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Results: 1 - 30 of 1371
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I call the meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 19 of the Board of Internal Economy of the 43rd Parliament.
This morning, we will begin with item 1, the minutes of the previous meeting.
Are there any questions or comments on that? Seeing none, we'll move on to the second item.
We will continue with item 2, business arising from the previous meeting.
Are there any comments?
Mr. Richards, go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
There are a couple of things I want to raise quickly here. The first one is that I noticed that the administration has put together a report for us based on the questions that I asked at the last meeting related to human resource issues that we had with losing some of the senior leadership among procedural folks. I note that we do have an item later on the agenda on this. I was going to suggest that it might be helpful for that discussion to take place perhaps without the administration staff, other than the chief human resources officer, who probably should be a part of that, and possibly the law clerk.
I know this is what's typically done when the audits are presented to the board. It might be helpful for us to follow that practice for that particular item. I was going to suggest that, if others see the benefit of that. I think it might be good to be able to have that conversation with just the board members and the one or two pieces of that from administration that would have a direct impact there.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's a request.
Do I have unanimous consent on that?
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, do you have a comment on that?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Yes. To answer your question, I agree with Mr. Richards' proposal. We need to have this good discussion together.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do we have unanimous consent?
I'm getting signals that we do. That's great.
Thank you.
Mr. Richards, go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
I have another one as well, Mr. Chair, if I can.
With regard to the litigation that the government has brought with you named, Mr. Chair, I thought it might be beneficial for us to have an in camera briefing, just to find out a little bit about the litigation strategy that will be followed by the House in defending themselves against the government in the Federal Court procedure. I want to throw that out as an item that we could add to the agenda.
Obviously it's timely, so I don't think it's something that we can leave for a future meeting, but I think it would be helpful for all of us to have some sort of briefing on that. I would suggest that it be in camera.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe that's already open and ready to go in camera. I believe we have unanimous consent to go along with that.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Further to that, I also wanted to get.... I don't know who the appropriate person is to ask for an opinion on this, but I'm sure you can direct it to whomever it's appropriate to answer. With regard to that, obviously we're talking about a situation where it is in fact the government that is taking the House to court in that instance. Obviously, there are members of the board who are ministers in that government. I don't know, but it did occur to me that there's a possibility that there could be a conflict of interest for them to participate in those discussions. I don't know if they've personally given any thought to that, but maybe it would be good to get an opinion on whether it's appropriate for them to be a part of that discussion or not.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
If it's okay with the members, maybe we can approach it once we go in camera. We'll have the House of Commons lawyer, Mr. Dufresne, comment on that and then we can make a decision.
Is that fair?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay. Let's go with that, then. That gives everyone some time to reflect until we get there. There are no decisions made on the spot, and we'll make sure it's the right decision to make.
Mr. Julian will be followed by Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I was going to reiterate the same comments Mr. Richards made. I agree that, as part of the in camera, we should be briefed on the court case against the House.
Thank you for that.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mrs. DeBellefeuille, you have the floor.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I am not sure whether it will be possible during this meeting, but I would like to be reassured about next fall. The parliamentary session ended with a lack of resources, particularly in terms of interpreters. I would like to be reassured that this summer and fall we will have all the resources that we need to resume our work.
We have had to cancel committee meetings in order to be able to sit in the House of Commons and hold parliamentary committee meetings at the same time. I would like to be reassured on that point, even if it does not happen in this meeting. I would like to make sure that, in the fall, we will have the number of interpreters we require to be able to do our parliamentary work, in the House, in committees and in parliamentary associations.
I don't know whether we were supposed to have news about this today. If not, I would like to see a very clear update at the next Board of Internal Economy meeting on the state of our resources and the state of the situation, which was very worrisome at the end of the session.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Let me turn it over to Mr. Patrice, who can tell you what the situation is and what resources we have.
