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Results: 1 - 15 of 138
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'd like to build on the comments that you're making about analyst to analyst and an earlier comment, Mr. Coulter, about the level and the quality of personnel who work for CSE, PhDs. With regard to the long-term human resources planning strategies for your organization, what do you see as being the greatest challenges?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you.
It's interesting today, some have made reference, perhaps--I apologize for being late--to the Auditor General's comments about investment in our security strategy and planning. You've made a number of references to your integrated approach with other departments, the new money you received, and how you have utilized it within the agency. Is it your sense that the integration required for a comprehensive public security structure and system in Canada has been lacking? Is it your sense that there is a growing period or an experiential period that is going to strengthen the effective linkages and liaisons? Or is it your sense that we have been in pretty decent shape and that when new moneys are allocated to this very important priority, it could be overlaid quickly into an organization and infrastructure that is capable of utilizing it effectively and not duplicating or creating other openings in what obviously needs to be a closed and coordinated system?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
I have just one more, somewhat unrelated but of interest.
Is there much call on your services from the point of view of economic espionage? Are your links with the government and within your mandate very focused on that?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Who pays for this?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
They do or you do?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, gentlemen.
General...[Technical difficulty--Editor]...that we anticipate and want to see as potential for us in a combined bilateral or even multilateral agreement in this area?
With regard to your comment about a focus on being able to deal with a “full range”, to quote you, of ballistic missiles, will kinetic-only responses deal with it? Will land-based and sea-based-only responses be able to deal with that full range?
What, if they can be quantified, are the additions to this comprehensive approach of diplomacy, export control, technological understanding and control, and our support at The Hague...? What additional measurable impact do you think we can expect from this BMD logical extension of our comprehensive strategy?
Finally, bringing the discussion on Haiti and this and the expected foreign affairs and defence policy review together—you used at the outset, in your introduction, the words “new thinking”—what is the old thinking we're going to leave behind? What is the new thinking we can expect to see in the green paper? Will we actually get models that suggest, or at least encourage us to contemplate, the value of investments in defence versus the value of investments in international development?
There was a fascinating piece in The Atlantic Monthly last month by Robert Kaplan talking about the stresses in the American military. They're identical to the ones we talk about here. Do we really think we're going to be able to deal with that with old, status quo thinking? What is the new thinking we need to force ourselves to contemplate, to challenge ourselves with, if we are really going to do what I think we want; that is, increase our levels of peace and civilization—humanity—around the world?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
You were here in 1988 and 1989?
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
To oppose.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman and colleagues.
Let me introduce my deputy, Mr. Wayne Wouters, and Janet Milne, my assistant deputy minister responsible for finance and administrative services. She's the woman who keeps track of our money. She's here because we're talking about the estimates.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Chair, thank you for inviting me once again to appear before your committee. It is always a pleasure to come and give you an update on the activities of our department which, as you know, affects the lives of almost all Canadians.
Given that HRDC serves Canadians across their whole lives and accounts for roughly half of the program spending of the Government of Canada, I would monopolize your committee's time if I tried to capture all of the files we've been advancing since I last spoke with you. I promise I won't do that, but I will take a different approach than I have in the past.
As some of you will know, in my previous appearances before this committee I've tended to focus on a particular issue, such as skills and learning, and to outline our policy and program approach in addressing this priority area. Today, however, I'd like to provide the context for our policy and program decisions within HRDC. I want to talk about the values and principles that drive our departmental agenda, and share my views about why a continued investment in social policy is so essential for Canada as we enter this new millennium. In this context it's particularly important when considering our main estimates.
We start from the position that our programs and services promote the social cohesion and full inclusion of all Canadians. Social programs are the glue that bridges the differences between the haves and the have-nots. Canadians want a Canada where everyone, regardless of race, gender, age, ability, or wealth, is able to contribute to the economic and social lives of our country, and share in its prosperity.
It is through social policies and programs that we reflect our shared values of compassion, generosity, fearness and commitment to equality. And that we exercise our belief in humanity and in democracy. Canadians believe that a strong, sustainable and vibrant system of social programs that advances these values is a key factor in the continual improvement of our quality of life.
Social policy not only touches on our traditional values, but is equally important to the values of competition, innovation, and economic prosperity. We're now living in a knowledge-based economy. It is our people and our ability to create and innovate that will drive our economy in the decades ahead.
Social investments are, in fact, also economic investments. In the past, some people considered these expenditures to be nothing but a drain. Not any more. Of course, they never were. But today more than ever they are all about a gain.
Investing in the early years ensures children get off to a good start so they are ready to learn when they get to school, so they will be ready, when the time comes, to work. Continuing to investing youth, in skills development and in life long learning helps Canadians keep pace with constant changes in the information age. It is these investments that will build the economy of the future.
Social spending also supports the economy by reducing long-term costs to the public purse and society at large. If we get it right in the early years, we reduce spending on health care, education, and the justice and welfare systems later on. Far more important, we build stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger country.
Social policy is indeed driven by Canadians' values, but it's also shaped by principles. After almost four years in this portfolio, there are several principles that I believe must guide our policy development at HRDC.
