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Results: 1 - 30 of 77
Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:12
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
With this submission, I am seeking the board's directions about the request made by a member for temporary exceptions to the board's bylaws and policies. The member is requesting that you temporarily allow for reimbursement of members' accommodations, meals and incidental expenses for voluntary self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically when travelling between the national capital region and the constituency.
Existing board regulations and policies do not generally allow for members to be reimbursed for the costs they incur in quarantining themselves near their homes. Guidelines issued by provincial and territorial public health authorities generally indicate that alternative accommodation is not necessary. However, guidelines can vary considerably from one province or territory to another and tend to change very quickly. For this reason, we are consulting with you to determine if a temporary exception would be appropriate during this exceptional period.
This concludes my presentation. We can answer questions from members.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-04-22 11:16
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am making a submission to obtain direction from the board on a request that has been submitted by three members of Parliament regarding the reimbursement of voluntary carbon offset credits.
Last month, the board received a letter stating that the new regulations of the Assemblée nationale du Québec allowed for the reimbursement of carbon offset credits purchased for travel between the constituency and the Assemblée nationale as well as for the energy consumption of their premises related to constituency office activities.
In their letter, the members ask the board to consider adopting similar practices for members of the House of Commons.
Under the current board bylaws and policies, members and their authorized travellers may only use travel resources provided to them in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions. Although travel is necessary to carry out these functions, the purchase of carbon offset continues to be a voluntary measure that is not imposed by any legislation or regulation and is considered to be a traveller's personal choice.
Also, current bylaws and policies do not allow members to use goods and services provided by the House to donate to any cause or benefit, or support a third party. In 2015, the board considered a similar request at which time it determined that the purchase of carbon offsets for travel did not constitute an auditable use of House resources and would be deemed a donation. The House administration has been applying this decision since then.
Following this recent request, we are seeking the board's direction on this matter. Should the board direct the administration to consider the reimbursement of voluntary carbon emission offsets purchased by the members, then the administration would perform the needed analysis and consultation and come back to the board with the appropriate recommendation to be able to do so.
This concludes my presentation. We are ready to answer questions from members.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-03-25 11:49
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am here today to seek the Board of Internal Economy's approval to update and harmonize certain policies in the Members' Allowances and Services Manual and the Members By-law in relation to the dissolution and the post-election or transition period.
Following the last general election and in light of the challenges raised by members of Parliament and House officers, as well as issues raised by others and heard during consultations, the administration noted opportunities to update certain Board policies. I will provide an overview of some of the recommendations that are in the submission.
To begin with, the current post-election travel policy does not allow eligible employees of members of Parliament to travel between the constituency and Ottawa following a general election to assist the members of Parliament in closing their files and vacating their offices. In order to properly support members of Parliament, we recommend that eligible incumbent employees be provided with the same post-election travel allowances as outgoing members between the constituency and Ottawa.
Next are two closely related items pertaining to access to the parliamentary precinct network and the purchase of cellphones. Under current policy, members who are not seeking re-election have access to the parliamentary precinct until the day before the general election, and members who are not re-elected have access to the network for 21 days after the election.
These former members must also return their telecommunication equipment such as their cellphones. The current time frames do not allow enough time for former members to complete the administrative tasks and to settle the accounts with the House.
Extending the duration of access to the network would better serve members in settling their accounts. The administration here is recommending that external access to the parliamentary precinct network be increased to 90 days following the election for members who are not seeking re-election or who are not re-elected. They would retain one House-managed portable device during that period to facilitate the process. This would also align with the period that members have to settle their financial accounts.
As for cellphones, former members have expressed an interest in purchasing their devices to help ensure a certain continuity at a time when they are experiencing many changes. It is our proposal that, following an election, these members be allowed to purchase their cellphones for personal use at a fair market value.
