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Results: 1 - 5 of 5
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2015-03-10 17:01
I'm afraid that's not a point of order, Mr. Byrne, but you have made your point, and that does come close to the time that we have for the minister with us today.
But I just want to say before you go, Minister, that this has not exactly been a triumph of scrutiny and oversight and due diligence, in that 241 billion dollars' worth of spending just flew past under our noses with the most cursory overview of one hour with the committee, and one party with political standing got exactly five minutes to question all of the spending on the main estimates and the supplementary estimates (C).
It's a bit like walking a chicken past a pot of boiling water and calling it chicken soup. It hardly qualifies as oversight, in my view.
On a point of order, Mr. Albas.
Brian Pagan
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Brian Pagan
2015-03-10 17:31
Thank you for the question.
Transparency and accountability for the moneys provided to departments again are something that we take quite seriously. We have, I think, worked very constructively with this committee, with the Senate Committee on National Finance, with the Office of the Auditor General to listen and hear their needs and make real improvements to the information provided to Parliament, not only in the estimates but in a range of other documents. The quarterly financial report provides in-year reporting on how each and every department is progressing against the authorities provided to them by departments.
In just a week or so the President of the Treasury Board will table departmental reports on plans and priorities, which provide a great deal of detail by department for the moneys requested in these supplementary estimates. We have worked with departments over the last several years to improve the transparency of their documents by identifying strategic outcomes and program activities that allow parliamentary committees to better understand the aggregation of programs and how those fit with departmental mandates and government priorities.
I think that provides just a very brief summary of the work that we've done, and I can assure you it is an ongoing exercise. I think Canada can be very proud of the way its public finances are managed, but we are always striving to identify and implement improvements, and we would welcome recommendations.
Marie-France Kenny
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Marie-France Kenny
2012-05-01 8:46
Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne to appear once again before you as part of your study on the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality.
My name is Marie-France Kenny and I am the president of the federation. Today, I am accompanied by our director general, Suzanne Bossé. We are privileged to be the last to appear of the francophone and Acadian community organizations that have appeared before you. This provides us with a wonderful opportunity to draw from everything that has been said to look towards the future and set the foundations for the next initiative, an initiative which, as Senator Comeau put it, is not a new roadmap but rather a GPS to update everything that will follow the roadmap as of 2013.
The participation of all Canadians in our linguistic duality and community support for official language minority communities are the two main pillars of the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. Initiatives and projects that resulted from the roadmap were aimed at meeting these objectives. The community organizations that appeared before you described, in quite eloquent terms, the results that have been achieved. They have mentioned the challenges, but also the successes, the obstacles met along the way, and also the opportunities that have been found.
The mid-term report published by Canadian Heritage a few weeks ago also makes mention of certain successes and progress, but was somewhat laconic when it came to challenges. The testimony provided to this committee regarding the mid-term report shows us that, in looking towards the future, the two objectives of the roadmap remain quite relevant. We are therefore recommending that the government initiative, which will follow the roadmap starting in 2013, should also strive to ensure the participation of all Canadians in linguistic duality and support official language minority communities.
Let us now take a look at the substance of this next government initiative. Francophone and Acadian communities set development priorities in the Strategic Community Plan that resulted from the broad consultative process which took place during the Sommet des communautés francophones et acadienne in 2007. The community representatives who appeared before you are all members of the Leaders' Forum, a group of some 43 organizations and institutions involved in the implementation of this plan. Several of them have, moreover, talked to you about this issue.
Given the objectives that we have just recommended, it would be quite logical and natural that the initiative following the roadmap be aligned closely with this Strategic Community Plan. After all, the government and the communities are both seeking the same result: communities or individuals that have everything they need to be successful and to contribute to the development of our country. The Strategic Community Plan includes five major themes, three of which show the way with respect to the priorities that the post-roadmap initiative will be focusing on; mainly, our population, our space and our development. They too align closely with the priorities of the government.