The first principle is that our social programs must be sustainable. We want to avoid going ahead too fast, at the risk of having to pull back because we later find we can't financially afford the programs we've implemented or they aren't doing the job we expect. There's no point in presenting citizens with a plan or a program they cannot count on.
Second, our programs and services must be inclusive. In the past we built social programs and services with the majority in mind, but we always have to ask if all citizens are benefiting to the degree we expect. Canadians with disabilities, aboriginal people, and new immigrants all need to participate as much as other Canadians, and Canada needs the contributions of everyone. So we need to continually question whether everyone will ultimately have the same positive outcome we're looking for.
Third, good decisions depend on good information. Research that identifies the distinct needs of diverse groups is the foundation for the development, implementation, and testing of sound social policies and programs. At HRDC, we understand that research is essential to assure we are working toward a legitimate need and a public good. It has the added advantage that as we implement programs we can test them and make sure they're giving us the outcomes we expected to receive.
Another of the principles at the heart of our social policy approach is our belief that there is a role for both active and passive measures.
Our reforms to the employment insurance program reflects this balance approach. Individuals, through no fault of their own, can find themselves out of work and, through the government, can find temporary incomes support that enables them to continue to provide for their families while they look for a new job. But there is another peace of that puzzle. And that is providing those individuals the opportunity to learn and retrain to find a new job. Active measures to employment, from my point of the view, are critically important in the development of good social policy.
A focus on active measures is equally important to cost-conscious Canadians who want to shift social programs away from entitlement to empowerment. There's a growing consensus on the need for policies that are based on social investments that promote opportunities rather than provide stop-gap measures.
We need to be not only more responsive but also more flexible, to adjust quickly as circumstances change. We have to build programs that are as flexible as the Canadian public is dynamic and different. Our decision to double parental leave benefits demonstrates this principle, in practice. On average, 70% of Canadian families are dual-income families today. Parents have 40% less time with their children than our parents did just a generation ago.
Something else has changed: both parents want to be actively involved in raising their young children. This extension of parental benefits allows Canadian moms and dads to choose which parent stays home with their newborn or newly adopted child. You may already know, or at least be interested to know, that after one full year of implementation we have three times the number of dads staying home with their newborns--an exceptional change in our society.
When I talk about flexibility I'm also talking about service delivery options. In today's world people want fast, efficient, and convenient access to information and services, whether in person, on the phone, through paperwork, or via the Internet. That's precisely what we're working to provide through a major modernization process that is currently underway with our department. We're moving on multiple fronts to deliver this kind of citizen-first service.
I will talk more about that in a moment, but allow me to address two important principles around the delivery of flexible social programs: partnership and accountability. Without a doubt, good social policy depends on partnerships, whether this is done between government departments or among governments; with the business community or organized labour; with the voluntary sector, educational institutions, or individual Canadians. It's just not acceptable nor is it practical for the ideas to be developed, created, and then implemented solely by the Government of Canada, or any other government for that matter.
I am talking about a willingness to work cooperatively. There is no place for turf wars when people need social supports. What matters is that those programs and services get delivered in the most effective way possible. More often than not, this means involving those who are closest to the challenges and solutions—be it at the provincial/territorial, regional or community level.
While recognizing that flexibility is essential to ensuring that federally funded initiatives are responsive to the specific needs of Canadians, which can vary from province to province or territory, ensuring an appropriate level of accountability for those funds is equally important.
More and more, in areas of shared jurisdiction or in areas where we have identified joint priorities, we establish a common policy framework consistent with the social union framework agreement, but give the provinces and territories the flexibility to make investments against the backdrop of their own reality.
The September 2000 early childhood development agreement is an example that eventually set the stage for the recent child care announcement. On March 13, the federal, provincial, and territorial ministers responsible for social services reached an agreement on a framework for improving access to affordable, quality, and provincially and territorially regulated early learning and child care programs and services.
We agreed that to address local priorities the agreement needs to be flexible, but we also recognized that the importance of being accountable to Canadians and have committed to transparent public reporting.
In Manitoba we've taken the partnership on early childhood development even further. Through the Manitoba children's agenda, the federal departments of HRDC, Health, and Indian and Northern Affairs are working closely with the Government of Manitoba and with private and public organizations to support the healthy development of children.
New partnerships are being formed, such as a leadership council that brings together community members, representatives from aboriginal communities, local foundations and other funders, and business leaders, to focus on early childhood and development issues.
Sector councils are another area of cooperation where industry stakeholders work together to solve human resource challenges, but often collaborate with their provincial counterparts on different projects.
The Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en tourisme,
for example, sits on the board of directors of the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council. As well, provincial-territorial tourism education associations have been established across Canada as part of the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council network.
I have been talking about these principles for sometime before different audiences across Canada. I take a great comfort from knowing that, as our approach to policy and program development has evolved over the past decade, we have both reflected and responded to Canadians expectations.
Recent research has found that Canadians are right there with us endorsing our approach. You may be aware that in mid-April the Canadian Policy Research Networks released a report entitled “The Kind of Canada We Want”. The report is based on a series of dialogues with Canadians in ten centres across the country. HRDC was one of six federal departments that provided funding for this comprehensive and unique study.