Other recommendations relate to the mandatory clauses in constituency office leases. This proposal builds on revised assignment clauses approved by the board in 2015 where the leases of former members are assigned to the House for the 120 day period following an election. The administration noticed opportunities for further improvements, which would help facilitate a smooth transition between former and newly elected members. These revised clauses would be included in new constituency office leases or the extension of existing leases after the next general election.
Also, with respect to transition support, the administration is recommending adjustments to better align the policies and by-laws in order to ensure that former members can effectively use these various transition supports.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation. We are here to answer any questions that board members may have.
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Daniel Paquette
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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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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:40
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I'll transfer that to our CHRO. She's the one responsible for the health and safety programs.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2021-02-25 11:47
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I am going to present the quarterly financial report for the third quarter of 2020-2021.
Quarterly financial reports compare year-to-date financial information for the current fiscal year to the same quarter the previous year. As with the first quarter and second quarter reports presented earlier this year, we are once again comparing two atypical years.
This year, the pandemic is affecting our spending trends, while the previous year was marked by a general election. As a result, our comparisons will be influenced by the atypical spending patterns that you may have already noted in our reports.
Let us now turn to the report. As of December 31, the approved authorities for fiscal year 2020-2021 were $539 million. There have been no changes to our approved authorities since my second quarterly report to you in December.
Expenses to December 31 totalled $344.2 million, a decrease of $6.2 million, or 1.8%, from the previous year.
The most significant decreases in expenditures relate to the continuing decrease in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Decreases have also been seen in the areas of training and hospitality across the whole organization, as well as the reduction of temporary help services for members and House officers—also all as a result of COVID-19.
The temporary closure of some of the food services facilities and the printing facilities earlier in the year has led to reduced costs for materials and supplies, which have been partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as face masks and hand sanitizers that are used across the House of Commons.
Expenditures for computers, office equipment, furniture and fixtures have also decreased, primarily due to changes in the timing of some of our life-cycle activities. This decrease was partially offset by costs incurred for purchases to support virtual House proceedings and committees, and costs incurred for equipment that enabled House administration employees to work remotely during this COVID pandemic.
On the other hand, expenditures for salaries and benefits have increased, mainly due to additional spending on members' employee salaries and the cost of living increases for members and House administration staff. These increases have been partially offset by the reduction in the number of employees for members and House officers, delays in some of the staffing and a reduction in part-time costs and overtime as a result of the pandemic.
Finally, the report does provide a comparison of the utilization of our authorities, which shows a decrease of 3.4%, which is not unexpected given the current situation. Also, given this current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering any potential savings, as well as any financial impact that may have on our funding decisions due to this truly exceptional year.
Mr. Speaker, that concludes my presentation.
I am ready to answer questions from members of the committee.
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Daniel Paquette
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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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Daniel Paquette
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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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Daniel Paquette
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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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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:49
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I can reassure you that definitely in the last two or three years we have been putting a lot of effort into making sure, if we come forward with any requests for funding, we do an assessment and make sure we restabilize some of the resources and realign where we can to make sure the requests are only for what we need.
There has been a progression of many legislative changes or other demands around services. The cost of living is obviously one of the big ones here, and there are some pieces above and beyond that. There are incremental services when we look at some of the pieces of legislation around disclosure and legislation around health and safety. Then we have the increased capacity around services for members, around HR, around the security that's more recent and around the onboarding. The most significant portion of the growth over the last three or four years has been the onboarding and taking control of the various new buildings in the parliamentary precinct. For those we made sure we challenged the work with the experts and just asked for what we needed to maintain these various systems and the tools given to us for that assignment.
Many of these things are outside of the control of the administration to react ahead of time to try to manage these. We try to make sure our request for funding is limited to what is needed to maintain and support the infrastructure.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:52
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The report we provided to you, with the documentation at this time, represents the staff on force at the time we prepared the documentation. It gives you a full sense of how many people we have working at the precinct. Previously, the 1,700 or so people you saw were representing more or less the numbers that we're looking at: the actual full-time indeterminates, full-time long-term terms, or long-term terms part time. It didn't have some of our short-term seasonal workers and it didn't have many of the other people we have who are supporting and who are not necessarily there on a permanent basis at the precinct.
