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View Blake Richards Profile
Sure. I appreciate.
I know you always have done everything you can, so I appreciate that. Thank you for the information.
I have another matter I want to raise quickly.
We have lost or will soon be losing three of the most senior procedural clerks in the House: Colette Labrecque-Riel, Beverley Isles, and as I understand now, André Gagnon. We're going to see his retirement soon. These are three of the most senior people we have. I think there's close to 100 years of combined experience there. One of them, literally, wrote the book on procedure.
First of all, we want to acknowledge and thank them for all of the work and the contributions they have made to this place. However, I suppose it also raises a question on which I want to see if we can get some information brought back to the board. I understand that each of them has at different times been on medical leave in the last few years and then have ultimately decided to retire early. They all strike me as pretty young despite their lengthy years of service, so it seems as though those retirements could be coming a little early. Losing even one of them is a huge loss to this House, but quite frankly, losing three of them is probably an immeasurable loss.
Can we get a report back on whether there has been any work done on determining whether there are any internal factors that have caused such a significant and unexpected turnover? Is there anything being done both to try to mitigate their loss and as to whether there's anything we need to correct to ensure that we're not finding something occurring that's causing three of our more senior people to choose to leave in what I would say seem to be early retirements?
Can we ask that the administration examine that and come back with something on that? If there's any comment now, I'd be happy to hear if anything has been done.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
It's a fair request. We'll ask the administration to come up with a report and find out if there's anything—
View Blake Richards Profile
That's unless there's anything to report now. If not—
Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2021-06-10 11:23
Certainly, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
The only comment I would make at this time is, in my experience, people retire when they can and when they want to. If you have any questions specific to Mr. Gagnon's retirement plans, I would suggest that you ask him what his plans are, but he is eligible for and has opted to retire.
View Blake Richards Profile
Given that, I think it would be good if we could ask that there be.... Any time you lose three senior people, especially when they seem to retire earlier than what would be expected, it's probably wise to examine whether there's anything internal that is at play there. Maybe we need to examine those things and determine whether there's anything we can do to ensure that we don't lose other folks to early retirement like we have these three.
It could well be that, in this case, it's just coincidence that three of our most senior people have all made that decision, but it's always important. I know if I were to lose three senior people from an organization, I would want to examine whether there's anything we need to do to ensure that we don't have further occurrences.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's a fair request. We'll put that forward and see about getting a report back.
I do concur with you. They are very useful and they will be missed when they leave.
Mr. Julian.
View Peter Julian Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would reiterate Mr. Richards' request. I am concerned with high turnover. When we lose three people, who've given so much to the House, in rapid order in what seems to be their stepping down early, it's a matter of concern.
I thank you, Mr. Chair, for responding to Mr. Richards' request. I also believe that at the next BOIE meeting, perhaps in camera, we should have a discussion to determine if this is something we should be concerned about.
I want to come back to Mr. Aubé, because we have two dynamics at work. One is the new variants. I don't think we can, at this point, anticipate that in September, if there is no election, the House would reconvene as if the pandemic didn't exist. We're all hopeful that, eventually, the pandemic will die down, but the variants have meant that there's been a third wave, and there's anticipation now of a fourth wave this summer. We have to plan for that, of course.
There are discussions taking place in other forums about how that will look over the course of the summer.
Perhaps I missed this, Mr. Aubé, but I'd really like to get the dates at this point when committees can meet. Committees will be meeting over the summer—there's no doubt about that. There will be issues that will come up that require committee participation. I gather there are provisions if the House is recalled, and that's good. Committees will meet.
You mentioned June 23, and it wasn't clear to me what the end date was in that first preference for the administration that committees not schedule meetings. You then talked about further dates, but I didn't grab the dates that were mentioned.
What are the very concrete blackout periods that we can pass on to our caucuses of the administration's preferences of when not to hold emergency committee meetings during the course of the summer?
View Blake Richards Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. With all of the extended debate that occurred around that, I actually had my hand up to deal with something related to the business arising from the previous meeting.
View Blake Richards Profile
I think I just got lost because of the fact that there was such a long discussion there that flowed from the first person to put their hand up.
If you don't mind, it really is a brief comment and a quick question.
View Blake Richards Profile
From the previous meeting, I had made the suggestion that we seek to have you send letters to Quebec and Ontario ministries of health to make sure that we can have vaccinations for essential workers here in Parliament.
I see that what you have done is written to the federal Minister of Health, which so be it, I suppose. However, I wonder if you had a response to that letter and if you can share that with us.
Obviously it's critical that we ensure that these workers who are essential to the functioning of our Parliament and our seat of democracy here have the opportunity to be considered essential workers and get their vaccinations so we can keep them safe.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
There is no response as of yet.
Monsieur Patrice, has there been a response yet? No.
Maybe we'll push a little harder. I'll instruct our team to push on it again.
That's very good. Now we'll continue.
