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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 11:36
Certainly.
A large part of the $14 million comes from the increase in the cost of living and the cost of living index, which is about $5.5 million. We also had approval to increase our support capacity for members of Parliament. A human resources team was put in place to assist MPs as employers. That's just over $2 million. There is also just under $1 million for the capacity of our law clerk group. Every time we change teams, there are costs; we know that salaries are expensive.
Other investments include standardization of computers in constituency offices. The team in place for this has also been added. There was also approval, even before lockdown, to increase webcasting of videos for this team as well. Each of these things contributed to the total increase. That's where the $14 million came from.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 11:38
A few years ago we purchased a lot of equipment and supplies for the implementation of the long-term vision and and plan project for the West Block and the building at 180 Wellington. This infrastructure has been purchased and is being put in place. There will probably be some stability, but since everything eventually wears out, I can predict that there will be growth again at the end of the useful life cycle of the equipment installed in these new buildings.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 11:45
Yes, for sure.
We've been looking at our various policies and have gone to the board to adjust and add the flexibility needed for the COVID pandemic situation.
I'll be honest that this is new to me today, so I will take this away and we can look at it and come back to the board, and possibly look at some of these options here to consider if it is feasible to use the travel budgets of members who are isolated at home or be on travel status, in essence, when they are in their constituencies.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:06
It's exactly that. Being statutory, they are in the acts themselves and we don't need to review them annually. The cost of living indexes are done for various items that are either for the operating budgets for the members or their sessional allowances in all this, so that we can move forward and the money is available for them.
On the other side, the other statutory item there is all the benefits relating to those various salaries, be it for members, members' employees or the House administration. It's about 15.5% that we add to this. We have to pay for the employer's share of pension plans, the employer's share of the health benefits and all the other benefits that are made available to employees. That is a rate that we must pay that is transferred to the central agencies to be able to absorb this.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:11
We ask ourselves this question every day to make sure we have the resources and capacity to serve you.
If you look at the additional disbursements we made during the pandemic for equipment, hardware, connectivity and so on, it's just over $3.5 million. These are large amounts, but a lot of work has been done to enable virtual work and so on.
On the one hand, we have reallocated existing resources to help support change in this environment. We reduced the investments we had planned. In some cases, this involved certain updates or renewal of our technology tools and internal projects. We're trying to find the balance.
On the other hand, the savings are quite significant, as far as travel is concerned. We're talking about nearly $9 million in travel savings. You have to be careful, because $5 million of that is a statutory budget that I cannot deploy elsewhere. However, if you look at the committees, the associations and the House Administration, including travel, we still see fairly significant amounts that are approaching $4 million.
The savings also include all equipment and supplies for our printing department, which was closed for a while. In addition, as the operations of restaurants, cafeterias, committees and other events on the Hill have decreased, there is no need to purchase equipment for these services.
Looking at trends, there are even more savings than expenditures because of COVID-19, because we've made an adjustment to allocate resources elsewhere.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:17
Basically, if we look at it, we're in the midst right now of preparing the estimates for next year.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:17
It was just after the election. They would have gone to the board in late November or early December.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:17
At this point, we've adjusted the request for the supplementary estimates (B), which are usually done once the fiscal year has started. That's where we've adjusted our request for the carry-forward and reduced it by the amount of the committee and associations, the funding that had been provided there for events that have either been cancelled or postponed. So we have not kept keeping the cash attributed to us if we didn't need to use it. That's why we adjusted it, but at this point here, because we have access to the supplementary estimates, that is where we would do the adjustments had there needed to be some for the current fiscal year.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:18
The estimates have stayed the same at this point because we're looking at a trade-off between some of the savings that we've had and have just talked about—some of the travel savings and savings in materials and supplies from some of the services that were closed during the lockdown. Those savings at this point have been sufficient to cover the incremental costs or disbursements relating to COVID.
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-24 12:19
I think I'd like to pass this on to Michelle Laframboise, our CHRO.
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