For you to have a full picture, we made sure we had the complete on-site at that particular point in time. My apologies; we should have had a note to that effect on the documentation that we were presenting a different number, not a growth in numbers.
That said, there has been some growth, given all of the items I identified earlier. Many of the services we offer require the capacity to support that, and that growth is there, but it's not the 21% difference that you see in the documentation.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
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I don't have that number in front of me. We could reproduce the report you received last time for the main estimates on the same basis so you can have that, and we can provide that to the board members to have a better analysis.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
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No, I can't at this point, because I look at so many different numbers and I don't typically have the FTE numbers or full-time staff with the financial ones.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:54
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Yes.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:55
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Definitely, we can work with the board members and list out all the various services that we provide and provide an opportunity to balance off and maybe reduce some of the service levels or the types of services we offer to support members.
We can also offer to look at what I'll call the back office that supports all of these to make sure we keep those under control going forward. We have been doing some of this, but we can definitely work with the members of the board to do a bit more.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 11:56
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Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Now I would like to present the second quarterly report for the 2020-2021 year. I just discussed next year, but now come back to the current year. Since it's very difficult to explain this year's financial trends without considering the actual impact of the pandemic, I'm going to present the second quarterly report at the same time as the report we prepared for the update on pandemic-related expenditures. Items five and six will thus be presented together.
I'll begin with the quarterly financial report, which compares cumulative financial information from the current year with that from the same quarter of the previous year. I would emphasize that it's somewhat unusual to compare the two years as they are two atypical years. The factor we've cited this year is the pandemic, which has substantially affected our expenditures. Last year, it was the general election, which also had its own trends. The comparison between the two years is influenced by atypical spending habits, as we will see in the results I'm about to explain to you.
In the September 30 report, approved authorizations for 2020-2021 amounted to $539 million, an $18 million, or 3.5%, increase over authorizations for 2019-2020.
The most significant changes were a $5.9 million rise in economic increases for certain House administration employees, $4.4 million for significant investments and an amount of $3.1 million due to cost-of-living increases for members and senior officers. In addition, a $1.7 million increase in authorizations is attributable to budget adjustments following the general election.
As of September 30, expenditures totalled $230.8 million, compared to spending of $240.1 million for 2019-2020, a decrease of $9.3 million, or 3.9%.
The expenditures are also presented by type of cost. The most significant decrease in expenditures relates to the reduction of $8.1 million in transportation and telecommunications, which is due to the significant decrease in travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The expenditures for professional and special services have decreased by $4.8 million, mostly due to the reduction in temporary help for members and House officers, and training and hospitality across the whole organization as a result of COVID-19, as well as the difference in some of the timing of certain payments to external partners from one year over the next. The decreases were also partially offset by the cost of accommodating the virtual House proceedings and committees.
In addition, the expenditures for material and supplies decreased by $2.7 million due to the temporary closure of the food services and the printing facilities as a result of the pandemic. The decrease was partially offset by the purchase of consumable items such as the face masks and hand sanitizer used across the House of Commons.
The expenditures for computer, office equipment, furniture and fixtures has decreased by $1.1 million, primarily due to the differences in timing of certain payments from one year to another as well as a decrease in equipment purchased relating to the managed computing for constituencies initiative. The decrease was partially offset by the cost incurred for virtual House proceedings and committees and by the costs incurred for the equipment that was used to enable the House administration employees to work remotely during this pandemic.
I will also elaborate a bit more at the end of this presentation on some of the COVID implications of our various other costs.
I also note that salaries and benefits increased by $4.3 million, mainly due to the cost of living for members and their employees, as well as House administration. This increase was partially offset by the fact that we had a reduction in part-time staff and overtime as a result of the pandemic.
Finally, the report provides a comparison of the utilization of our authorities between the two years that shows a decrease of 3.3%, which was not unexpected given the current situation.
