the savings that has been implemented.
There are also certain locations that we know are much more expensive than others. Having said that, working with Global Affairs Canada, we were told exactly what locations we're going to.
I will allow my colleague to speak to why they would pick certain locations.
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:45
If the chair would allow, I'm happy to jump in and add a little bit of detail there on the question of the selection of locations.
Often when we are travelling as guests to a host nation, it will be dictated what airport we need to land at. In consultation with Public Safety, other partners here in Ottawa and the air force, of course, we identify a flight routing. There may be some limitations on countries or places in which we can land to refuel, for example. That explains a little bit about the limitations we have sometimes on which airports....
I think what's really important is that the members of our teams have been working together since this episode. We recognize there are problematic elements of this process. What we're trying to do now is instill a no-nonsense environment where exorbitant costs need to be flagged. They need to be flagged at the appropriate moment, so we can make alternate choices or forgo things that might have been part of the standard operating elements that have always been included in packages.
We're happy to make those choices and we look forward to being able to deliver cost savings.
View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
What I'm looking for is what changes in practices have actually been implemented since March 2022 to ensure that there's responsible stewardship of public funds and ways to improve accountability, so that it doesn't require an Order Paper question and so that Canadians know what expenses...what changes are being done.
What is going to be moving forward the transparency to Canadians to help them see that this isn't going to happen again?
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:47
I would just mention again that we are identifying cost savings. One of the examples the general gave was on this idea of contingencies.
To help people understand, the standard operating procedure when you're on an international commercial flight is that you would be given a choice between two meals, chicken or fish. Ordering enough meals to make sure you have a balance of those and you allow that choice is an art. It's an art the caterers and the steward work through in order to have a balance between service and overage or waste.
As the general mentioned, the number of contingency meals that have been ordered in the past has been strictly reduced over the last few years. We've now decided, as one of the outcomes of the discussions we've undertaken since this became clear to us, to forgo choice altogether. So on the recent trip to London, there were no choices. That reduces the number we have to order, because everybody's eating the same thing. That's one. Obviously that doesn't apply if there are dietary restrictions, but we are able to identify those things in advance and make sure we have a robust system of checks and flags so that we're able to work together and avoid these exorbitant costs.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Wheeler.
Thank you, Mr. Johns.
We'll now go to the second round, starting with Mr. McCauley for five minutes.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
Just very quickly, some of the committee members have asked for copies of the menus and so on. There would have been a banquet event order or catering event order for that.
Can you please confirm that you will provide that to this committee as soon as possible for this issue?
LGen Eric Kenny: I'll get you what we have.
Mr. Kelly McCauley: Thank you.
What was the reason for the difference between the $93,000 on the Order Paper question and the revision?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:49
Thank you for the question, Mr. Chair. It's a great question.
Initially, when we responded to the Order Paper question, the cost that came out was $93,117.89. What we didn't specify, which we should have, was that it was based on an estimate, based on what we understood at the time from the catering companies to be the cost. When we received the invoices—
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
When we get these banquet event orders, are they going to reflect $93,000? That's quite a significant thing.
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:49
Each caterer we worked with had a cost. We had estimates. And then—
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay. Would you provide the committee with the estimates, then, and with the final bill and the menus, please?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:50
I will if I can.
Once we looked through it—and we have the final invoices—the total cost turned out to be $80,000.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Will you provide us, please, with those estimates, the contracts and the menus for all the flights in question?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:50
We'll take it on, in order to look into those and provide what we have to you.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
I'm not asking you to look into it. Will you provide it for us, please?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:50
We'll take a look at it, yes, or to provide it.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
I think I have the will of the committee to ask that you provide it for us.
Were there any other, perhaps, hidden costs that were not part of that $80,000 that you discovered later or that haven't been included in that $80,000, or is that the drop-dead final cost and there's nothing else?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:50
Thank you for the question, Mr. Chair. It's a great question.
There are additional costs beyond catering for our flights. Specifically, there are costs for airport taxes, administrative fees, security charges and local taxes.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Were there any specifically regarding the fuel or the catering for that flight?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:51
When we go to certain airports, there are charges for landing fees and airport taxes that are not—
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Are those related to the catering or the fuel?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:51
No, they're separate from the catering charges.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay, so there are no other charges that are going to pop up.
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:51
The charges of $80,367 for the catering costs hold, which were included in a further update we gave in June and were not part of the original Order Paper question. But we do have additional costs beyond catering, just to be clear.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Okay.
What was the cost per person for the recent trip the Prime Minister and the GG took to London and then to New York?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:51
I do not know what the cost was per person.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Could you provide that for us, and the contracts and the menus?
When you talk about a selection of chicken and beef—I know on Air Canada you have a choice of stringy chicken or stringy tasteless chicken—often it's the same item. Is it beef or are you offering a filet, a choice cut of beef? What is exactly being chosen?
I ask because I'm kind of gobsmacked—and I'm trying to be polite here—that it's 2022, and I'm sure there are dozens of people working on this, and that $218 just seems to be: Yeah, that's okay. I have to ask: How did this happen? We hear Lieutenant-General Kenny talking about changing things in 2019, addressing the contingency in 2019, unless I heard it wrong, but now it's 2022 and we're hearing, “Well, we're going to address the contingency.”
