Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Dufresne, thank you for the presentation.
At the outset, it seems to me that these are perfectly appropriate recommendations. As you said, that will positively change the balance between MPs and employees in terms of the reimbursement of legal fees and protection. In the past, employees did not have access to this type of support. In my opinion, the step you are proposing today is extremely important and positive.
I just have three fairly specific questions, because it's important for everyone to understand a few distinctions.
You said, Philippe, that all of this of course has to be in the discharge of a member's parliamentary function. That's a phrase that we hear at the board often. I think it would be interesting for you to explain why that's the case, and why in the context of other expenditures that necessarily has to be part of the requirement.
The other thing that I think would be useful would be to clarify that when you talk about the $5,000 upfront support available to employees, which I think is a very positive suggestion, the reimbursement of legal fees that you referred to at the conclusion of a particular process has nothing to do with the payment of a settlement. There has been some confusion when people have asked me about whether the board is paying settlements—in order words, monetary awards—separate and apart from reimbursing legal fees that you and your office audit as being proper and being subject to that chart of hourly rates, which the Government of Canada maintains at lower than when our Speaker practised law. He wouldn't have charged such low rates, so congratulations, Philippe.
I think it's important to draw the distinction between the reimbursement of the fees, which are separate and apart from.... Obviously under no circumstances—I would suggest, and I think you can confirm—is the board paying settlement amounts, monetary awards. That clearly is a different discussion that is not part of reimbursing legal fees, but again I've seen people conflating the two in public comments. I thought that was interesting for you to clarify.
Finally, there is, again in the public discussion of this issue, some commentary around why there isn't, in the disclosure, greater transparency, which you're proposing, around these expenditures. Again that is something that I certainly think is positive. There is a concern or a question that's often raised about why we don't use the names of the person, for example, the member, who is being reimbursed. I think I understand, and perhaps you could refer to other similar workplaces—municipal councils or provincial legislatures—that have adopted similar policies to what we're discussing today with regard to why there is a valid reason around some of that disclosure. I suspect and believe it's around inadvertently identifying, for example, people who have been subjected to harassment. It could be used to discourage victims from coming forward. I wonder if you could enlighten us as to why, in your view, that transparency finds the right balance.