It's important to mention that the House promotes an efficient use of our resources, and we continuously strive to minimize the requests for incremental funding whenever possible. Given the current situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and considering potential savings as well as any financial impact when making funding decisions in this truly exceptional year.
Given this, I'll take a couple of minutes to highlight the financial impacts the pandemic has had on the House spending. This is looking at the analysis that was provided in your tab 6 for background. You'll see that in addition to the reassignment of resources and the cancellation or slowing down of certain initiatives, we have had significant expenditures relating to specific measures taken for a total of approximately $4 million.
Those include about $1.5 million invested to accommodate the virtual House proceedings and committees; $1.2 million for external printing services; $340,000 spent for constituency office reconfiguration and COVID-19-related supplies; and $380,000 for the House administration for computer equipment and personal protective equipment such as non-medical masks and sanitizing products. We have also noted that we've had approximately $500,000 of administrative salaries and overtime specifically related to the activities for the current situation.
Overall, though, when looking at the various patterns that I mentioned previously, the reduction in certain costs like travel and material and supplies more than compensate for these increased costs related to the pandemic.
Mr. Speaker, this concludes my presentation. I can answer any questions members of the board may have.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:03
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Yes. Some decided not to open their offices. In some cases, as a result of the existing office configuration, there was no need to erect a physical barrier or install transparent plastic panels. Quite a large number of members have not yet had to incur those expenses.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:04
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I believe the economic gains are slightly less than the amount of that expenditure because we continued paying the salaries of employees at our printing centres. We saved money on equipment and supplies, but the figure I have combines all the services that were interrupted, including food services. So I don't have the exact amount for printing services.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:05
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We were in isolation, and employees were using the “other paid leave” code. The offices hadn't yet been configured, and the necessary adjustments had been made so employees could work safely in the printing centres.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
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Item seven will be presented separately.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
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Yes, since one is a variant of the other. It's just a little more elaborate. It will be easier to talk to them together.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
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Yes.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:06
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Yes.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:07
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Given that most of the reassignments that have been taking place relate to our DSRP team, I'll ask Mr. Stéphan Aubé if he wants to elaborate a bit more on what they basically are not doing or doing less of and doing now.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:17
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'll let José Fernandez present this topic for me. He's my deputy CFO. He manages the team that reviews all these policies and has worked on it.
At this point here, since we're working remotely, I'll mention to him quickly that there's a lot of material in this next section. We'll abbreviate the presentation so that we can get to your questions as quickly as possible, given the time that we have going forward.
You have the floor, Mr. Fernandez.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:26
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We've seen an increase in overall office equipment expenditures. Computer equipment purchases are governed by a very restrictive policy, and those expenditures are closely monitored.
The upward trend isn't necessarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We often see this trend in office equipment and furniture purchases in the year following an election, as new members need to adapt their offices or change equipment to suit their new duties. We've noticed an upward trend, but there's nothing alarming about it.
We don't have the inventory figures. In any case, when expenses are allocated, we don't always track the number of units purchased, such as the number of chairs. For computer purchases, we're still within the limits prescribed by the Board of Internal Economy's policy.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-12-03 12:27
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An analysis is under way. I'll let Ms. Kletke tell you about that. I know that the evaluation should be forwarded to the members of the Board of Internal Economy in the coming weeks.
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Daniel Paquette
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Daniel Paquette
2020-11-19 11:15
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I want to comment on that also.
We've done our homework. We've done due diligence on best practice for this kind of technology and the pieces here. That's why we were coming back every three years. We wanted things to be stabilized. As Stéphan outlined in his presentation, we have had oversight and control of some of these buildings in their renovated state for a couple of years or more. We're able now to actually sit down and do those estimates with some level of assurance.
Obviously, none of us have a crystal ball. Unless some really unusual event occurs or changes occur in how Parliament wants to do business, for these buildings and these assets, this is our best estimate of what we feel is needed long term.
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