Mr. Patrice, you have the floor.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-06-28 11:19
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Yes, we will follow up with all the services involved. We will wait for the dust to settle and evaluate this. We will report back to the Board of Internal Economy on the status. We will be able to provide you with that information in the coming weeks.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's great.
If there are no further comments on item 2, we will continue with item 3.
There was a walk-around, an extension of COVID measures. They were extended to September 30.
Is everyone in accordance with the extension and what we have now, to be on the safe side?
Good. We'll move on to item number four.
Item 4 is the 31st annual session of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly, to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2023.
The presenter is Hedy Fry, and I'll let her take it from here.
Ms. Fry, go ahead.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This is a renewal request. I thank you graciously. The board granted a request for us to host, in July 2020, the summer meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. About 500 to 700 people were to attend. We had prepared for it. Everything was fine. We had done all the work. Then COVID-19 came in March 2020 and we had to cancel. We have not held another summer meeting since. We now have a mix of virtual and in-person meetings.
The OSCE PA, for those of you who don't know, is made up of 57 nation-states. They include Europe, Scandinavia, and the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Russia and so on. It also has about nine observer states from the Middle East that come to the meetings each time. The Holy See is also a member of the OSCE PA.
The last time we hosted a summer meeting was about 23 years ago. I think it's about time for one of the large countries, like Canada, to be able to do this. You kindly gave us permission in 2020. It was cancelled. I'm back to ask you for permission to do this in July 2023. You have, I think, the cost of the meeting. It has gone up a little bit because of inflation and the fact that now everyone is required to do a lot of COVID security, cleaning, etc. That has raised the bar a little bit for costs.
I would be able to answer any questions you would like. We are ready to go. The people who are running this for us, our bureaucratic staff, have been through this already. They were all prepped for July 2020 and then had to cancel. We did not pay any penalties in 2020, because we had a clause that talked about a force majeure. We have a similar clause this time in case an act of God says we have to cancel.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions for Ms. Fry?
The recommendation is that we go ahead. Is everyone in accordance with the recommendation?
Good. We have consensus.
Thank you, Ms. Fry, and thank you to all the members.
View Hedy Fry Profile
Lib. (BC)
Thank you very much, everyone. I appreciate it.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The next one on our list, number 5, is the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in August 2022. The presenter this morning is Jeremy LeBlanc.
Mr. LeBlanc, go ahead.
Jeremy LeBlanc
View Jeremy LeBlanc Profile
Jeremy LeBlanc
2021-06-28 11:23
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
This request is to transfer funding that had previously been approved for the 65th parliamentary conference to be hosted in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The conference was originally scheduled to occur in January 2021. It was then postponed until August 2021. It has now has been postponed again until August 2022.
The Board of Internal Economy had already approved temporary funding for the conference. We are asking for authority to carry over the approved funding from one fiscal year to the next to coincide with the timing of the conference.
Also, if there are any additional costs because the conference was postponed, we are asking you for permission to use the Joint Interparliamentary Council (JIC) budget to cover those costs, instead of asking for new funding.
In short, this is simply a request to transfer the funding already approved into the next fiscal year and the authority to cover the additional costs from the JIC envelope.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
You are signalling that it's clear and that you're all in agreement.
We have agreement on that recommendation. Let's continue with item 6.
This is the 2020-21 year-end financial report and the 2021-22 supplementary estimates. Our presenter will be Daniel Paquette.
The floor is yours.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2021-06-28 11:25
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am here today to present the 2020‑21 year‑end financial report, and to seek your approval for the supplementary estimates (B) 2021‑22. This report provides the details of the authorities and expenditures for the 2020‑21 fiscal year, as well as comparative information from the previous year. As with the quarterly reports already submitted this year, we are comparing two atypical years. This past year, the pandemic clearly impacted our spending trends, and the general election was held the year before. Therefore, our comparisons were made with due consideration of the influences on the results of those two years.
