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Results: 1 - 15 of 444
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. It's a pleasure to be here.
As Speaker of the House of Commons, I will be presenting the main estimates for fiscal year 2019-2020 for the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Protective Service. I am joined by officials from both organizations.
Representing the House of Commons administration we have Charles Robert, Clerk of the House of Commons; Michel Patrice, Deputy Clerk, Administration; and Daniel Paquette, Chief Financial Officer.
From the Parliamentary Protective Service, we are joined by Superintendent Marie-Claude Côté, the service's Acting Director; and Robert Graham, the service's Administration and Personnel Officer.
I'll begin, Mr. Chair, by presenting the key elements of the 2019-20 main estimates for the House. These estimates total $503.4 million. This represents a net decrease of $3.6 million compared with the 2018-19 main estimates.
I want to point out—I think members probably know—that the main estimates have been reviewed and approved by the Board of Internal Economy at a public meeting.
The main estimates will be presented along five major themes, corresponding to the handout that you received. The financial impact associated with these themes represents the year-over-year changes from the 2018-2019 Main Estimates.
The five themes are as follows: cost-of-living increases; major investments; conferences, associations and assemblies; MP retiring allowances and MP retirement compensation arrangements; and employee benefit plans.
I'll begin with the funding of $4.9 million that is required for cost-of-living increases. This covers requirements for the House administration, as well as for members' office budgets and House officers' budgets. Ensuring that members and house officers have the necessary resources to meet their evolving needs is essential. The increase to members' office budgets, the House officers' budgets, and the travel status expense account provides members and House officers with the necessary resources to carry out their parliamentary functions on behalf of their constituents. These annual budgetary adjustments are based on the consumer price index.
Additionally, members' sessional allowance and additional salaries are statutory in nature and are adjusted every year, in accordance with the Parliament of Canada Act.
Cost-of-living increases are also essential to recruitment efforts for members, House officers and the House Administration as employers, and funding for these increases is accounted for in the estimates.
I'll now move on to the funding for major investments that the board approved, a net increase of $600,000 in support of major House of Commons investments. In light of the renewal of many parliamentary spaces, investments are also needed to deliver support services to members. One notable example of this service delivery initiative has been the implementation of a standardized approach for computer and printing equipment in constituency offices across the country.
This initiative was launched as a pilot project this year and following the next general election will be implemented in all constituency offices. Its purpose is threefold: to ensure parity between the Hill and the constituencies' computing services, to enhance IT support and security, and to simplify purchasing and life cycling of equipment in constituency offices.
As part of the long-term vision and plan, the Parliamentary Precinct continues to undergo extensive restoration and modernization to support the efficient operations of Parliament and to preserve Canada's heritage buildings.
The recent West Block rehabilitation project and the construction of the new Visitor Welcome Centre were milestone achievements and, in many ways, will serve as models for the upcoming rehabilitation of Centre Block.
The lessons learned from this project's successes can help guide us in restoring our heritage buildings to their former glory while also incorporating the modern functionality required to support Parliament. For the Centre Block project, the House of Commons administration is committed to engaging members to ensure they're involved in discussions on the design and operational requirements for the building during every step of the project from its outset to its completion.
As the heart of our parliamentary democracy, Centre Block of our Parliament Buildings has great symbolic importance to all Canadians. However, it's also a workplace for members and their staff or will be again once the House returns there. Therefore, their continuous involvement will be crucial to the success of this historic undertaking. Along with the board and its working group, this committee will serve as a forum to consult with members about their views, expectations and needs on a regular basis.
Let us now turn to parliamentary diplomacy. The sunsetting of the funds included in the 2018-2019 Main Estimates for conferences and assemblies resulted in a decrease of $1.4 million in the 2019-2020 Main Estimates.
Whether welcoming visiting parliamentarians and dignitaries to the House of Commons or participating in delegations to foreign legislatures and international conferences, MPs play an active role in parliamentary diplomacy. Two important events will be hosted in 2020-21. The 29th annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2020. The 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in January 2021. May I say that's an excellent choice. I'd love to take credit for it; I had nothing to do with it, but it's still an excellent choice. Both of them are, of course.