When we talk about our population, we are talking about strengthening the demographic weight of our communities. We are talking about supporting youths and families so that they will be able to pass on the French language and strengthen their sense of identity through greater access to cultural and heritage activities and child development support programs. We are also talking about strategies to welcome, integrate and retain migrants and immigrants who settle in our regions so that they can be successful and contribute to the development of our communities and regions. Mention, moreover, should be made of roadmap investments that enabled the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to provide better support to our communities in reaching the Strategic Community Plan objectives to promote immigration within the francophone minority communities.
Such support should also be renewed and expanded so as to strengthen, as well, community capacity in this area. The initiative that follows the roadmap should also include the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade so that it can equip communities and embassies to engage in promotion activities abroad. The theme Our Space is about access of francophone citizens to a wide range of activities and services in French delivered effectively, enabling them to participate actively in the growth of their community. It is also about providing a continuum of services that deal with every aspect of daily life, from education to health, from justice to culture, from youths to seniors.
This theme also deals with empowerment, ensuring that citizens themselves become involved in the growth and economic and social well-being of their communities. This leads me to the important consideration of priorities that should be in the initiative following the roadmap.
The implementation of the roadmap was undertaken by a well-coordinated and committed network working on behalf of francophones. The roadmap emphasized services to citizens, but it was the organizations and institutions in the communities that delivered the services.
They did this without any significant strengthening of their capacity. However, it seems to us that the more you invest in the capacity of the service delivery agency, the greater yield you get from the investment in terms of effectiveness, results and client satisfaction. Hence it is important that the initiative following the roadmap focus on service delivery and on strengthening this network of associations and organizations which, from one end of the country to the next, focus on the citizen and are best able to provide services at the least cost.
Let us now examine the theme of development. Francophone and Acadian communities have given themselves the objective of dealing with the aging population and rural exodus, stimulating jobs and economic growth. They want to achieve this by relying on the vitality of their network, on both private and community entrepreneurship, on innovative local development strategies, on the strengthening of human capital, on the acquisition of those skills required to ensure that everyone is successful and on the recognition of foreign credentials.
It is essential, to do this, that the initiative following the roadmap include, in particular, investments in manpower training, either through the development of essential skills such as literacy or through post-secondary education. Supporting entrepreneurship and cultural and heritage tourism initiatives is also important.
I have provided you with a few brushstrokes to give you a general overview of the objectives of the Strategic Community Plan and what will become the next Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. Moreover, I would really like to emphasize the importance of making sure that the primary initiatives of the current roadmap not come to an end on March 31, 2013. These initiatives will create momentum that must not be halted at a time when the benefits are starting to be felt.
I would also like to say a few words about the participation of Canadians in this linguistic duality. In this respect, the current roadmap rolled out certain initiatives which included the implementation of Canada's language portal and universal access to the Termium software.
Although these initiatives are commendable, it is important that we make a distinction between the strengthening of linguistic duality in the public service and in Canadian society. Since the initiative that follows the roadmap will bring us to 2017 and the 150th anniversary of Canada, we would look favourably on any initiatives that would create opportunities for dialogue and exchange amongst Canadians, leading to a better understanding and interest in this linguistic duality.
To conclude, I would like to provide you with a few key concepts regarding the governance of the next Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. We feel that the success of this initiative will depend on the extent to which we define the roles and responsibilities of those called upon to implement it. I am referring here not only to federal institutions but also to provincial, territorial and community governments.
We need to create a management and accountability framework, and our communities need to participate in defining objectives, indicators and timelines. Moreover, community organizations and institutions will no doubt be called upon to play a lead role in implementing this new roadmap, as they were in the case of the current roadmap.
In planning services and in ensuring a positive outcome for such an initiative, it is essential that we all have a good idea of how it is to be implemented along the way. We are recommending that the next roadmap include a monitoring tool that will enable us to follow investments as they are made, by department, by year and by program.
