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Results: 1 - 30 of 286
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2020-06-16 17:04
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We'll call the meeting back to order.
In the next hour we'll be meeting on the main estimates 2020-21, votes 1 and 5 under the Canada Revenue Agency, votes 1 and 5 under the Department of Finance, vote 1 under the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and vote 1 under the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
We have with us a number of representatives from the Department of Finance, from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
We'll let you folks make your presentation first, then we'll go to questions.
For the information of committee members, first questions will be by Mr. Cumming, Ms. Dzerowicz, Mr. Ste-Marie and Mr. Julian.
Ms. Bess, go ahead.
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Darlene Bess
View Darlene Bess Profile
Darlene Bess
2020-06-16 17:06
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Good evening, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to present the main estimates for the 2020-21 fiscal year on behalf of the Department of Finance. Joining me today are departmental officials to assist in providing you with a more in-depth perspective on the rationale and policies that support the numbers within our estimates.
As you know, the Department of Finance develops policies and provides advice to the government with the goal of creating a healthy economy for all Canadians. In 2020-21, the Department of Finance will continue to support the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance in delivering on a responsible fiscal plan that will continue to invest in people and in the things that give people a better quality of life while continuing to build confidence in Canada’s economy.
The 2020-21 main estimates reflect a departmental budgetary spending of $99.5 billion and non-budgetary spending of $50.2 million, which is composed of $105.5 million of voted budgetary expenditures, $99.4 billion in statutory budgetary expenditures and $50.2 million in statutory non-budgetary expenditures.
In comparison to the 2019-20 main estimates, these main estimates reflect a net increase of $4.7 million in voted budgetary expenditures, mainly due to increased activity for analytical capacity building within the department to manage government assets including the Trans Mountain Corporation as well as an increase in payments due to collective bargaining.
Statutory expenditures are not included in the appropriation bill, as they have already been approved by Parliament through enabling legislation; however, they are included for information in the estimates documents. The statutory budgetary expenditures in the main estimates reflect a net increase of $500 million in statutory budgetary expenditures, which is mainly due to increases in major transfers to other levels of government. This net increase is offset by decreases in interest on unmatured debt and other interest costs. The statutory non-budgetary expenditures included in these main estimates reflect Canada’s fourth of five equal installment payments to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my high-level overview of the main estimates for the Department of Finance. My colleagues and I would be pleased to answer any questions the committee members may have.
Thank you.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:09
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all the officials who are here today for the work you put in to create these estimates. In fact, I think I complimented all of you when the minister was here by saying that you're a very talented crew.
Given that we have this very talented crew, can you describe for me as a new parliamentarian how difficult it would be, given the work that's been put into these estimates, to produce either a budget or a budget update?
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Darlene Bess
View Darlene Bess Profile
Darlene Bess
2020-06-16 17:09
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I think I'll let my colleague Brad Recker comment on that. I think he'd be able to provide some more information on that front.
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:10
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I've been having some trouble with audio set-up.
I'm sorry, but I missed the question. Would you mind repeating it, sir?
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:10
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Sure. Given the work that's been put into these estimates, how difficult would it be for the department to produce either a budget or a financial update so that we have a better understanding of the bigger picture of what's going on?
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:10
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Producing a budget or an update is a pretty significant amount of effort for the department. It is something, however, that we are able to do and is core to our mandate in general.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:11
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In addition to these estimates, the main budget and the supplementary estimates, do you believe that you'd be in a position to create a budget and/or a financial update?
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:11
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The department can and does produce both budget and fiscal updates annually.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:11
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For the last hundred years of Parliament, we've always had one each fiscal year. Is it something that you're currently working on?
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:11
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The department continually monitors the fiscal situation as it evolves. We're in constant contact with private sector forecasters, think tanks, etc. We are always working to monitor the situation.
In the current environment, there's a very high degree of uncertainty. This is evident in any of the outlooks that have been put out by international agencies and others. To that extent, putting out any sort of detailed fiscal outlook over a longer horizon would be a significantly difficult endeavour at this point.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:12
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We have seen other governments do it and have seen provinces do it, so it strikes me as something that could be done.
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:12
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Several provinces have gone ahead and produced budgets or near-term outlooks, but we do not have a date for an outlook for ourselves at this time.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:13
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Within the main estimates—and this is probably still for Finance—I tried to find a breakdown for the infrastructure programs, and it's spread out through a variety of departments.
Is it not possible, when an infrastructure budget is set, to have clarity within the budget as to where those expenditures went so we are able to find the projects they were allocated to?
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Bradley Recker
View Bradley Recker Profile
Bradley Recker
2020-06-16 17:13
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I'm not the expert on the infrastructure profiles. I'll turn that over to my colleague in EDCF.
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Evelyn Dancey
View Evelyn Dancey Profile
Evelyn Dancey
2020-06-16 17:13
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I can offer a bit of background on this.
As the member would know, there are now a large number of federal infrastructure programs, both legacy, from the first mandate of this government, and more recent announcements by the government. Overall, the responsibility for integrated reporting on the infrastructure plan is with the infrastructure and communities minister, Minister McKenna, and my colleagues at INFC. They are the ones wrestling and integrating the data—
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Evelyn Dancey
View Evelyn Dancey Profile
Evelyn Dancey
2020-06-16 17:15
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I'm sorry. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll just give it in short form.
What I was saying is that Infrastructure Canada is the best place to bring together and integrate the data on the federal infrastructure programs. It does release reports on its website, but this is continually an area of improvement that we are working on across the relevant departments involved in infrastructure spending. While it is not part of the Department of Finance's main estimates, we are collaborating with our INFC colleagues to improve disclosure around the infrastructure plan.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:15
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It certainly needs some improvement because we can't seem to find out which projects the money was allocated to.