Ms. Laframboise, you have the floor.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Perfect. When I heard the answer, I was kind of worried that she wasn't answering you directly, but she got to it and it was part of the next presentation, so it all worked out very well.
Are there any other questions or comments? Are we all in agreement?
We'll continue then.
The next one will be the implementation of the proactive disclosure requirements of the Access to Information Act in the House of Commons. The presenters will be Daniel Paquette, chief financial officer; Philippe Dufresne, law clerk and parliamentary counsel; and José Fernandez, deputy chief financial officer.
We'll let Daniel start.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If you want to follow along, I know you have a lot of material in the binder related to this topic, but I'll be using the shorter deck to really walk through some of the key items here, and that deck is entitled, “Implementing the Proactive Disclosure Requirements”. That is for you to follow along with the presentation. Also in the materials you have are all the mock-ups that'll show you how the information will appear when we are able to publish to meet the requirements of the act. Today I'll really just focus on the items that pertain to the information that's going to be published and not necessarily on the format or the look and feel.
I won't be spending much time on slide 2 of the deck. It's just for background information. It really provides you an overview of the evolution of the last almost 20 years of what we've done around disclosure for the House of Commons. Obviously, I'm here today for that last step, in which 2020 will be the first disclosure, to comply with Bill C-58.
Slide 3 highlights some of the changes to what will be disclosed for members. With regard to travel, we will now be disclosing all travel incurred using House funds. For members, that will mean the detailed disclosure for travel that was basically covered by the MOB, not only the travel that was using the travel points system. For hospitality, there are no changes in the information that's going to be disclosed in terms of what we have been doing versus what the bill requires.
With regard to contracts, the column on the resources provided by the House will no longer be part of the quarterly report disclosure going forward. All contracts for which the member is the contracting authority will now be disclosed. In this case here, that means that all expenses incurred that would not already be disclosed under either travel, hospitality or the travel summary will be subject to detailed disclosure in this particular category. These expenses will be disclosed quarterly again, but they will not be cumulative as has been the case in the past, and they will still be published within 90 days of the quarter end.
On slide 4, changes for the presiding officers and House officers, there will be no changes to the information to be disclosed for travel or hospitality for these groups. When it comes to contracts, it is similar in that all expenses incurred that are not disclosed in the categories of travel, hospitality and salaries will also be disclosed in this category and again at the quarterly disclosure within 90 days of the period end.
One of the places we'll see the most significant changes is in relation to the House administration. I have that on slide 5. In all categories those disclosures will now start to happen. When we get to the travel and hospitality, it's all-encompassing so it will be all travel and all hospitality for all employees of the House, which will be disclosed in these detailed listings. For the contracts, we'll be looking at all contracts over $10,000, and we will also be disclosing the call-ups on standing offers that will be over $10,000 within that particular reporting period.
The expenses, again, are always disclosed quarterly, but what will be different for the administration is that this publication will be within 60 days of the quarter end, not 90 days. It's a little quicker after the period end.
Slide 6 gives you a bit of the changes pertaining to parliamentary diplomacy and committees. To meet the requirements for this group, changes are being made to the existing reports to meet all the requirements of the act. Parliamentary diplomacy will maintain their existing reports but add reports around delegations, around hosting and operating expenses, and around conferences. These reports will be published on the parliamentary diplomacy website also within 60 days. For committees, liaison has approved two proposals. One is a modification to the existing activity in the expenditure reports to break down the hospitality items. The new detailed travel expenditure report will also be added. Both of these will be disclosed on the committees website.
Also for this group, in order to meet the requirements of this act, IIA has asked for one additional resource, for the funding to cover at least 70% of the cost of that resource for the IIA.
In addition, the Access to Information Act provides two exceptions to proactive disclosure: security and parliamentary privilege. It is the Speaker of the House who has the authority to decide, and the administration will communicate to everyone in due course the process and criteria governing these exceptions. We will also conduct an analysis of all existing House contracts to determine the application of these exceptions, if any.
In conclusion, the administration has modified its tools and practices to meet the requirements of the act and we have a communication and training plan that is ready to be deployed to implement these changes.
To that end, we are here today to recommend to the Board of Internal Economy that it approve the recommendations presented in the submission. Specifically, we are asking the board to approve the proposed approach, changes to the disclosure reports, necessary amendments to the members' by-laws, changes to the Members' Allowances and Services Manual, and funding to cover the equivalent of 70% of a full-time employee.
We're ready to answer your questions. Thank you.
View Mark Strahl Profile
First of all, Mr. Paquette, can you be clear that everything you're proposing here is required by the act? Is there any flexibility, or did the ship sail when royal assent was given to this bill?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-06-01 15:23
We have been working with the legal counsel to make sure we were just disclosing what's required by the act, which is why some of the pieces, like the resources provided by the House, are not required and are not going to be in these detailed listings, but the interpretation has been taken to the extreme. We've worked with everybody in the organization to try to make sure we were meeting the requirements and not going overboard.
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