I will now touch on the total funding reduction of $9.3 million for the members of Parliament retiring allowances and members of Parliament retirement compensation arrangements accounts.
The MPs' pension plan serves more than 1,000 active and retired senators and members of the House of Commons. The plan was established in 1952 and is governed by the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act. In January 2017, the contribution rates for plan members increased to bring their share of the current service cost to 50%, thus reducing the cost that must be funded by the House of Commons.
The final item included in the House of Commons main estimates is a funding requirement of $1.6 million for employee benefit plans.
In accordance with Treasury Board directives, this non-discretionary statutory expenditure covers costs to the employer for the public service superannuation plan, the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan, death benefits, and the employment insurance account.
I would now like to present the 2019-20 main estimates for the Parliamentary Protective Service, or PPS. For the 2019-20 fiscal year, the budget request for the PPS totals $90.9 million, a modest decrease from the last fiscal year. Within this total, $9.1 million are attributed to statutory requirements, which comprise employee insurance, pension and benefits.
Since the amalgamation of the former parliamentary security services nearly four years ago, the PPS has made important investments and achieved considerable progress in strengthening security on Parliament Hill and within the parliamentary precinct.
Mr. Chair, before I speak about their specific funding requirements, I would like to say once again how grateful I am, and I know all members are, for the protection that PPS members provide to everyone who works here and who visits. These men and women strive to promote a safe and positive experience for more than a million visitors each year.
Before each financial cycle, and prior to requesting additional resources, the service conducts a comprehensive analysis of its operational and administrative requirements. In keeping with their strategic priority of sound stewardship, they take every measure to meet the operational needs of both houses of Parliament with existing resources. When additional resources are required, proposals undergo several levels of review and oversight before they are included in the estimates.
For fiscal year 2019-20, the key funding requirements include $1.4 million for 15 full-time equivalents to cover additional posts in new Senate buildings; $775,000 for the establishment of an asset management program to properly maintain security equipment and uniforms; $650,000 to build on existing security investments at the vehicle screening facility, where the service processed an average of 300 vehicles a day last year; $5.5 million in permanent and temporary funding for various payments as a result of labour negotiations; and $600,000 in additional administrative staff in information technology, asset management and communications.
Approximately 92% of the overall annual budget of the service funds the salaries of over 500 uniformed operational members and more than 100 civilian positions. This is in addition to the members of the RCMP who are assigned to the service to provide front-line support.
As the operational lead, the RCMP also provides the service with the necessary operational training. This knowledge transfer from the RCMP to PPS is progressing well, with an increasing number of operational units, such as the mobile response team now being led by the service. For this reason, the service is requesting an additional 70 full-time equivalents through the cost-neutral strategy of reducing RCMP front-line support over the next two years. We'll see that shift happening.
This past year, the service screened nearly a million people, seized 23,000 prohibited or restricted items from visitors, managed hundreds of public demonstrations and events, and addressed numerous security incidents involving acts of civil disobedience on Parliament Hill and within the parliamentary precinct. They also intervened as first responders for various incidents.
In preparation for the move to the interim accommodations, the service also redesigned its posture by maximizing the use of existing resources across all parliamentary buildings. They refocused operations on their protective mandate, which allowed them to redeploy resources more strategically and with greater flexibility.
Additionally, the service is prepared to meet the new operational challenges associated with the increasing number of visitors at the new visitor welcome centre, an expanded jurisdiction of the precinct consisting of new parliamentary buildings and the larger physical separation between both Houses of Parliament. As you know, Mr. Chairman, moving out of Centre Block to this and other locations has required us to be a bit more dispersed.
They have also introduced additional measures to improve the management of health and well-being of the workforce. Over the last two years, involuntary overtime has significantly decreased. They have implemented a drug and alcohol policy in response to the legalization of cannabis, enhanced the training curriculum for protection officers and detection specialists, launched an employee engagement survey and improved the accommodations program to facilitate an early return to work.
These measures are aimed at not only promoting healthy living among its workforce, but also to help ensure that employees return home safely from work.
