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Sophie Beecher
View Sophie Beecher Profile
Sophie Beecher
2015-05-26 9:04
No, actually, in this case it's an exception in law. The authorities come from a crown prerogative and they are codified in the Canadian passport order. It's important to mention that there are sections in the Canadian passport order that say that these ministers may exercise crown prerogative. Therefore, the codification is in the order but it does not constitute the whole of the prerogative. The prerogative exists independently.
View Mike Wallace Profile
View Mike Wallace Profile
2015-05-13 15:27
I call this meeting to order. Thank you for being here.
Today, for this hour, we're at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, meeting number 76. Today, pursuant to Standing Order 81(4), we're dealing with the main estimates: vote 1 under Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, vote 1 under Canadian Human Rights Commission, votes 1 and 5 under Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, vote 1 under Courts Administration Service, votes 1 and 5 under Justice, vote 1 under the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and vote 1 under Supreme Court of Canada, referred to the committee on Tuesday, February 24.
We had the minister here for the first hour on Monday. Today, we're fortunate to have witnesses from the Department of Justice.
Mr. Legault, the associate deputy minister, will introduce the team that is with him. We will have some opening remarks from a number of the organizations and then we'll go to questions.
Mr. Legault, the floor is yours.
Pierre Legault
View Pierre Legault Profile
Pierre Legault
2015-05-13 15:29
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Joining me today from the Department of Justice are Donald Piragoff, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of the Policy Sector and Marie-Josée Thivierge, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer.
I'm also joined by officials from the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, Marie-France Pelletier, chief administrator, and Luc Robitaille, director general, corporate services. As well, from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Brian Saunders, director of public prosecutions, and Kathleen Roussel, deputy director of public prosecutions.
I'm glad to say that we also have in the room officials from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada, the Courts Administration Service, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
As the minister was before you a couple of days ago and made some opening remarks, mine will be extremely short. As members know, the Department of Justice supports the Minister of Justice as he works to ensure that Canada's justice system remains relevant, fair, and accessible to all Canadians. We also support the Government of Canada's priorities by administering grants and contributions to the department's various funds.
We will be happy to answer your questions with respect to justice and the justice portfolio.
I will now yield the floor to my colleague Marie-France Pelletier.
She will be followed by Brian Saunders.
Marie-France Pelletier
View Marie-France Pelletier Profile
Marie-France Pelletier
2015-05-13 15:30
Good afternoon.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for this opportunity to appear before the committee. My remarks will be slightly longer but not too much, I promise.
As you are aware, the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada, or the ATSSC, was established on November 1, 2014, with the coming into force of the ATSSC Act. The creation of the ATSSC is consistent with the government's commitment to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its administration and operations.
The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada is mandated to provide comprehensive support services and facilities to 11 administrative tribunals. This organization will strengthen capacity and modernize operations, while enabling us to better serve the needs of the administrative tribunals, thereby improving access to justice for Canadians.
With six months behind us, we can proudly look back and say that the ATSSC managed the commencement of its operations well and with minimal disruptions to its clients, the administrative tribunals, and to Canadians. During those first six months we have fully integrated and co-located corporate services teams.
In doing so, we have also been able to consolidate a number of legacy financial and human resources systems and have replaced them with common platforms that will better enable our capacity to manage in these areas.
We have also maintained secretariats dedicated to providing specialized core mandate services to each administrative tribunal we serve.
We've developed and begun to implement our governance structure, which allows for full participation of senior executives, both in corporate and secretariat services, in decisions regarding the overall management of the ATSSC. Our governance structure also provides for the engagement of chairpersons at key stages on matters that may have an impact on their administrative tribunals.
We have conducted a rigorous budget allocation exercise through extensive consultation with secretariat executive directors and tribunal chairpersons.
This budget planning process was very well received, as it demonstrated our commitment to meeting the needs of the tribunals we serve, while ensuring stewardship and probity in the expenditure of public funds.
We have undertaken an operational planning exercise for the upcoming year of operations and will also undertake a strategic planning exercise to plan for the years ahead. In this first year of operations and beyond, we are committed to monitoring ATSSC and tribunal requirements very closely to be able and prepared to respond to emerging needs responsibly.
Though we have made great strides since our creation, our work is by no means done. As the ATSSC continues to evolve into a fully functional service-oriented organization, we remain committed to working with the administrative tribunals to support them in meeting their statutory obligations, while respecting their independence.
Our continued success in meeting our mandate, while fostering an organizational culture based on service delivery excellence and engagement, requires sound management of our resources.
As you may recall, the legislation that created the ATSSC included a provision for the resources of the tribunals to be managed through deemed appropriations following the ATSSC’s coming into force on November 1st.
The creation of the ATSSC did not result in increases in funding, rather it was created within the existing budgetary envelopes for each of the tribunals.
This represents our first main estimates for your consideration.
ATSSC's planned expenditures for fiscal year 2015-16 are $78.6 million. This includes $60.9 million requested as appropriations through these main estimates and $17.7 million in respendable recoveries through a vote-netted authority.
These planned expenditures and associated appropriations are consistent with amounts previously appropriated to the tribunals through estimates in 2014-15 and prior years. Of these funds, 88.7% is allocated to operational expenses.
The remainder will be allocated to statutory expenditures (such as the employee benefit plans). This spending will support the wide-ranging and important services that the ATSSC provides to all the tribunals it serves. Approximately $63.7 million is dedicated to programs directly supporting the mandate of tribunals.
These activities include the provision of expert core mandate services, such as research, analysis and legal support, and registry services.
