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Results: 121 - 150 of 1068
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
We are at item 2.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
We are at item 2, so we are now talking about the business arising from the previous meeting.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Exactly.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
I have a few comments and a few requests to make to the members of the Board of Internal Economy, or the board for short.
So far, we have done a good job, and there may be a few things left to address in relation to all the means used to allow for better interpretation and participation of members of Parliament in both official languages. I had the privilege of attending the last meeting of the Liaison Committee, where we discussed the report on parliamentary committee expenses that was tabled in the House of Commons today.
I asked a few questions that I am submitting to you to see if the board would agree to formally make this request to the clerks and the Liaison Committee. I was curious to know how many headsets had been purchased, which was not mentioned in the report. However, it is an indicator that would tell us how many headsets we manage to send to witnesses so that they are able to testify and have their comments interpreted into both languages. I would like to pay tribute to all the work the clerks do. They have made a dashboard to ensure that witnesses are called and that the connection and the equipment is tested before they appear.
It would be interesting to draw up a follow-up dashboard. Indeed, since new practices are being introduced to improve witness participation in both official languages, we should ensure that their testimony is properly interpreted and that they have a good connection and functioning equipment. However, in order to be able to evaluate these measures, records must be kept on each committee and each witness so that the board can then determine whether the continuous improvement process has been successful or whether more resources or other means are required to further improve it.
I would like to propose today that the members of the board compile the number of headsets that have been purchased in the latest report that was tabled in the House today. In addition, can the clerks create a dashboard to track new measures to assess their effectiveness as they are introduced and to continuously improve them? They would report to the board in the next quarter so that together we can be proud of the efforts we have all made to ensure that all members and witnesses are able to work in either official language and are assured that their interventions are properly interpreted.
I submit this request to you under item 2, Mr. Speaker, but I do not know if my colleagues agree with me.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do we all agree with these requests?
Everyone is in agreement.
Mr. Janse, would you like to say a few words on this? I know it's within your purview.
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Eric Janse
View Eric Janse Profile
Eric Janse
2021-02-25 11:20
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker and Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
Following the discussion at the Liaison Committee meeting earlier this week, I have already begun discussions with my team and with our colleague, Mr. Stéphan Aubé. Yes, we will be able to provide statistics to the Liaison Committee and the board on the number of headsets. We will also be able to provide, as you have suggested, a dashboard to record the number of incidents. We hope that the statistics will show a decrease in incidents as a result of the new process we will have put in place.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
All right.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you very much.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you for your intervention.
Are there any other questions or comments? Does everyone agree on item 2?
Since everyone is in agreement, we now move on to item 4.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'm sorry, Mr. Richards. Please go ahead.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-02-25 11:21
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While we're on the topic of interpretation, it might be a good time to discuss the point that I want to raise as well. As you know, Chair—and I'm sure others are aware—I had raised a question of privilege in the House about this issue. You didn't find a prima facie case for it, but it doesn't mean that it isn't an issue and one that maybe we should discuss. It centres around the resources that are available for committees.
We're finding that committees are being prevented from continuing their meetings or finishing items of business they're needing to finish, particularly when there ends up being a filibuster or something like that. We even had it go so far that one day when there was only the one meeting, there we still not resources available apparently.
I think we do need to have a discussion about this and how we might find ways to ensure that those resources can be made available. Maybe it's a question for some of our folks in administration. Are there ways that we can find to address these things so that they don't occur?
Whether it was considered a breach of privilege or not, it certainly is problematic to the workings of Parliament when a committee is prevented from continuing its work based on a lack of interpretation available or rooms, or things like that. Is there something we could do to be looking at ways to focus the resources or to bring in new resources to help address these challenges?
I'm not sure if there's someone here who is able to address those points, but I think it's something that we do need to have a conversation about.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I believe Mr. Patrice and Mr. Gagnon have some comments on that, but if it's okay, we'll go to Mr. Julian first. He may have some points, and then they can answer all the questions at once.
Mr. Julian.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I agree with Mrs. DeBellefeuille and Mr. Richards. It is problematic.
Our country advocates the equality of the two official languages. This means that in committees and in Parliament, we must have access to interpretation services at all times. Interpreters are extremely dedicated and they work hard. However, there is a significant lack of resources, which has already been recognized, but is now critical.
Unfortunately, in all likelihood, there will be a third wave of the pandemic. This means that resources will have to be in place for parliamentarians to continue their work in virtual mode.
The issue that has just been raised is crucial. It is important that we respond by putting the necessary resources in place to ensure that employees are treated well and that their health and safety are not jeopardized.
In addition, committee members must be able to meet while having the resources to work.
For all these reasons, I stress the importance of responding to this urgent need, as my colleagues have done.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Gagnon, can you answer the questions that have been asked?
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André Gagnon
View André Gagnon Profile
André Gagnon
2021-02-25 11:25
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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Thank you, Mr. Richards.
Thank you as well, Mr. Julian.
