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Results: 271 - 300 of 1068
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Good. Thank you.
The third matter is more a comment than a question.
Mr. Stanton, I'd like to thank you and congratulate you on the quality of your French. Just because we've been talking about it so much of late doesn't mean we need to talk about it even more, but I did want to point out that you've always spoken French, and I'm truly grateful for it.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:30
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Thank you very much, Mr. Deltell.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll now go to Mr. Rodriguez.
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View Pablo Rodriguez Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Deltell has asked the two questions I wanted to ask. Thank you.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions?
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
I can confirm that there has not been any collusion, Mr. Chair.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's too bad. It's gratifying to see people working together.
Are there any other questions?
Mr. Stanton, thank you for your dedication. I know you've been putting a lot of time into this, and I want to thank your team as well. We look forward to seeing you again with more good news.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-12-03 11:31
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Thank you very much.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Stanton.
Do we approve the five recommendations?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Great, you have good news to bring back.
The next item is proposed 2021-22 main estimates. Our presenter is Daniel Paquette, chief financial officer.
Mr. Paquette, you have the floor.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:31
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Thank you Mr. Chair.
I'm here to present the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for approval by the Board of Internal Economy. The estimates summarize the funding for items already approved by the board. There will accordingly not be any new funding requests during this presentation.
The proposed main estimates for 2021-22 total $543.7 million, an increase of 5.3% over the main estimates for the previous year.
In compliance with the Parliament of Canada Act, the House must prepare an estimate of the sums that will be required to pay the expenditures for the fiscal year to come and shall transmit the estimate to the Treasury Board, with the estimates of the government of Canada.
The main estimates for the House of Commons include an estimate of voted appropriations and statutory items. The voted appropriations are estimated at $383.5 million. They include the expenditures of MPs and senior officials; committee, parliamentary association and exchange expenditures; and administrative expenditures.
The statutory items are estimated at $160.2 million. These include salaries and allowances for members and House officers; contributions to members of Parliament retiring allowances; and contributions to employee benefit plans.
These main estimates include the cost of living increases based on previously approved policies and existing legislation. These are the office budgets and supplements for members and House officers, as well as the travel status expense accounts for 2021-22, which have been increased by 1% for a total of $1.7 million. This is in accordance with the adjusted consumer price index.
The main estimates also include a budget adjustment of $1.2 million to some members' office budgets to account for changes in elector supplement, following the general election in 2019. In addition, the sessional allowance and additional salaries for members and House officers have been increased by 2.1% or $1.3 million, as provided by the Parliament of Canada Act.
Economic increases for House administration employees, which were approved by the board earlier this year, amount to $5.6 million, which has been included in the main estimates for the next fiscal year.
In addition, these main estimates include the funding related to initiatives that have recently been approved. That is a net increase of $4.5 million for the long-term vision and plan, $6.6 million for security enhancements for members, as well as the $5.2 million in funding to stabilize various administrative functions within the House administration.
The main estimates include a decrease of $1 million related to the funding for conferences, associations and assemblies, leaving $300,000 for the 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which was postponed from this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is now planned to take place in August 2021.
Finally, an increase of $700,000 in contributions to members' pension plans has been included due to the revised contribution rates for members.
I would like to point out that while we are still considering uncertainty surrounding the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impact on operations and associated public health measures that will be required, these main estimates have been prepared using the planning assumption that operations would return to near normal during the upcoming fiscal year.
This has been done to ensure that sufficient funding is available to meet the needs of the House over the coming year. That being said, we'd like to assure you that we will continue to monitor these unprecedented and evolving situations, and will take any necessary adjustments over the course of the year to ensure we can continue to adapt operations of the House to make sure we meet the needs of members in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the board approve the proposed 2021-22 main estimates for the House of Commons for the amount of $543.7 million.
This funding will be divided between two programs: $321 million for members and House officers, and $222.7 for the House administration.
This concludes my presentation on the proposed main estimates. We can answer questions the members may have.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Julian has the first round of questions.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much.
I honestly find it disturbing that the main estimates show an increase of approximately 5% over last year. The inflation rate is around 1%. In the presentation you just made—and I thank you very much for it, Mr. Paquette—you say that salaries rose, which is normal, but also that expenses for computers, security and administration also increased. You also discussed the effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had during the past year and that it will also have over the next fiscal year.
Mr. Paquette, I'm going to ask you two questions. First, can you tell us, in general terms, about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential repercussions for next year's main estimates?
Second, do you anticipate that the main estimates won't be as high? I think people expect that overall budgets won't increase significantly during the pandemic and that they'll be reasonable. If the main estimates rise considerably relative to last year, but the supplementary estimates are much lower next year, we'll approach a balanced budget. However, it will be more disturbing if there are just as many increases in the supplementary estimates.
Thank you for all the details included in these estimates.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Go ahead, Mr. Paquette.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:38
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There is an item on expenditures during the pandemic a little further on in the agenda. We'll be discussing the impacts on this year in greater detail. As for the current trend, some expenditures are lower because we can't travel, create events or provide training. The reductions are greater than the additional costs stemming from the need to adapt to this new environment. We will address those items in more detail.
Here's some brief background. Some changes have occurred in the House administration and the House itself over the past two or three years, and many new technologies have been adopted. There is the new Parliamentary Precinct as well as the West Block and the new buildings. New statutes are having an impact on occupational health and safety—you mentioned security, Mr. Julian—as well as accessibility.
What we see in the proposed main estimates for 2021-2022 is the investment we need to develop the competencies and capacity that will ensure this transformation continues into the future.