Approximately $14.9 million is allotted to internal services operations, which include key support services such as IT, translation, procurement, finance, human resources, and communications, among others. As I've indicated previously, we will continue to monitor the budget and implement strategies to direct funds where they are needed the most to continue to be responsive and flexible to the needs of the tribunals we serve, as well as to ensure that public funds are spent responsibly.
The ATSSC has taken strides toward putting in place a service-oriented organization that contains many promising opportunities.
The organization is fortunate to count on dedicated employees who are fully intent on maintaining the administrative tribunals’ outstanding reputation and the quality of the work they perform.
The ATSSC is committed to a vision of setting the standard for service excellence, efficient and effective operations, and support for improved access to justice for Canadians.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my remarks.
Brian J. Saunders
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Brian J. Saunders
2015-05-13 15:37
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and honourable members. Thank you for inviting us here today.
I propose to provide you with a quick overview of our main estimates.
The budget authorities we seek are principally for carrying out the mandate of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions—or the Public Prosecution Service of Canada—under the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. The main elements of that mandate are to provide advice to investigative agencies where requested, and to initiate and conduct prosecutions within federal jurisdiction.
In addition, we seek budget authority for the work of the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. As you are aware, on October 1, 2014, as a result of the coming into force of amendments to the Canada Elections Act, that office was transferred to our organization.
The commissioner's mandate is to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the Canada Elections Act and the federal Referendum Act. The commissioner carries out his investigative functions independently of the ODPP. Those employees are now ODPP employees, and the commissioner's office budget forms part of our budget.
The budget authorities we seek for 2015-16 amount to $170.7 million. We also have projected revenues credited to the vote for services recovered from other government organizations amounting to $22.7 million. These two amounts are to pay for personnel costs of $132 million, and operational and maintenance costs of $61.4 million. I should point out that the latter amount includes $45.1 million that we pay for the services of private sector lawyers who are retained to act as federal prosecutors.
Another way of looking at the money is to look at the programs to which the money is dedicated. First, $130.5 million is for the drug, Criminal Code, and terrorism prosecution program. Second, $38.7 million is for the regulatory offences and economic crime prosecution program, including $22.5 million from projected revenues. Also, $4.1 million is earmarked for the compliance and enforcement activities of the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. The remaining $20.1 million is to be used for departmental internal services such as access to information, human resources, finance, communications, and security.
That concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer your questions.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
Thank you for joining us today to shed some light on the main estimates for us. I sometimes get the impression that justice is the poor cousin of the budget. It certainly does not represent a large percentage of it. Be that as it may, I feel that we have important work to do.
My first question goes to Mr. Legault.
Not too long ago, the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights was passed. But I see no substantial impact of it in your plans and priorities for the 2015-2016 year. I get the impression that, once again, you are going to be asked to perform miracles—and my congratulations for managing to do so—by making do with what you already have.
Am I mistaken?
Pierre Legault
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Pierre Legault
2015-05-13 15:41
Well, we still try to perform miracles, and generally to do what we can with what we have. That is quite clear.
That said, we are going to the Treasury Board to get the money allocated to us as part of that fund. That is in the works.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
This was my question. In the main estimates, can we see any impact of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights?
From what you are saying, you are going to have to help the provinces with the implementation. Clearly, that sort of thing requires an expenditure.
Are you ready to implement the resources for 2015-2016?
If we look at the allocations, we see that the Victims Fund has not moved: it is still $12.4 million, to be paid to non-governmental organizations. The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights is a big deal, but I really do not see its impact in the main estimates. Maybe I am not looking in the proper place.
Donald Piragoff
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Donald Piragoff
2015-05-13 15:42
Thank you for the question.
I believe the money is already in the fiscal framework of the Victims Bill of Rights Act. Currently the process is before Treasury Board to authorize the release of the money to the department. When that happens, I think the minister will be making a public announcement as to the amount, and the intended uses for the money. The minister had indicated—I believe it was in last year's budget, 2014—that there would be money going directly to some non-governmental organizations as well as to the provinces to assist them in the implementation of the Victims Bill of Rights Act, to help them with respect to restitution programs and things like that.
Donald Piragoff
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Donald Piragoff
2015-05-13 15:43
I believe there was a reference to it in last year's budget, 2014. The money is in the fiscal framework. That's why we're in Treasury Board, soon to get the authorization to spend the money. I think Parliament approved the money in last year's budget.
View Françoise Boivin Profile
As for the ombudsman, am I correct? I see a flat line, not in the sense of death but in the sense of it not moving upward with more obligation. Am I correct in what I read and what it looks like in the budget?
View Françoise Boivin Profile
Mr. Saunders, I'm sure you read the Calgary Herald with great pleasure this morning. I was both a bit shocked and not, because that's pretty much what I hear on the ground too, not only for your prosecutors but for prosecutors in general. Just in case you haven't, it said:
Emails and documents obtained by the Herald from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada...through access-to-information legislation showed senior lawyers in the Alberta office have been warning superiors that under-staffing and a relatively junior workforce could place cases in jeopardy.
I will spare you a reading of the entire article, but I will say that it is quite troubling. I heard the reply that the minister gave in the House today, but I am not sure that I am comforted by it. With all the responsibilities that now fall to your department, especially all the terrorism-related matters, are there enough prosecutors, as the minister said, or is there still a way for the situation to be improved?
Brian J. Saunders
View Brian J. Saunders Profile
Brian J. Saunders
2015-05-13 15:45
Yes, all across Canada, including Calgary. Both junior lawyers and experienced lawyers are helping us to fulfill our mandate. Up to now, there has never been a case we have had to withdraw from because of a lack of resources.
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