Following the Speaker's ruling on the events in the health committee that led to the question of privilege raised by Mr. Richards, there was a protocol that was shared with all of the parties that would essentially guide the administration with respect to requests from committees either to pursue—
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
The interpreter tells me that Mr. Gagnon's microphone is not near his mouth and that this makes interpretation difficult.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
All right. If I may, I would like to point out that when Skype is running in the background, it causes problems. This is what I have found with my own computer. When Skype, Teams and Zoom are running, there is interference between them.
You can check on your computer whether Skype is working.
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View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
This is not the case for me.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
On our side, it is more when we talk. I just wanted to share this information with you.
I give the floor back to Mr. Gagnon.
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André Gagnon
View André Gagnon Profile
André Gagnon
2021-02-25 11:27
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I am sorry for all this.
I was, I believe, on the issue of protocols issued to the parties to manage requests arising from extensions, extensions of [Technical difficulty].
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Gagnon, we can't hear you at all because of technical problems.
We will therefore give the floor to Mr. Patrice, who is here.
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Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2021-02-25 11:27
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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
I am not going to presume to know what Mr. Gagnon was going to talk about. He can continue along the same lines later on.
Indeed, the question of resources is of great concern to us in the administration. We are in further discussions with our partners to try to assess and determine the extent to which we could add slots for committee activities, particularly when the House is sitting. As you are aware, committee resources and activities have increased significantly, particularly since November.
According to the figures and statistics, which I will be happy to provide to the board members, the rate of time slot usage is much higher than in previous years. The House Administration and its partners are doing their utmost to meet the needs of members and provide them with the time slots they require.
As for the weeks when the House is not sitting, I want to report, with respect to resource issues,
the unfortunate incident at the Friday meeting when there was only one committee meeting, when we could and should have supported that committee. It was a miscommunication that occurred. We own that mistake. The protocol will no doubt avoid a situation like that recurring.
In the non-sitting weeks, there's definitely more availability of sitting time, whether it's for committees or associations, because the utilization rate of those weeks is not as high as during sitting weeks.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other questions or comments?
Are we ready to move on to the next step or the next item?
I see that we are.
We'll go on to item number four, which is the extension of certain temporary COVID-19 measures to the fiscal year 2021-22.
We'll go to Monsieur Paquette, chief financial officer.
Monsieur Paquette.
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Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:30
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
This presentation follows up on the analysis with respect to temporary measures in effect due to COVID-19 that was presented to the board last December. At that meeting, the House administration advised the board that we would continue to monitor the use of those various policies, the expenses that members were incurring and how they were to evolve. We would then return here to the board for any recommendations, if any were needed.
I must note that these temporary measures are all set to expire on March 31, 2021.
We have observed that the use of these temporary measures has continued since the last analysis I presented to you in December. Despite the pandemic, members of Parliament continue to provide services to their fellow citizens. As a result of our consultations, we understand the need to maintain these measures for an extended period of time.
The House administration recommends that the board, as part of the measures taken to address and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, approve extending the temporary measures through March 31, 2022. These temporary measures include the purchase of consumable items to ensure that COVID-19 preventive measures are in place in constituency offices, and an increase to the advertising limit to communicate with constituents.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes my presentation. I'm open to any questions the members may have.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Do we have any questions or comments?
Mr. Julian and then Mr. Richards.
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View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank Mr. Paquette and the House administration.
I certainly support the extension of these measures. In our case, in downtown New Westminster where my constituency office is, those measures have allowed us to put up plexiglass panels to protect our employees. We're in a very high-traffic area in the downtown area. Even though our office is largely functioning virtually, when constituents do need to come in, my staff are protected.
I think that these measures have been sensible, and they've been effective, allowing members of Parliament to make the important adjustments that come with this pandemic.
The new variants of COVID-19 are worrisome, as we all know, and many people are predicting a third wave coming this spring. It makes sense, then, I believe, for us to extend the measures so that members of Parliament and their employees can be protected and can continue to serve their constituents in a way that protects everybody.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Very good.
Mr. Richards.
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View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blake Richards Profile
2021-02-25 11:33
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I agree. There's been some usage or take-up of these measures. I would certainly agree with extending them.
I guess where I would have an issue is this. We're talking about an extension to March 31, 2022, and we're hearing from the government that by the end of September we will have all Canadians vaccinated who want to be vaccinated. One would assume, then, that at that point we'd be able to make some kind of a shift in terms of Parliament's moving back towards more normal sitting scenarios, or certainly something closer to that. Obviously, some of these measures, then, would no longer be needed as well.
If the government does fail to meet that target, we can always look at extending it beyond September—that is, if the government isn't able to live up to the promise it's made. If it does, then we should be able to see some change in these things in September.
Perhaps what we should do right now is to set the renewal date as September, and we can always look at it again, if needed, in September.
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I now give the floor to Mrs. DeBellefeuille. Mr. Deltell and Mr. LeBlanc will follow.
You have the floor, Mrs. DeBellefeuille.
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