The service had the unique mandate of protecting the legislative process—and in doing so, must remain agile and responsive to any threat made against the Parliament of Canada across 40 locations. This means a continuous operation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to be able to detect and respond rapidly to emerging global and domestic threats, and to adjust their security posture accordingly.
Last summer, uniformed members intercepted and arrested an individual who breached the security perimeter during the changing of the guard ceremony on Parliament Hill.
They also operate in a multi-jurisdictional environment, which requires a high degree of collaboration with law enforcement and intelligence partners. In the last year, they have strengthened communications with their partners and met with trusted international counterparts to share best practices and develop new ways forward in the field of protection.
This concludes my overview of the 2019-2020 Main Estimates for the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Protective Service. My officials and I would be pleased to answer questions. If members have any specific questions with respect to the security posture or labour negotiations, I would recommend that the committee go in camera for that discussion.
View Nick Whalen Profile
Lib. (NL)
Going back to Mr. Cannings' question about life-cycle analysis, I think of the massive undertaking that redeveloping the parliamentary precinct has been.
I'm wondering if there has been any engagement of NRCan or your group in determining what the best materials are to use to provide some energy efficiency within the parliamentary precinct while maintaining the historical character. How would Canadians find out what types of technologies are being used to make the parliamentary precinct more energy efficient?
Trevor Nightingale
View Trevor Nightingale Profile
Trevor Nightingale
2018-10-30 12:44
NRC was engaged by PPB, the parliamentary precinct branch, at the very early stages of developing the work plan for the parliamentary precinct, including the Centre Block.
We developed a report for them that outlined innovative technologies that could respond to use cases that were identified through ongoing and historical engineering reports. Not only was it energy, but it could be seismic. It could be a number of things that those buildings had issues with. We mapped those issues, or use cases, to innovative technologies. We made that report available to PSPC, PPB and their consultants.
I think at this point it's not in the public domain. Again, that report was handed in only a few months ago.
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 12:52
Thank you, Mr. Joint Chair.
Honourable senators, members of Parliament, joint chairs, it is my pleasure to address the committee today regarding the impact on the Library of Parliament of the upcoming closure of Centre Block planned as part of the Long Term Vision and Plan.
I am accompanied today by Catherine MacLeod, Assistant Parliamentary Librarian, who has been overseeing this initiative for the library.
Centre Block is closing for at least a decade, which will have a significant impact on the library. The impact is both a challenge and an opportunity. It's a challenge in terms of the detailed analysis and decision-making that have been a significant focus for us for the past several years. It's also an opportunity as the physical change to our space has provided the impetus to rethink our support to Parliament and to modernize how we deliver products and services.
To adapt to our future new reality, the library is implementing major projects in four areas.
First, we will relocate the main library's collections among several locations.
Second, we are modernizing reference services and refreshing library space by renovating and opening new branches.
Third, we are redesigning how we welcome visitors to Parliament Hill so that they continue to have a high-quality experience at the new visitor welcome centre, West Block, and the Government Conference Centre.
Finally, we are developing a virtual experience of Parliament that will showcase Centre Block during the years of its closure.
I would like to start with the most visible change, the closure of the Main Library in Centre Block.
The Main Library will close for the duration of the Centre Block rehabilitation, and the collection will be moved.
We have done this before when the Main Library was renovated in the early 2000s and we can therefore build on that experience.
The collections will be distributed among several branches according to branch specializations and user needs.
The bulk of the main library's collection, including the rare books, will be transferred to 45 Sacré-Coeur in Gatineau. This space was used when we renovated the library in the early 2000s and is currently being upgraded to house the collections when Centre Block closes.
Current levels of service for physical delivery of collection items to users will be maintained. The library is revising its delivery model to respond to an anticipated increase in requests for digital material. For example, we are increasing our electronic collection and digitizing more parliamentary publications to modernize our service to Parliament.
The temporary closure of the main library has been a catalyst for the modernization of our reference services, something libraries worldwide are doing as they rethink what it means to be a library in the Internet age.
We will increase the number of points of service, focusing on offering more inviting and comfortable seating, multipurpose work and meeting spaces, technological innovations, and additional electronic resources to enhance user experience.
