Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As the acting chief executive officer of the translation bureau, I am happy to be here along with Matthew Ball, vice-president of service to Parliament and interpretation.
Please note that the new CEO will be appointed in the coming weeks.
Honourable members of the board, I would like to begin by assuring you that we fully understand how important the availability of quality interpretation is for Parliament to run smoothly, and how the shortage of interpreters not only impedes your meetings but makes it difficult to respect language rights.
The bureau is proud to have been able to provide essential services since the beginning of the pandemic. Our on-site interpreters responded to a 20% increase in demand for interpretation services in the House of Commons despite a 25% reduction in capacity due to a decrease in the number of suppliers.
That said, we're making every effort to cover more events. We're looking at every possible option to address the labour shortage, and we're continuing to take decisive action to ensure that we will have more interpreters available by the beginning of the next parliamentary session.
Given the varying availability and the services they must also provide to the Senate, the Privy Council Office and other clients such as the Public Order Emergency Commission, our complement of approximately 70 staff and 60 freelance interpreters assigned to Parliament concurrently cover 57 House committee meetings per week.
We will know the results of our recent accreditation exam by the holidays and will offer a job or a contract to all successful candidates. We are currently in discussions with procurement and security screening authorities to expedite the onboarding process, so that these new interpreters can begin serving the House as soon as the new session begins on January 30.
In addition, we are working with the House administration to enable interpreters located outside parliamentary facilities to provide interpretation. As this is a new service, there are contractual and operational details to be ironed out, but by the next session, we expect that we'll be able to provide off-site interpretation for two events per day, as requested by the House administration.
While increasing our capacity, we continue to improve occupational health and safety for our interpreters, which remains our priority. Still, the best way to protect interpreters is to ensure that all meeting participants use proper microphones, a precaution that also reduces service interruptions. To this end, we request your co‑operation in making the use of proper microphones mandatory.
Working conditions for interpreters are difficult, as incident reports from the last two years show. The more we improve conditions together, the better interpreters will be able to meet the needs of Parliament by providing the quality interpretation services that you have come to expect, and that you and the Canadian public deserve.
Thank you again for your support, your understanding and your patience.
Thank you, as well, to the interpreters providing today's interpretation services, Claire, Sharon and Tara.
Mr. Ball and I are now available to answer your questions.