I want to move to FINTRAC.
The main estimates state that Canada will be paying over $20 million for compliance with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislation and regulations. Can you give us an update on that money? What are the KPIs around that money, and what's the expected return or the expected results of that level of funding?
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Bruce Wallace
View Bruce Wallace Profile
Bruce Wallace
2020-06-16 17:16
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In terms of our compliance efforts most recently we have received funding to ensure compliance, particularly with regard to the casino sector and the real estate sector, particularly in British Columbia. I don't think I need to remind people here of the Cullen commission. There's been a lot of attention paid to real estate and casinos in B.C., and we've been doubling down our efforts to ensure compliance in those sectors. At the same time, we are continuing to ensure compliance in the money services businesses, banks and other reporting entities.
In terms of performance, I'll say that it's an uneven playing field for compliance. Large financial institutions generally are quite compliant. As for real estate agents and money services businesses, we invest a fair bit in terms of outreach, guidance and training to ensure that they're aware of their obligations, and to conduct examinations to ensure that they are abiding by their obligations.
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View James Cumming Profile
CPC (AB)
View James Cumming Profile
2020-06-16 17:17
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How do we determine whether we're getting value for the money? I didn't hear anything in your answer that would indicate how you will measure whether you've been successful or not. Can you give us some indication of how that would be determined?
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Bruce Wallace
View Bruce Wallace Profile
Bruce Wallace
2020-06-16 17:17
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Absolutely.
When we go and conduct an examination in the sector, for example, we maintain statistics as to how the specific reporting entity is complying but also as to how the sector generally complies. Our expectation is that, over time, compliance would increase and non-compliance would decrease, and that has a direct effect on the quality of the information that we receive. It's generally tracked through the level of compliance in the reporting sectors that have obligations.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-06-16 17:18
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Well then, I will not be directing any questions to them right now. I will be directing my questions to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for correcting me.
In the 2020-21 main estimates, OSFI has requested funding of $1.2 million for program expenditures under vote 1, a net increase of $35.6 million or 12.8% from the funding requested in the 2019-20 main estimates. What are the major factors that are contributing to the increase in the amount requested under vote 1?
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Marc Desautels
View Marc Desautels Profile
Marc Desautels
2020-06-16 17:19
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That amount pertains mainly to actuarial advisory services provided by the office of the chief actuary, which is an independent section within the broader group. There's been an increase in staffing there, so it's mainly related to salaries. There was a bit of a catch-up in regard to staffing vacant positions. There was also an in increase in salaries as a result of the most recent collective agreement.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-06-16 17:20
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There's also been a request for $199.8 million in statutory expenditures, which is a 21.6% increase from the funding requested in 2019-20. What were the major factors contributing to that increase?
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Marc Desautels
View Marc Desautels Profile
Marc Desautels
2020-06-16 17:20
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That's a good question. What happened in 2019-20 is that you would have seen the main estimates at a lower level than what you're seeing for the upcoming fiscal year. Post-submission of the main estimates last year, we put forward a new strategic plan to ensure that we built the OSFI of tomorrow so it would remain at the forefront of an increasingly complex financial sector.
Therefore, we put forward a strategic plan after the submission of the main estimates. It included a large set of initiatives that supported that strategic plan, whether on the non-financial risk side of things or building our technology infrastructure to better support front-line supervisors.
As I said, post-submission of the main estimates last year, we did revise our strategic plan, revised our financial envelope, which has led to the increase you see there. If you look at our spending for the past fiscal year, 2019-20, it would have been reasonably in line with the revised budget that we prepared post the main estimates.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-06-16 17:21
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Thank you.
Maybe I could shift my questions to the Department of Finance.
With respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, to what extent have any additional costs borne by the Department of Finance been accounted for in the 2020-21 estimates, and does the department anticipate significantly greater operational costs as a result of the pandemic?
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Darlene Bess
View Darlene Bess Profile
Darlene Bess
2020-06-16 17:22
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I'll start. I'm the CFO at the Department of Finance.
I'll say that the main estimates right now don't really incorporate the COVID-19 response. Our supplementary estimates incorporate some of those costs right now. We're still looking, as a department, to understand what the implications will be from a staffing point of view to deal with some of the pressures on the department in responding to COVID-19.
In short, the main estimates really don't incorporate much of the COVID-19 costs, but more so the supplementary estimates, and we're still assessing things as we go.
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View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dzerowicz Profile
2020-06-16 17:23
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Actually, I'll ask a question quickly of FINTRAC then. It's similar to the one I just asked with respect to COVID-19.
To what extent have there been any additional costs borne by FINTRAC, as accounted for in the 2020-21 estimates?
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Christopher Veilleux
View Christopher Veilleux Profile
Christopher Veilleux
2020-06-16 17:23
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I'll take this one.
Actually, it's very similar to the response that Ms. Bess provided. You won't see any expenditures related to COVID-19 for FINTRAC represented in the main estimates for 2020-21. Rather, similar to what was articulated, you may be seeing some of that coming through supplementary estimates (A) further on in the supply cycle.
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View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
BQ (QC)
View Gabriel Ste-Marie Profile
2020-06-16 17:24
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Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to begin by greeting all government officials and agency representatives. I thank them for being here to answer our questions, and we are grateful to them.
My questions are for Department of Finance officials and relate to high-speed Internet access expenditures.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are confined to their homes. Access to a quality high-speed Internet connection must be considered an essential service today. It is unacceptable that rural areas, remote municipalities and indigenous communities do not have that access today, in 2020.
The document presented mentions contributions. I will start with a technical question. According to the department's report, the investments planned for 2018-19 under the connect to innovate program appear to have been postponed. Can you tell us why?
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