The library is currently working with colleagues in PSPC, the Senate, and the House of Commons to plan the library's new branches in the Government Conference Centre and in the West Block. Overall, the library will be located to assist parliamentarians where they work.
Our points of service will include existing branches at 125 Sparks Street and in the Confederation Building, the new branch that has opened in the Wellington Building, and the future branches in the West Block and in the Government Conference Centre.
The new design for our branches was piloted with the Wellington branch. It is a stunning place. Natural light reflects from the skylight off the copper walls to create a warm, elegant environment.
Parliamentarians and staff are using the collaborative work areas, individual study areas and meeting room. It is an inviting space from which to browse our collection of magazines and newspapers, relax in comfortable seating or work between committee meetings. In the first year since its opening, over 3,000 people used the reading room and close to 700 came to the reference desk to ask questions.
The 125 Sparks Street branch, which is a former bank between O'Connor and Metcalfe, will be our main branch during the Centre Block closure. The 125 Sparks Street branch will be a place for parliamentarians to meet and collaborate with colleagues, constituents, and other stakeholders or work privately in the reading room area with its comfortable chairs and sofas.
Parliamentarians and their staff will be able to stay connected to current events through a wide selection of newspapers, magazines, and television broadcasts from the new state-of-the-art media wall that will be installed in the branch. The branch will also offer parliamentarians an opportunity to browse our collection using mobile devices. It's truly a library of the future, and currently, it is undergoing renovations and is scheduled to reopen in August.
In addition, the library is realigning visitor services for Parliament.
After the closure of Centre Block, guided tours will be offered at the Government Conference Centre for the Senate and the West Block for the House of Commons.
The public will also be able to see Parliament at work by attending debates in the public galleries and by observing committee meetings.
Guided tours of both the Government Conference Centre and West Block will include the interim chambers of the Senate and the House of Commons, with stops in the public galleries and on the chamber floors. The tours will also visit a committee room and learn about the transformation of the heritage buildings that will house each chamber.
An electronic ticketing system will also be launched to support the operation of the guided tours from both locations. Parliament will have a permanent visitor welcome centre. Its opening will coincide with the opening of the West Block. The new underground facility will become the front door for visitors at the West Block.
The Visitor Welcome Centre will be a modern, four-level underground complex which will include spaces to support visitor services, such as an information desk, a tour departure room and the Parliamentary Boutique.
As I mentioned in my last appearance at this committee, tours of historical rooms at East Block will also be maintained.
In parallel, to mitigate the closure of Centre Block, the library is creating a virtual experience to give Canadians the opportunity to access and explore Centre Block during its closure. We are working in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada to develop and produce this exciting project. Carleton University's immersive media studio and Public Services and Procurement Canada are also involved.
The virtual experience project has three components. First, the public will be able to access a web-based multimedia experience that will include a 2-D website and a 3-D virtual reality production featuring the public spaces of Centre Block. It will highlight the art, architecture, and functions of Parliament that are so familiar to us.
Second, for teachers and youth, a travelling classroom program will include teacher resources and virtual reality equipment that will be shipped to schools across Canada so that children can visit a virtual Parliament in their classrooms.
Third, an on-site visitor destination, using cutting-edge technology, will immerse visitors in a projected virtual experience of Parliament at a location in the national capital region near Parliament Hill.
All of the library LTVP projects are currently on track. This is an exciting time for us as the closure of Centre Block has revealed itself to be a true opportunity to think towards the future and evolve how we serve you.
Thank you for inviting us to appear before you today. We will be pleased to answer your questions.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you very much.
I simply have a few comments and questions about the manner in which the guided tours for the public will be managed at the new visitor centre.
When visitors come to the House to listen to the debates, especially in groups, do you know if they will have to leave the room, as is currently the case for groups of young people who are forced to leave after 30 minutes? Naturally, when I speak to these groups about their experience here, they tell me that they would have liked to stay longer to listen to these debates, but that is not possible.
So, how are you co-operating with security to ensure that the educational experience will be exemplary, and secondly, that security will be respected?
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 13:01
There are some differences between Centre Block and the new spaces. The new spaces are smaller and access to certain places is restricted for visitors.
