Thank you. I will do the introductions via my opening statement.
Mr. Chair and committee members, good afternoon.
I'm very pleased to be here today, and to have the opportunity to appear before you to discuss our supplementary estimates (B) as well as updates on some of our recent accomplishments.
It is a pleasure for me to speak for the first time in the newly renovated West Block. As Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, I am proud of how much has been accomplished to restore and modernize the parliamentary precinct.
Joining me today are Public Services and Procurement Canada's new deputy minister, Bill Matthews; our chief financial officer, Marty Muldoon; our associate deputy ministers, Michael Vandergrift and Les Linklater; and our assistant deputy minister of defence and marine procurement, André Fillion.
From Shared Services Canada, we have Paul Glover, who was recently appointed president; Sarah Paquet, executive vice-president; and Denis Bombardier, chief financial officer.
Mr. Chair, these two organizations serve Canadians every single day by providing services and support to other departments and agencies. To support our operations, we are requesting $102.3 million in supplementary estimates (B). This amount is comprised of $75.5 million for PSPC and $26.8 million for SSC.
Allow me to begin with our request related to PSPC, starting with one of the most pressing issues the Government of Canada is facing today, which is stabilizing the Phoenix pay system. While we're making progress, we know there is still a lot of work to do to ensure Canada's public servants are paid accurately and on time, every time.
As I reported to this committee in December, we have significantly increased our capacity to address pay issues, and we have introduced measures to ensure that public servants receive more useful help and support when they call the client contact centre.
I will also inform this committee about the success we've had with our pay pods. You'll recall that this approach assigns compensation advisers to the employees of the specific organization. These dedicated advisers develop departmental expertise and relationships, and work to address all outstanding transactions in an employee's pay file, rather than addressing issues by transaction type. New pay pods were rolled out just last week, bringing us up to 34 departments that are being served using the pay pod model. This represents approximately 154,000 employees. We're also on track to have all 46 departments served by the pay centre using the pod model by May of this year.
Since January 2018, we've decreased the backlog by nearly 160,000 transactions and reduced the overall queue for pod and non-pod departments combined by an average of 25%. Pod departments alone have seen a 29% reduction in their queue, which demonstrates the success of this approach.
I should also add that we've processed more than $1.5 billion in retroactive payments for employees.
We are also supporting employees during tax season by working with Canada Revenue Agency and Revenu Québec to ensure that employees are provided with accurate tax slips. And we continue to offer flexible repayment options for employees who have received overpayments. We are committed to making this situation right for public servants and their families.
For supplementary estimates (B), we are requesting $25.1 million for continued efforts to stabilize the Phoenix pay system. Although we still have work to do, I can assure you that we'll continue working to ensure people get paid accurately and on time.
I now turn to our request for new funds in support of the Receiver General's operation. Every year, the Receiver General incurs costs for processing transactions on behalf of federal organizations. They include the card acceptance fees we pay so that Canadians can make payments to the government of Canada using debit and credit cards, and postage fees to mail cheques to Canadians. These fees have been growing above our normal baseline and they fluctuate every year. We are requesting $13.5 million to address these costs.
Our supplementary estimates (B) also include $2.8 million in new funds to support the integrity regime program, aimed at addressing corporate wrongdoing. This more robust approach to improper, unethical and illegal business practices will come into effect soon following public consultation. The funds we have requested will address the increased workload and operational costs associated with administering the new regime, ensuring that our government conducts business with ethical suppliers and ultimately holds those suppliers accountable.
I'd also note that there are $22.9 million from the sale of surplus real property that PSPC will reinvest to preserve and maintain our real property portfolio and provide tenants with healthy and safe accommodations. This will help PSPC meet the needs of federal organizations and provide sound stewardship of federal buildings on behalf of Canadians.
I'd now like to provide some updates on some of our key achievements.
We have made great progress on our promise to replace Canada's fighter fleet. We worked closely with the Australian government to procure 18 F-18 fighter aircraft, plus equipment to supplement the current CF-18 fleet. We received the first two fighter aircraft from Australia on February 17, ahead of schedule. In addition, just last week we concluded the second round of one-on-one engagement with suppliers for the future fighter program, to purchase 88 modern fighter jets.
There have also been a number of major developments in Canada's national shipbuilding strategy. On February 8 we announced that Lockheed Martin Canada had been selected for the design of 15 new Canadian surface combatants that will be built at Irving Shipbuilding's Halifax shipyard. This is the largest and most complex procurement ever undertaken by the Government of Canada, and it was done in an open and transparent manner. With this contract, design work is proceeding, which will be followed by construction in the early 2020s. In addition, we are advancing construction work on other large ships on both coasts, generating substantial economic benefits across the country and revitalizing a world-class marine industry that supports Canadian innovation.
As noted earlier, we have also worked hand in hand with our parliamentary partners towards a successful transition of the operations of Parliament to the West Block and the newly restored Senate of Canada building. This will allow major restoration work to begin on Centre Block so that it can continue to serve as the seat of our democracy and proudly welcome future generations of Canadians.
Mr. Chair, let me now turn to Shared Services Canada. SSC has made tremendous progress over the last few years. Now led by Paul Glover, and with the appointment of Luc Gagnon to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer, SSC is entering the next phase of its evolution. This new office will help SSC deliver a more coherent vision of modern and secure digital government.
To that end, SSC has closed nearly 180 legacy data centres, replacing them with new state-of-the-art enterprise data centres. This is resulting in more efficient and less costly IT operations for the Government of Canada. SSC also continues to support its clients in the implementation of the government's “cloud first” policy. There are now over 40 active cloud computing accounts that are helping to provide modern and efficient IT services to Canadians.
SSC completed the first phase of an e-cabinet initiative that allows ministers to access their secure documents from their tablets anywhere, any time.
In 2017-18 alone, more than 1,200 employees joined the department. This provided vital additional capacity to meet the growing technology demands of federal organizations.
Today we are requesting $26.8 million in supplementary estimates (B) funding. This request includes $20.3 million for cyber and information technology security initiatives to respond to the most pressing gaps in government systems. This funding will continue to allow SSC to provide modern, reliable and secure information technology infrastructure and provide world-class digital services to Canadians.
Public Services and Procurement Canada and Shared Services Canada have diverse yet equally important mandates. We are thankful for the many devoted and skilled public servants who help fulfill these mandates.
With the additional funding we are requesting today, these organizations will be better able to meet the needs of their client federal departments and agencies, and ultimately, all Canadians.
Thank you. We look forward to your questions.