To conclude, I would like to leave you with some more general thoughts. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Hon. James Moore, asked us, last fall, which story francophone and Acadian communities would like to tell in the next roadmap in 2017-2018, as part Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations. We would like to be able to say that the support of the federal government has enabled francophone and Acadian communities to make giant strides in achieving substantive equality, that we have stopped being looked at solely as minorities, but rather as fully-fledged citizens who, shored up by this substantive equality, contribute fully to development and economic prosperity, and that we are more confident than ever that our children and grandchildren will, after us, be able to continue building this country in both official languages.
And finally, we hope that more than ever before, Canadians will have had the opportunity to talk to each other, to understand each other, and to appreciate all of the richness of our linguistic duality.
Thank you.
I am ready to answer your questions.
Joe Sardinha
View Joe Sardinha Profile
Joe Sardinha
2011-10-20 15:32
Thank you very much for this opportunity. Through the miracle of modern technology we're able to participate in these consultations, something I would like to do in person, but unfortunately I'm still harvesting my apple crop here in B.C. It's a little bit late this year, so that has kept me at the farm.
In terms of science and innovation, I believe the right mix of investment in research will lead to innovation at the farm level, resulting in a more competitive and, more importantly, a profitable farm sector. We need to get it right. We also anticipate that the risk management tools we have today and are developing for the future would experience a decline in demand if we do get that basic research flowing correctly throughout the industry.
Research is a vital part of agriculture's unbroken record of improvement in quality and productivity. It is particularly important to Canada as a nation of exports with vast agricultural capacity. Canada has a stake in advancing farm productivity, with research as a key component.
Food security may not be an issue in Canada but it is an issue as food supplies tighten. In Canada we're looking more at the issue of rising food prices than food shortages. Comparing this to the Canadian agricultural sector, where the road of productivity is allowed to slide compared to other competing jurisdictions, we know that other world areas have higher yields than Canada, and we have to continue on the research and innovation front to maintain our competitiveness in that regard.
The value of inventions that are created in Canada can alone compensate for the investment in productivity enhancement. This is particularly important to the tree fruit industry in terms of variety development or the plant breeding programs we currently have. It's key to the innovation in the tree fruit sector.
I want to address a question that we developed here. It states, what are the interests of agricultural producers, especially tree fruit growers in research? Growers are most keenly interested in improvements to horticultural practices, for example, more efficient irrigation, more efficient pruning/thinning, picking, grading, and storage of produce, using automation and computer technology. As I've said, the development of new varieties that are suited to our northern climate is extremely important, as is more environmentally friendly pest control, which builds on successes of integrated and area-wide pest management, enabling producers to manage both current and emerging pest and disease issues. We are an importing nation and seem to be landing new insect and disease species on our shores on an ongoing basis.
What is the reality? We've seen with Growing Forward 1 that the delivery of research programs to high-value Canadian horticulture needs to be upgraded so that we are competitive and build value for Canadians.
The switch that established national research science clusters was well intentioned but poorly implemented. It took longer that expected to launch and the criteria and eligibility of research projects changed up to the final moment.
The Canadian Horticulture Council assumed the role of administrator of the edible horticultural science cluster and has done a commendable job in dealing with the many changes to the science initiative since its inception. Under the CHC's guidance, the Canadian apple industry, a very big part of which I am in, invested substantial effort in synthesizing provincial research priorities into national research priorities. The industry then worked to develop its top three project proposals, as did other commodity representatives of the CHC. Application deadlines were met, but the guidelines changed after the fact, and two of the industry's three proposals were turned down because they involved federal research employees at AAFC research centres—some of the criteria that was not spelled out from the outset of the industry developing its research priorities.
The process really undermines the industry's confidence in investing all this time and effort when projects are rejected for what we feel are new and inconsequential reasons.
Following that debacle, the CHC was informed just this past summer that additional unallocated funding existed for the horticultural science cluster. It was a last-minute scramble by all to submit new project proposals in a very short timeframe to take advantage of this additional funding that no one knew anything about prior to the government's announcement. The apple industry did submit for a new project, but this was done in a very ad hoc way and it didn't really follow the priority-setting process that we had used in identifying our previous three projects.