For instance, when the House sits, we will not be able to have guided tours for groups in both houses. So, it will not be possible for participants in these guided tours to listen to debates when the House sits.
However, if a visitor who is not a part of a guided tour group wants to go to the galleries to listen to debates, that will continue to be possible.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
How many seats do you believe will be available for the public in the new gallery? The educative experience is quite important. I think you're doing this educational outreach, which sounds absolutely fantastic, with the virtual element and trying to go to the Canadian public outside of Parliament. If someone actually takes time, though, to come here and wants to see question period, how many people can attend question period and stay for the entire time? Not only while the Prime Minister is speaking but for the final questions by the independents, for some of the motions at the end, and for some of the debates if they want to stay a bit longer? How do they get that full experience, not just the QP experience?
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 13:03
I do not have the number of seats, in either the House of Commons or the Senate. That's something we would have to consult on with our colleagues in the two administrations and come back to the committee with that information.
Terry M. Mercer
View Terry M. Mercer Profile
Hon. Terry M. Mercer
2018-05-24 13:03
Thank you, Chair.
The opening of new branches and the changing of how you're going to operate while this place is closed are important. Do you have a plan for how you will educate the staff in all of our offices? In many cases that's the point of entry for constituents from across the country who call us in advance of their trip here. Are you going to be able to have a briefing, similar to what you have done today, for our staff?
As well, I want to thank you for remembering to put the East Block on the tour. It is still the hidden gem here, with the original offices of Sir John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, and the original cabinet room, etc.
I encourage you, if you haven't been to the East Block, you have to go.
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 13:04
Obviously we want to interact with the staff of parliamentarians. At the moment we're—to be fair—focused on the move. It's all about getting ready for the move and getting ready to occupy new spaces. Some are still being renovated at the moment.
It is part of what we're thinking about, though, once we start occupying these new spaces: to be able to do some outreach, some change management, to be able to tell our users where we are located, and to welcome them to our new spaces. That's very much top of mind for us.
I'm not in a position today....
Can you add...? Wonderful.
Catherine MacLeod
View Catherine MacLeod Profile
Catherine MacLeod
2018-05-24 13:05
Thank you very much.
It's a real pleasure to be here to share our work with you with respect to preparing for the move. With the Wellington Branch, I think the high numbers of parliamentarians and their office staff that we are seeing, who are working in the library and asking for services, are because of the orientation we had with them in that building.
We had a welcoming gift for them that included information about the library branch. We visited them individually and also had some training sessions for them in the branch. The beauty of having five branches during the 10-year closure period is that we will be closer to you and to your office support team. I think that's a positive benefit of the changes we're about to experience.
View Angelo Iacono Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good day, Ms. L'Heureux. Once again, I wish you a very happy retirement. You will be leaving us, but you are leaving us with many novelties, particularly this concept of a virtual immersion experience.
Could you explain how that will work? What impact will this have, for instance, on the parliamentary guide programs?
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 13:06
Regarding virtual reality, we want to develop a Web platform to offer a similar visit to what is currently offered in Centre Block, which makes it possible to go to various places and explore. We want to make this a virtual experience. It's what I call 2D.
We want to go even further and use virtual reality technology thanks to which you will be able, from home, to use a virtual reality headset and have an immersive experience visiting the Centre Block. It will even be possible to go a bit further and interact with certain spaces that interest you and to explore them a bit more.
The last part will be a virtual visit to Centre Block from a location in Ottawa that has yet to be determined. You will go into a room, and it will be as though you were entering the Centre Block. All of these elements are being developed.
As for the guides, they will not really be affected by these projects. The guides will offer visits in the new buildings we will be occupying after the move. We are currently working on determining which aspects of these new buildings will be highlighted during these visits.
Sonia L'Heureux
View Sonia L'Heureux Profile
Sonia L'Heureux
2018-05-24 13:08
We are still in the design phase; we are choosing what we will present through the different products. The deadline we have set for the Web platform is March 2019. For the products being developed for schools, we have a somewhat longer horizon, which is September 2019. As for the immersion experience, which will involve entering a room, we are aiming for December 2019.
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