Interventions in Committee
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good morning to all of the committee members, both the Liberals and the New Democrats and Conservatives. I am very pleased to be here this morning.
Madam Chair, I am on a sort of interparliamentary diplomatic mission. That is, I am here on behalf of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates to try to understand what has happened and why this bill is being examined by this committee rather than ours.
I am also here as the critic for Public Services and Procurement Canada and to add my two cents about this bill, which was initially analyzed by my colleague, Mr. Blaney.
Thank you for being here this morning, Mr. Schwartz.
In the seventh paragraph of your presentation, it clearly states that you do not necessarily support the bill, but you are supportive of the commendable objectives. Sometimes we can support the principles that are part of something without necessarily supporting the entire thing.
Should we understand that this is your department's position?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
You say that 72 per cent of bidders are small and medium-sized enterprises.
Our SMEs are already having trouble getting to their year end without laying people off. That has been the case for the last year, especially.
Based on your experience and your role in the department, would you tell me whether, in your opinion, our SMEs have broad enough shoulders to take on additional work when they submit proposals?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Thank you, sir.
I would like to benefit from your expertise some more. I would like us to review the four subsections of proposed section 20.1 in the bill.
With subsections 20.1(1) and (2), I think there will be some interference in the contracting processes carried out by third parties.
For example, in the fourth line of proposed subsection 20.1(1), we see: "... and includes local job creation and training opportunities ... ." It seems obvious to me that unions already play this role. In Quebec, it is the unions that are involved in making sure that the local work force is going to be employed. In many cases, it is also the unions that handle training for that work force. That is also why we are very fond of unions.
Next, it refers to "improvement of public space." In my view, it is municipalities that look after this aspect.
At the end of that sentence, it refers to "any other specific benefit identified by the community." Good heavens! Applying that will be horrific. Ultimately, there will be consultations for all projects awarded by the Canadian government. It amounts to the government telling the municipalities that, boom, it intended to erect a new building in a particular neighbourhood, and required the municipalities to hold a public consultation so the community could specify what benefits the project should provide.
Is my analysis relevant?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
I am going to try to be clearer.
Do you not think there is some interference? In fact, on the question of job creation and training opportunities, it is the unions that do that. The contractor will tell the Minister that it can certainly produce a report, but ultimately, it is the unions that will handle those aspects.
Does the bill not mean that the game is being played on two, or even three, playing fields at once?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
Avenue D'Estimauville is in my riding.
On that avenue, there are two new government buildings. That is a project that represents 1,000 jobs. It seems clear to everyone that the benefits are to the community: restaurants open, the workers come form the region, and so on. Some things happen naturally in a society, and the government does not necessarily need to direct them. That is the beauty of the human race.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
I think there was a very good reason that this amendment was brought forward, and it's to make sure that the bill doesn't actually affect anything.
Let's look at that objectively. If you put “on community benefits provided in” before “construction”, it means that every time the minister does a report, it will always be positive. For each contract, she will find something that was adequate towards this bill, and she will present this adequate result.
The other way around, the way it was before, she had to present each construction report and try to find community benefits provided by the construction. Now it's the other way around. By doing so, they are just protecting the minister. This is exactly what it's doing.
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