So was it the right project for our scarce resources? Perhaps not, but it certainly exposed some inadequacies in the funding process, and certainly all the changes we've been hit with in the cluster initiative have led to much confusion.
If agricultural associations are willing to commit their share of research investment, it's perhaps time that government programs are made more transparent at the outset, and certainly the science cluster initiative could have used more transparency and better program development because we saw far too many changes throughout the implementation of the program. We need less bureaucracy so as not to sideswipe industry’s efforts to capitalize on research that I believe will ultimately enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the agricultural sector.
We do have some Growing Forward 2 recommendations that we'd like to propose to your committee. The government has increased other types of agriculture and processing research at the expense of horticultural practices, often referred to as primary production research. We recommend ensuring the level of funding for research and horticultural practices be balanced with other research needs.
The government has let key research positions go unfilled when retirements occur or are imminent. In a round of consultations a few years ago, this was a high priority to resolve, yet no strategy is emerging, and the erosion of our science capacity continues.
For tree fruit, we recommend that a weed scientist, a post-harvest physiologist, and a plant breeder be hired to replace recently retired or soon to be retired scientists at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland.
We recommend that advisory committees for research stations, composed of producers nominated by provincial commodity associations, be re-established, with meaningful input into business plans, including succession planning for researchers and adequate and balanced resources required for senior researchers and technical staff to ensure a balance between horticultural and other types of research.
Lastly, we recommend that the federal government provide incentives for consolidation of research. We believe that research can take on a more focused approach throughout research stations across Canada. We recommend that Agriculture Canada's research branch take strong measures to re-establish consolidation of research activities, such that we may not have a model where we're doing horticultural research at every station across Canada, but we will have what I believe will be centres of excellence for applied research that will deal with horticultural issues, grain, grains and oilseeds issues, and animal and livestock issues--so it is more targeted, much more efficient, and we can have the appropriate expertise placed at those positions.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to present. I did want to speed it up, so if there are any questions, I would be more than willing to answer them.
Thank you.
Suzanne Legault
View Suzanne Legault Profile
Suzanne Legault
2011-09-22 8:50
Good morning, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
Good morning to all the members.
Good morning. I'm very pleased to appear before you today as the committee starts its work on access to information, privacy, and ethics in this 41st Parliament.
You will find in the package that was distributed to you a number of documents that provide more information about my mandate, the accomplishments and priorities of my office, as well as a report and action plan related to a recent audit of our investigative processes. My opening remarks, unfortunately, are not finished being translated, so we will bring them to the committee a little bit later this afternoon.
Clearly this committee plays a crucial role in holding the government to account. You're vested with the responsibility of ensuring that the Canadian government's transparency agenda fulfills Canadians' needs and expectations for timely disclosure of valuable public sector information. Indeed, timely access to public sector information drives democracy and citizen engagement.
In an era of highly developed and ever-evolving information in communication technologies, it is the fluidity of public sector information that is key to competitiveness and socio-economic growth. That being said, it's important to remember that not all government information should be disclosed. As the Supreme Court of Canada stated last year:
Access to information in the hands of public institutions can increase transparency in government, contribute to an informed public, and enhance an open and democratic society. Some information in the hands of those institutions is, however, entitled to protection in order to prevent the impairment of those very principles and promote good governance.
It's a very delicate balancing act.
One of my responsibilities as Information Commissioner of Canada is to ensure that this right balance is struck. My annual report, tabled in June 2011, highlights the activities of my office in this endeavour.
The core of my mandate is to investigate complaints under the Access to Information Act. I am proud to report that we completed more than 2,000 cases for a second consecutive year.
We reduced by 8% the average time needed to complete investigations, and we further decreased our inventory at year-end by 11%. This success is due to a combination of efficiency gains, agile case management and collaboration with institutions. Overall, we can count on institutions' collaboration in resolving issues and implementing recommendations.