For reporting purposes, as of March 31, 2021, approved authorities for that period totalled $641.9 million, which is an increase of $124.8 million over 2019‑20 authorities. The most significant change relates to an actuarial adjustment to the members of Parliament retiring allowance account and the members of Parliament retirement compensation arrangements account in the amount of $125.6 million. The adjustment is made as directed by an actuarial report of the MP pension plan. As of March 31, expenditures totalled $610.1 million, an increase of $104.4 million over the previous year's expenditures.
The most significant increase in expenditures relates to the increase of $126.8 million in the contribution to the members' pension plan, mainly due to the previously mentioned actuarial adjustments. Had there not been this actuarial adjustment, the variance in expenditures would have been a reduction of $22.4 million.
This decrease in expenditures across the House is due to measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the restrictions on travel and gatherings imposed by public health authorities, which contributed to the significant decrease in our travel expenditures. A decrease has also been seen in areas across the whole organization, such as training and hospitality. Also, the temporary closure of some of our food service facilities and printing facilities last year has meant a significant reduction in our costs of materials and supplies.
These reductions were partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as the face masks and hand sanitizer that were used across the House, as well as by the investments in the virtual House proceedings and committees, including the remote voting system and accommodations for press conference facilities. In addition, there were costs incurred for equipment to enable the administration employees to work remotely during the COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for salaries and benefits have decreased, mainly since expenditures in 2019-20 were abnormally high as a result of the payments made in that period for severance payments for members and their employees following the 2019 general election. Also, in that fiscal year there were retroactive payments in respect of economic increases for certain administration employees.
Finally, the report provides a comparison between the 2020-21 and the 2019-20 utilization of authorities. With respect to the non-statutory spending, the utilization has decreased by 5.2%, which is not unexpected given the current situation. It is important to note and to mention that the administration does promote an efficient use of resources and continuously strives to minimize requests for incremental funding whenever possible. The COVID pandemic had a significant impact on the House business, and the magnitude of the financial impact was not apparent early in the fiscal year. Funding decisions were made based on the best information available at various times.
As the pandemic continued to evolve, restrictions continuously had to be put in place, which resulted in lower-than-expected expenditures. As mentioned before, the 2020-21 authorities totalled $641.9 million, and expenditures totalled $610.1 million. This leaves us with a $31.8-million surplus, which corresponds to the lapse that will be represented in the public accounts of Canada. The surplus represents 8.8% of the 2021 main estimates voted authorities. It is customary for government organizations to carry forward a lapsed amount of up to 5% of their main estimates.
Therefore, I'm seeking your approval to include a carry-forward of $18 million in the 2021-22 supplementary estimates (B), but note that I will return in the fall to inform the members of the final amount to be included in the supplementary estimates based on operational requirements at that particular time, if there is some reason why we don't need to carry over the full amount.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation.
I am available to answer any questions you may have.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any questions?
Is everybody fine with the recommendation that's proposed?
Mr. Richards, go ahead.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
Thanks, Mr. Chair.
I have a couple of questions related to resources. The first one is for you. In the House on our final day, I raised a point about some matters of privilege that we have. You made some comments in relation to that and other things. I thought that maybe there was a lack of resources in order to complete some of those things. I guess this is an appropriate place to ask about that. Do you think you have a need for additional resources? Is there a lack of resources available to you at this point?
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
No. Under normal circumstances, and even under extenuating circumstances, everything works fairly well. As you know, in the last two weeks of the House we were sitting until late. I have to credit the clerks of the House and the table officers on a lot of this work. They start working on it and they go around the clock—I don't think they sleep at night—so that we can get it. Unfortunately, we weren't giving them any time to sleep, so they weren't able to come up with a lot of it, and I didn't have what I thought was something that was to the quality that we've been accustomed to.
It was my call, but overall I think we do have sufficient staffing in the administration and the clerks. Just don't keep us going until midnight, or until one or two in the morning, every day for weeks on end and we'll be fine.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
This is the challenge we all face at that time of year, understood.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Exactly. It was an anomaly because of the time of year and everything kind of came.... A number of questions of privilege came at once and that basically was the issue.
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