Thank you very much, Madam Chair and members of the committee. It's my pleasure to be here today on behalf of Speaker Rota.
I did speak to Anthony yesterday, and he is doing well. He thanks everyone, of course, for your kind wishes. I know that lots of people gave him a call, and he really appreciates that. He remains very involved in the office as he rebuilds his stamina.
These are very much his opening remarks that I will deliver today, but I'm going to give you a wink and hope that on Monday he will be in the office and maybe will start some work in the House of Commons on Tuesday, fingers crossed.
The past two years have been challenging in ways we could never have imagined. Nevertheless, the members of Parliament, their staff, and the employees of the House Administration have adapted to the current reality. Despite the pandemic—or maybe because of it—the House of Commons has been particularly creative in leveraging technology to support the work of Parliament.
Over the past several years, the administration has been investing in technology infrastructure. These investments enabled parliamentarians and staff to connect securely to the House of Commons network and to one another. In this way, they were able to keep in touch.
Today, I'll be presenting the main estimates for the 2022-23 fiscal year for the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Protective Service.
I know they've already been introduced, but quickly, with me here today are Charles Robert, Clerk of the House of Commons; Michel Patrice, deputy clerk, administration; and Paul St George, chief financial officer.
On my left are Superintendent Larry Brookson, interim director of the Parliamentary Protective Service; Éric Savard, chief financial officer; and Sonia Vani, chief of staff.
I will begin by outlining key elements of the 2022-23 main estimates for the House of Commons, tabled on March 1, 2022.
The main estimates total $563 million, which represents a net increase of $19.3 million compared to the 2021-22 main estimates.
The 2022-23 main estimates were reviewed and approved by the Board of Internal Economy at its meeting on December 16, 2021.
I will present the main estimates for the House of Commons according to five major themes corresponding to the handout that you have received. The financial impact associated with each theme represents the year-over-year changes from the 2021-22 main estimates.
To start, funding in the amount of $13.8 million for cost-of-living increases covers requirements for members' and House officers' budgets and the House administration, as well as the statutory increase to the members' sessional allowances and additional salaries.
The annual budget adjustments for members and House officers related to cost-of-living increases are based on the consumer price index and are essential to the exercise of their parliamentary functions.
Turning to major investments, we see a net decrease of $1 million.
The sunsetting of the funds included in the 2021-22 main estimates to account for one-time costs related to security enhancements for members resulted in a decrease of $4.2 million in the 2022-23 main estimates.
Another area of focus for major investments that this committee has seen in the past is support for information technology systems and assets transferred to the House of Commons within the context of the long-term vision and plan. The additional funding provided for this support in the 2022-23 main estimates is $2.3 million.
Other major investments include support for increased committee activities—$489,000—and committee operations—$322,000.
Moving now to the $3.6-million increase for other adjustments for members and House officers, this includes the funding required for the House of Commons' contributions to members' pension plans, up $3.6 million, as determined by the Treasury Board, and an increase of $38,000 for House officers' office budgets due to the new party representation in the House following the 2021 general election.
Let us now turn to parliamentary diplomacy.
The funds earmarked for conferences, associations and assemblies in the 2022-23 main estimates total $768,000.
The 2022–23 main estimates had identified funding for the 47th Annual Session of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, scheduled to be held in Quebec in July 2022, but the assembly has been cancelled due to the pandemic. It is anticipated that the sum originally intended for this event will serve to reduce the funding requested in the main estimates.
The 65th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which has been postponed for another year, from August 2021 to August 2022, remains in these main estimates.
Looking ahead to 2023–24, Canada is set to host the 31st Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2023.
Finally, the main estimates provide for a total of $2.2 million for adjustments to the contributions for the House of Commons' employee benefit plans.
I will now present the 2022-23 main estimates for the Parliamentary Protective Service. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, the service requests a main estimate budget of $100.7 million. This represents an increase of $9.8 million, or 10.9% over the 2021-22 main estimates budget.
Before outlining the justification for this increase, it is worth noting the period of financial stability that the service achieved for the past three fiscal years, as the budget was maintained at approximately $91 million, with the budgetary variance averaging -0.4%. The service's ongoing commitments to financial stewardship is further illustrated by the voluntary budget reduction of 2% applied to the previous main estimates.
Currently, the service is in its seventh year of protecting the Parliament of Canada, its parliamentarians, employees and visitors.
While the focus was almost exclusively on tactical priorities in the early years of the service's existence, it now operates as a strategic, intelligence-led agency. As it grows, it is increasingly focused on the welfare of its employees.
In fact, the 2021‑24 strategic plan highlights two organizational priorities that underscore this maturity: delivering operational excellence and high performance to the parliamentary community and ensuring the overall health and well-being of its employees.
This approach recognizes the interdependence of the following two priorities: a workplace where all employees are physically and psychologically safe, coupled with a sense of belonging, which is essential to effectively deliver on the protection mandate.
The requested $9.8 million increase will be used to mature the organization, meet financial obligations and address the ever-evolving threat environment. These are two main categories associated with the request.
In the first category are expenses linked to inflationary costs, legislative requirements and economic increases, which together account for roughly 70% of the ask as follows. Approximately 50% is associated with ongoing economic increases resulting from cost-of-living adjustments through collective bargaining mandates. An additional 8% provides the service with the necessary capacity to meet legislative requirements in areas such as occupational health and safety, diversity and belonging, and hazard identification and risk assessment. A further 12% is required to cover inflationary increases associated with various goods and services. The remaining 30% of this increase includes 20% to be allocated to threat mitigation and protective mandate initiatives to ensure that the service continues to meet its current and future threats effectively, and 10% to be invested in resources required to adequately support the service's operational sector.
As some of you may recall, 2018 marked an important milestone in the service's history. An initiative was then launched to transition RCMP resources off the Hill. This transition was completed in October 2020, as RCMP frontline resources were completely demobilized. Today, the Parliamentary Protective Service assumes full responsibility of precinct security. As the service matures, it continues to establish, integrate and optimize systems to ensure increased operational readiness and effective response. It is making progress on important multi-year projects, such as the implementation of an enterprise resource planning system and a computer-automated dispatch system.
Having assumed full control of the precinct's security, with major systems coming online, and with its commitment to people-driven excellence, the Parliamentary Protective Service is better positioned than ever before to deliver on its protective mandate in an ever-evolving threat environment.
Madam Chair, this concludes our overview of the 2022‑23 main estimates for the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Protective Service.
We will be happy to answer any questions the committee may have.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Was that eight minutes?