Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Order. Welcome, everyone.
I don't want everybody to think that we will have only 25-minute meetings from now on. This will not be the norm. This is not a precedent.
In light of what's happened, we will end at about one o'clock. We'll try to make it as quick as possible.
If it's okay, with your unanimous consent, we'll go straight to item three. Do we have your consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Anthony Rota: Perfect.
We'll start with Madame Labrecque-Riel.
To the witnesses, I just want to remind you that we are under time constraints. We would ask you to be as concise as possible. We have to end at one o'clock, unfortunately.
As I'm sure you have a lot of details, I'll stop and let you start.
Colette Labrecque-Riel
View Colette Labrecque-Riel Profile
Colette Labrecque-Riel
2019-12-12 12:37
Mr. Chair, members of the Board of Internal Economy, good afternoon.
I am here to present a funding request for a minor reorganization I've undertaken at the International and Interparliamentary Affairs Directorate.
Some time ago, I decided to do an analysis of the workload of my team and discovered that the working conditions were not optimal. The IIA directorate, international and interparliamentary affairs, is a joint Senate and House directorate. I have Senate employees and House employees on my team. We deliver services for parliamentary associations, Speakers' exchanges, protocol and conferences. We currently have 54 FTE employees—12 Senate and 42 House.
We did an analysis in terms of the working conditions. I felt obliged to present a reorganization restructuring.
The analysis on which I based my recommendation showed that we had too many competing operational needs. Overtime was on the rise, sick leave usage was high, and we had low usage of annual leave. There was also a very high turnover rate.
I therefore initiated a minor reorganization of my team. We have reassigned internal resources, and we need one more employee to respond to operational needs and pressure. As I said earlier, we serve both the Senate and the House. I've included the numbers. The Senate share of the cost is 30%, and the House share is 70%.
Essentially, here is the bottom line for the House of Commons for this additional FTE. It was piloted on my team, and I have found very encouraging results since April: Overtime is down; sick leave is down; annual leave is up in terms of their ability to take it.
So that is the request before you—the approval of one FTE.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Rodriguez, do you have any questions?
View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I imagine the hiring has brought down overtime, as you said. Reduced overtime means reduced costs. Does that help somewhat?
Colette Labrecque-Riel
View Colette Labrecque-Riel Profile
Colette Labrecque-Riel
2019-12-12 12:39
Yes, I expect it will. Cost reduction was one of my main objectives. We will see cost recovery, especially when it comes to international conferences. As you know, the Joint Interparliamentary Council comes here from time to time to seek funding approval for major international conferences. On average, these conferences cost more than $1 million. For these conferences, an amount is always set aside for overtime. My objective is to reduce this amount. After one or two conferences, I will already have recovered the funds to cover this individual's salary.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Julian, you have a question.
View Peter Julian Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I support this additional funding, which is around $96,000. The most striking argument that prompts me to support this request is that employees worked almost 3,000 hours of overtime, but only managed to get 200 hours of annual leave. That means there's a problem. People are increasingly required to work overtime. We can see here that they were unable to take their annual leave. As a result, more and more sick leave hours are being used.
We manage financial resources here, sure, but we also manage human resources. It seems there is a work overload here. The responsible thing for us to do is add a few more human resources to balance things out a little more in this area.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Were you expecting a response? Was that simply a comment?
We will now move on to Ms. DeBellefeuille.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
Ms. Labrecque-Riel, I'd like to congratulate you for your high-quality brief. When I looked it over to prepare for the meeting, I found that your needs were well documented. I saw that you took care to stay within your financial and performance parameters, and that you were also sensitive to the conditions of those working on your teams.
Could you explain to us what impact a new managerial position will have on reducing employee overtime?
Colette Labrecque-Riel
View Colette Labrecque-Riel Profile
Colette Labrecque-Riel
2019-12-12 12:42
Basically, adding a manager would allow the entire management team to keep a closer eye on the workload of the directorate's 54 employees—55 if you accept our request. I have a team whose workload is increasing. If no one is monitoring that and a manager cannot reassign the work, people do overtime. Managers are unable to monitor the work and redistribute the workload. Having another manager meant that we could do that monitoring and redistribution. As I said earlier, the pilot project has been going since April, and we've already seen very tangible results.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
Thank you. You will have our support. I very much agree with your request.
View Mark Strahl Profile
Thank you very much.
Certainly, as members of Parliament and senators, we want to ensure the health and safety of people who are working for us. I think we have to recognize the strain that has been put on this group. However, again, in the last Board of Internal Economy, we had this discussion about there having been an increase of 60% or so in the activities of associations in the last number of years. Is there any cap in place? As the whip, I can tell you that members of Parliament do like to travel internationally, and obviously they've done that more and more over the last number of years.
While we do have to support that function, is there any cost control on that other side to prevent the growth rate from being 33% or 27% a year? Obviously, if the travel is happening, we need to have support staff, but what are we doing to ensure that this number doesn't just continue to increase exponentially year over year?
Colette Labrecque-Riel
View Colette Labrecque-Riel Profile
Colette Labrecque-Riel
2019-12-12 12:44
I'm not so sure that I have the magic solution in terms of where the cap is. I can say that this request does not stem only from associations. There is a direct link with associations in the sense that there's a strong connection to my request with international conferences that we host, but the outgoing association activities are not the big issue here. It really stems from the protocol team, who are responsible for the immediate delivery of protocol services on the Hill. With regard to the two buildings, the delivery of these types of events in two buildings is much more complex for these individuals. Until I piloted this new structure, the international conferences used to be the responsibility of the same team. As they're delivering these protocol activities on the Hill on a very immediate and reactive basis, they're unable to do the long-term and medium-term planning for these conferences other than doing it on evenings and weekends.
I do take your point. I know that the council will be looking at these things once it ramps up again, probably in February, for associations' outgoing activities, but this request is really for all of my business lines, not just for associations.
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