This report is very different from standard polling or other public consultations, in that it involves interactive dialogues that provide a bottom-up view of what Canadians believe the social contract should be and how government is performing. We've heard from Canadians that they see a strong role for government in meeting social needs, but that their expectations are shifting. They still demand universally accessible health care and public education, strong income security programs, and targeted programs for the most vulnerable. However, they want better value for money, and think that program redesign must include input from those directly affected.
Your committee's work in studying literacy is a perfect example of the kind of public involvement I'm talking about. I was delighted to learn that you have heard from some 57 witnesses, whose input I'm sure you value as much as I do. I want you to know, Madam Chair, how much I appreciate your interest in this issue, and your committee members' demonstrated desire to address Canada's literacy challenges.
The CPRN study reported that people want governments to treat the citizen as a whole person and to meet their needs in as simple and streamlined a manner as possible. Researchers found there has been a substantial move from deference toward government to greater accountability. There was little evidence of a desire for less government, but rather for more accountable, smarter, and more strategic government policies and programs that engage Canadians and respond to their needs and concerns.
Researchers also noted a trend from a focus on rights to increased responsibility, with citizens stating that social programs should provide a “hand up”, not a “handout”. Even though citizens are more willing to do their part, they understand that all sectors in society are connected, and that progress can only be achieved if we work together. For example, they see a role for the private sector but would like it to be an even greater social partner. Of course, they expect the same of us, and that's exactly what we do in almost every aspect of our work at HRDC, notably when developing and delivering responsive social programs for Canadians.
On the question of service delivery, HRDC is now in the process of consulting with its partners and stakeholders. We know it's not enough to simply change our service delivery mechanisms, or to think that new technologies are all that's required to reach out to Canadians. Increasingly, it means developing citizen-centred policies and programs that are flexible and responsive to changing demographics, changing times, needs, and expectations.
The CPRN research findings reinforce the research our department has done in determining how we should be developing policy and delivering services to Canadians in the 21st century. Good policy, linked to good programs, linked to good service delivery is what HRDC's future agenda is all about. It has us looking at everything we do from the outside in. We're developing policies and programs from the vantage point of our clients and our stakeholders.
This reflects a fundamental change in our work philosophy and work style that is revitalizing the way the department operates. You'll be hearing more about this in future appearances before this committee, I'm sure.
Because it is probably one of the most ambitious and essential exercises we have ever embarked upon. We will be calling on you for guidance and advice as we work our way through this process.
Before wrapping up my formal presentation I want to make a final observation about being responsive to citizens. If there was one finding that the CPRN report brought to our attention it was that as Canadians become more demanding of and more engaged with governments, the legitimacy and sustainability of policy decisions will depend on how well they reflect the underlying values of citizens.
I think that is one area where HRDC has proven its leadership. Indeed, all of us in public life should be inspired by this reminder. Everything we do in government should be driven by Canadians' values because values lie at the heart of our democracy.
Creating an inclusive society and a competitivity economy depends on the contribution of all Canadians.
I'm very proud of HRDC's contribution to this process, and I look forward to working closely with Canadians to continue building the Canada we all want.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
It's inappropriate for me to speak directly about individual cases that are before the courts, so I will contain my comments to the guaranteed income supplement itself.
There's no doubt from our point of view, and probably from the point of view of this whole table, that the guaranteed income supplement has become a very important part of sustaining Canadian seniors. It's a program of supplementary benefit that provides low-income Canadian seniors with additional income to help them through what can be difficult and costly expenses.
In the context of the guaranteed income supplement, I'm very happy to say that our focus has really been on ensuring that those who are eligible for this supplement receive it. You'll know that as a result of a new relationship with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency we are exchanging information on the annual tax rules of Canadian seniors, and then providing those who may be eligible for the GIS with a simplified form that has been completed, asking them to sign and return it to us to ensure that if they're eligible they'll receive the benefit.
Our focus in these recent times has been on building a series of significant information interventions to assure Canadians who are eligible that they will get the program. From my point of view, that is where we should put our interests.
On the period of retroactivity, I would indicate to the honourable member that in this program it's annually determined. It's based on income over the course of the year, and is therefore not an entitlement but simply there to be responsive to the needs of a particular individual--a senior--on a year-by-year basis. The 11-month retroactivity period is consistent with other social income support benefits that are provided by the provinces. We continue to believe it's an appropriate measure.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
First I'd like to say that because this is being televised, it gives us the chance to make sure that seniors who are watching get information about the program. So I think that's appropriate.
Secondly, if there are cases--and the deputy may know the number of them--there would be very few. They would only be allowed in the context of an administrative error that was made by the department in providing incorrect information to an individual. In the act the minister has the responsibility, certainly the authority, to provide more than an 11-month retroactive period if the department has made an error in providing essential information to an individual.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
Legal costs incurred in recovering debt...? There's an ongoing--
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
For ongoing administrative responsibilities, those sorts of aspects are included.
View Jane Stewart Profile
Lib. (ON)
They're part of our administrative budget.
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