We keep hearing, “Well, we're reviewing and reviewing.” We've been reviewing for years. I don't have a lot of faith—and Mr. Johns was getting at this—that it's actually going to get done. We hear a lot about reviewing. Would you be able to maybe put in writing to this committee actual firm steps you're taking to address the costs?
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:53
Absolutely. To answer your question around the style of meals, standard commercial airline-practice meals is what we're ordering, in line with health and safety and travel regulations as the General mentioned. We are looking at concrete savings, and we'd be happy to make that available to the committee.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
With regard to the Governor General's trip to the Middle East, the previous week, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and 58 other people went on a trip to London, Poland and various other stops. There were eight stops. There were 60 people, and the cost was about two-thirds, so we had about 50% more travelling and yet two-thirds less cost for that trip for catering.
How do we end up with such a massive discrepancy between caring for the Prime Minister—so it's not like it's 60 members of OGGO, you know; we're talking top-echelon people.... How do we end up with such a massive difference?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:54
I don't have the specifics of those costs with me.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
It's on the same Order Paper. Maybe you can let us know.
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:54
What I can say is that where we go to really dictates the price. So, for example, in Qatar and the UAE, the catering costs are quite high, and there are certain locations—
View Kelly McCauley Profile
CPC (AB)
Yes, I think my time is up, but I'll come back the next time.
Thanks.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you very much. If there's further documentation that you'd like to provide, if you provide that to the clerk, the clerk will distribute that amongst the committee members. That would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
We'll now go to Mr. Bains for five minutes.
View Parm Bains Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our guests for joining us today.
My question is for Mr. Wheeler. Earlier, Lieutenant-General Kenny mentioned things like monopolies in certain countries that drive up the costs. Were there other unique or unusual restrictions or limitations that contributed to the costs of catering services in this situation?
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:55
I think that on this visit there were a number of complexities, given the number of countries and the number of stops. We would have to go back and look at the specific airports. However, I can say that the discussions with host countries.... In this case, the host countries that we visited did have an impact on which airports were chosen for our landings in the host countries. That related to, for example in the UAE, landing with a government aircraft at a time when the UAE was hosting the final month of the world Expo. The UAE government requested that we land at a specific government airport versus the main commercial one, which is often the case when we're flying government aircraft into host countries for events hosted by foreign countries.
View Parm Bains Profile
Lib. (BC)
Are the costs different with a government airport versus a commercial airport? Are the landing fees higher at a government airport than at a commercial one?
Eric Kenny
View Eric Kenny Profile
Eric Kenny
2022-09-22 16:57
It's different in each situation, but often these are locations where there are very limited catering services. In other words, there might only be one caterer available to us, and they're not used to working with airlines as we would see in a more normal civilian airport where the costs could be lower because they are providing greater quantities.
The location is selected by GAC in coordination with the host country, of course, for those reasons, which include security. Ultimately, there's often less choice when it comes to the actual caterers that are available to us.
View Parm Bains Profile
Lib. (BC)
Moving on, how does the GAC protocol determine the appropriate standards that in-flight catering should meet? For instance, if we have royal VVIP who are flying on RCAF aircraft, how would GAC determine the appropriate standards?
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 16:58
We work with the air force to request a meal plan that is in line with the health and safety travel regulations, taking into consideration how long the flight is and how many meals would be offered. As I mentioned, meals are arranged to align with standard commercial airline practices for flights of the same duration. Global Affairs protocol is not involved in visits of the royal family to Canada. We are involved only with foreign dignitaries, and of course the royal family is the Canadian royal family, so that's not one where we would be involved. The Department of Canadian Heritage coordinates the royal tours.
I think the important thing is that we work very closely with the Royal Canadian Air Force to determine the appropriate number of meals, what kinds of meals are needed, how they complement the program that we have, or if they are in line with that program. Then, we review those and confirm the final menus based on the selections we've had from catering companies.
View Parm Bains Profile
Lib. (BC)
What is the GAC protocol office's role in this process, then? How do they interact between the RCAF and the VVIP office to determine catering choices? Where does that directive come from?
Stewart Wheeler
View Stewart Wheeler Profile
Stewart Wheeler
2022-09-22 17:00
As I mentioned earlier, our job is to work with our partners, whether it be the Governor General's office or the Royal Canadian Air Force, to ensure that there are appropriate meals provided during the visit. As I mentioned before, our job is not to task, but to share information. We evaluate the menu plan, we look at the options being put forward, and we make sure that it still fits with the needs of the people who are flying, in terms of special meals, etc.
In this case, for example, I would say it's useful to know, perhaps, that the office of protocol makes the choices. At no time in the process does the Governor General herself personally review menus. The only review by the office of the secretary to the Governor General for menus for her flights is actually done as a point of information and in order to avail ourselves of the in-house translation expertise that Rideau Hall has when it comes to food so that we can meet our obligations under the Official Languages Act to present a bilingual menu to our passengers. That consultation with the office of the Governor General is for information purposes. It's the office of protocol that makes the choices for menu selections in conjunction with the air force and the options that are provided by the catering companies.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Bains.
Now we will go to Ms. Vignola for two and a half minutes.
Results: 361 - 420 of 119369 | Page: 7 of 1990

|<
<
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>|
Export As: XML CSV RSS

For more data options, please see Open Data