As for the supplementary estimates, all we have at this stage is the reprofiling of funds, which is one of our standard practices. We aren't anticipating these amounts. This year—and I mean the current year—we requested a little more than a reprofile of funds, since previously negotiated collective agreements had a retroactive effect. Without anticipating surpluses that might have resulted from the pandemic, we wanted to ensure we had the necessary funds to meet our financial requirements.
At this point, we believe that no projects or initiatives will raise our supplementary estimates above normal levels. We are seeking only the usual reprofile of funds for next year.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions? I see there aren't any.
Do we approve this recommendation?
Agreed. Very well.
Now we will move on to item five, quarterly financial report for the second quarter of 2020-2021.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:41
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Pardon me, Mr. Chair. I thought I had raised by hand and I hadn't. I did want to ask a couple of questions.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We'll go back then. Please ask your questions. Mr. Paquette is still with us.
Please go ahead.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:41
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There are a couple of things I wanted to touch on. One was similar in nature to Mr. Julian's questions, but I'll leave it for the second part.
The other side of this is that some areas have seen decreases as well. One of them was the office of the law clerk and also legal services. I'm just concerned because I know at the health committee, the law clerk indicated to us that there were some resource constraints he faced in vetting some of the documents that he is going to have to do in response to the order made by the House on the 26th of October.
I'm just wondering if we can have any comment on that decrease in resources, and whether the law clerk has the resources he needs now to be able to process those documents that the House and its committees have asked him to vet and to redact.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
That's very good.
I'll open it up.
Go ahead, Mr. Dufresne.
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Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-12-03 11:42
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Thank you, Mr. Richards.
The indication about increases in resources for the legal services at the House were increases that occurred in this past year. In terms of your question with respect to the committee, I did appear in front of the health committee last week and gave information about what we are expecting in terms of the potential volume of disclosure. We indicated that we had organized our resources to be prepared to deal with the task that the House has given us and we gave some parameters in terms of volume and the time that it would take us to review a certain number of documents.
To give a sense to the committee, there had been some testimony about documents being in the millions of pages. That gave us a sense that it may take some time, but we were prepared to do what was necessary to achieve our task.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:43
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You don't feel there are any additional resources that you require to be able to complete that in a timely fashion.
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Philippe Dufresne
View Philippe Dufresne Profile
Philippe Dufresne
2020-12-03 11:43
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We indicated we could conduct the review of about 50,000 documents in seven days. There was talk of a much higher number than that, but we don't know yet how many we will receive. We also indicated that we would advise the committee as soon as we knew the specific number so that next steps could be considered.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:44
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On the other side of things, I share the concern generally about some pretty large increases. Mr. Julian has addressed them to a large degree, but I want to touch on it specifically. Looking at line items, there are some pretty huge increases in specific line items. Two of the largest were employee relations, which is a 78% increase, I believe, and human resources service centre, which is a 76% increase. One of the others that is among the larger ones is occupational health, safety and environment, which is up 26%. Those all seem to group together in the category of labour and employment issues.
Is that driven by the pandemic or is there something else that it's responding to? Those are pretty alarming increases.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:45
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I'll start, and then ask my peer, Ms. Laframboise, to add to it.
Some of that are the increases related to when we talked about the capacity for HR services for members. That was increased last year, and now we're stabilizing the funding. Then there was some capacity relating to some of the new legislation that was also stabilized this year. If I'm not mistaken, there has been some reallocation of resources and alignments within HR.
I'll let Ms. Laframboise address the items more closely.
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Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2020-12-03 11:45
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Thank you, Mr. Paquette.
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Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2020-12-03 11:46
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In essence, one of the questions you asked was around the large increase to the HR service centre. That group is a new unit that was put in place in response to the implementation of the enterprise resource planning program and system. The ERP is an integrated resource planning function that, over the long term, is going to help us align and streamline our resources and stabilize the organization indefinitely, which in the long term will help us manage our funding and our resources better.
That is one piece of it. The other part you spoke about was occupational health and safety. There absolutely has been an increase in that function as a result of the implementation of Bill C-65, keeping in mind that we onboarded the members and the organization to a relatively significant piece of legislation, put in place the regulations, and adopted and incorporated new programs and new policies. There was definitely a significant amount of training to onboard Bill C-65. That is definitely an increase as well.
Our plan going forward is to stabilize the organization, to leverage the enterprise resource planning in the integrated business planning piece and to maintain and continue our protections and our policies under the auspices of Bill C-65.
Those are the bigger pieces of what you asked about.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:48
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What you're saying to me is that it's been established in response to Bill C-65.
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Michelle Laframboise
View Michelle Laframboise Profile
Michelle Laframboise
2020-12-03 11:48
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A very large portion of it is Bill C-65.
As I mentioned earlier, we have 17 programs and policies that need amending. The employer's obligations are significant and require a lot of work up front. In the long term, hopefully we'll be able to stabilize that, potentially looking at aligning and streamlining some of those resources going forward. It is absolutely my plan to do that.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2020-12-03 11:48
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Okay.
More broadly, I want to get a sense of what measures are in place internally to slow down expenditure growth. Mr. Julian mentioned that we're seeing an increase of over 5% in what we're seeing here, but I believe if you look back from 2014 until now, there has been a 29% increase in the expenditures in the House's estimates. This is a pretty large increase over a five- or six-year period.
I'm wondering what measures are in place to ensure that this expenditure growth can be slowed down. What should the board being looking at? Is there any advice you can provide us on what we can be looking at as a board in terms of measures that can be put in place to ensure that we have stronger fiscal prudence and stronger controls and to make sure that we're not seeing these continual increases year over year?
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