However, to deal with more complicated problems of non-compliance, I issued last year seven reports of findings with formal recommendations to heads of institutions. After the reports had been issued, three of these cases were ultimately resolved and the recommendations implemented. The four remaining cases are now before the courts.
I bring forward or intervene in legal proceedings when important principles of access legislation must be defended or clarified. This is the case with proceedings involving the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canada Post Corporation.
To maximize compliance with the act, we must address the root causes of widespread or recurrent issues that adversely impact the timeliness and quantity of information disclosed. I take a systemic approach to assessing and investigating institutions' compliance. My goal is always to provide institutions, central agencies, and Parliament a thorough, fact-based diagnostic with specific and tailored solutions to guide efforts for improvements.
Last year, we implemented year two of our three-year plan for report cards and systemic investigations. The exercise included the assessment of a group of crown corporations and agents of Parliament that had recently come under the act. We followed up with 13 institutions that had performed poorly in previous assessments. Based on the data collected, we also launched a systemic investigation into the sources of delays, particularly mandatory consultations.
We are also investigating allegations of interference with the access to information process at Public Works and Government Services Canada.
In the current context of fiscal restraint, all institutions must seek more efficient ways to serve Canadians. This is why, upon taking office, I undertook a strategic planning process with my staff and key stakeholders to determine priorities and chart a roadmap for the first years of my term.
This plan will help us achieve significant outcomes in three key areas: exemplary service delivery; a well-governed workplace of choice; and a leading access to information regime.
To provide exemplary service, we will continue to refine our case management strategies while developing a comprehensive talent management framework. In this endeavour, we will build on the results from the audit of our investigative processes.
Mr. Chair, that is what I did last year as part of our internal auditing, in the wake of the incidents within the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
I commissioned an audit of my investigative function at the OIC, and I made sure that the criteria that the OAG had used to do its audit of the Integrity Commissioner's office was incorporated into the audit we conducted.
This morning, as part of the documents before you, I've tabled the results of this audit, which basically show that our investigative function conforms with our legislation. It made some recommendations, which we plan to incorporate into our action plan this fall.
Mr. Chairman, you can count on my continued support and advice to foster a leading access regime. I applaud the Canadian government for its commitment in the Speech from the Throne to ensuring that citizens, the private sector, and other partners have improved access to the workings of government through open data, open information, and open dialogue.
Minister Clement has taken the helm of the open government initiative, which notably includes an open information component that promises to take access to information closer to the digital age. I also welcome Minister Baird's commitment this week to having Canada join the multinational open government partnership. We will follow these government initiatives with great interest. In my view, they are key to embedding a culture of openness in federal institutions.
However, an open government initiative and a commitment to transparency must include a willingness to improve the efficiency of our access to information regime. In this area much work remains to be done. As reflected in Treasury Board statistics, over the past ten years there has been a steady decline in the timeliness and disclosure of information by federal institutions.
Current needs and expectations of Canadians require that we reverse this declining trend in timeliness and disclosure. I've committed to using all the powers and tools at my disposal to influence this outcome, starting with effective and timely investigations of complaints.
Mr. Chair, next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the Access to Information Act. I submit that the way forward must include the review and modernization of the act to bring our regime up to par with the most progressive international models. In preparation for this event, I have started an in-depth review of international benchmarking of our legislation to be in a position to advise Parliament of necessary amendments to the act.
To provide information about our work, I will be hosting the International Conference of Information Commissioners, which will be held in Canada for the first time, in collaboration with the Canadian Bar Association from October 3 to 5.
This forum will provide an excellent opportunity for commissioners, practitioners and advocates to exchange ideas for the advancement of access to information principles.
I am very excited to host this important event here in Ottawa. I invite you all to join the discussions, as we have an agreement with the Canadian Bar Association to allow all the committee members to attend the conference and some of the presentations.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and unwavering dedication of my staff, to whom I owe much of our accomplishments.
I urge this committee to continue to advocate for more open government, for more timely and greater access to information.
Mr. Chair, I am now ready to answer any questions the members may have.
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