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Highlights from the Hill

The House Administration is constantly modernizing and adapting how it provides services and information to Members of Parliament, their employees, and House Administration employees; and 2021–2022 was no exception.

The pursuit of excellence

The House Administration proudly supports Members and the House of Commons by providing the services, infrastructure, and advice that Members need to do their work as legislators and representatives in the Chamber, in committees, in caucus, and at their offices on Parliament Hill and in their constituency.

Over the past year, Members carried out their parliamentary duties while continuing to adapt their practices to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the House Administration continued to look for ways to modernize and adjust how it assists Members, whether they are working remotely or on site. Following the general election, the support available to Members and their employees was offered both in person and virtually. Also, for the first time in the history of Parliament, all newly elected and re-elected Members were given the option of a virtual swearing-in ceremony.

Relying on the collective experience of its employees, the House Administration ensured that business would continue while also introducing new programs and enhancing services to Members. Building on work begun in the 2020–2021 fiscal year, the House modernized its security records management system and implemented new services to enhance Members’ safety both on and off the Hill. These include assessments, the provision of security equipment and advice, security awareness and training, as well as outreach with local police forces.

The opening of a new Parliament creates an opportunity to reflect on the way products and services can be delivered or enhanced. Throughout the past year, the House Administration challenged itself to become better at what it does. Continuous improvement remained a priority within the Administration’s ongoing efforts to deliver outstanding services to Members of Parliament. For example, Sourceplus (a multidisciplinary team providing on-site support to Members and their staff) played an integral role in onboarding new and re-elected Members after the last general election, while also helping those who were not re-elected ease out of parliamentary life.

A Sourceplus advisor provides onsite support to a Member

Building an anti-racist culture

The Anti-Racism Subcommittee—an employee-led task force created as part of the Workplace Inclusion Program—published its first report this year. Drawing inspiration from the recommendations, the Administration added the core value of “inclusion” to its Strategic Plan, in a commitment to emphasize anti-racist behaviour and ensure an inclusive and diverse workplace.

The importance of safe on-site operations

The House continued to follow protocols from public health authorities to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Some preventative measures previously approved by the Board of Internal Economy were extended, such as the closing of the precinct to the public; the suspension of public tours and committee travel; and the mandatory use of masks for Members, their staff, House Administration employees, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and parliamentary visitors.

Some of the services that were paused in the early days of the pandemic have resumed, with protective measures in place to ensure safety. Parliamentary activities in the Chamber and in committees continue to take place in a hybrid format.

On-site employees cleaned and disinfected key areas, and modified the Chamber and committee rooms to support hybrid sittings.
On-site employees cleaned and disinfected key areas, and modified the Chamber and committee rooms to support hybrid sittings.

A timeline of significant events

August 15, 2021
Dissolution of the 43rd Parliament

Did you know? Members’ offices—both in Ottawa and in their constituency—remain open during dissolution to allow Members and their staff to continue offering services to constituents.

September 20, 2021
44th general election

After a general election, new Members participate in an orientation program outlining the support and services available to them. The program’s delivery was adapted by the Administration in response to the pandemic. In keeping with public health directives, Members were able to participate in program activities either in person or virtually.

A sign indicates the location of the Members' Orientation Centre
October 13 to November 19, 2021
Swearing-in ceremonies for Members of Parliament

Before taking their seats and voting in the Chamber, Members take an oath or make a solemn affirmation of allegiance. In effect, Members are making a pledge to conduct themselves in the best interests of the country.

November 22, 2021
Opening of the 44th Parliament and election of the Speaker of the House of Commons

The election of a Speaker is the first item of business when Members assemble following a general election and, when the 44th Parliament opened, Members re-elected the Honourable Anthony Rota as Speaker.

Although Speakers may not participate in House debates, they still fulfill their role as Members by supporting their constituents.

Speaker Rota addresses the House
November 23, 2021
Speech from the Throne

Her Excellency the Governor General, the Right Hon. Mary Simon, opened the new session of Parliament by reading the Speech from the Throne. This was the third throne speech read in the Senate of Canada Building, the Senate’s temporary home during the rehabilitation of the Parliament Building.

Women in Parliament

Following the 2021 general election, more women are sitting in the House than at any other time in Canadian history.

The year 2021 marked 100 years since the historic election of Agnes Campbell Macphail, the first woman Member of Parliament. Her win came two years after women gained the right to run in a federal election. She would remain the sole female Member of Parliament for 14 years until Martha Louise Black was elected in the 1935 federal general election. Macphail kept her seat until the general election of 1940, and paved the way for many other women in politics.

The unveiling of the bust of Agnes Campbell Macphail on March 8, 1955. (left to right) Margaret Aitken, MP; Charlotte Whitton, Mayor of Ottawa; the Hon. Cairine Wilson, Senator; and the Hon. Ellen Fairclough, Secretary of State.

Significant progress for women in Canada's Parliament

Here are some of the pioneering women who have marked the evolution of our parliamentary institutions over the past hundred years:

  1. 1921

    Agnes Campbell Macphail

    First woman Member of the House of Commons

  2. 1930

    The Hon. Cairine Reay Wilson

    First woman Senator

  3. 1944

    Cora Taylor Casselman

    First woman to preside over sittings of the House

  4. 1957

    Margaret Aitken

    First woman appointed chair of a parliamentary committee

  5. 1972

    Muriel McQueen Ferguson

    First woman Speaker of the Senate

  6. 1980 and 1983

    The Right Hon. Jeanne Sauvé

    First woman Speaker of the House of Commons and first woman Governor General

  7. 1993

    Jean Augustine

    First visible minority woman elected to the House of Commons and first Black Canadian woman to serve as a federal minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament

  8. 1993

    The Right Hon. Kim Campbell

    First woman Prime Minister

  9. 2005

    Audrey O’Brien

    First woman Clerk of the House of Commons

  10. 2008

    Dr. Andrea McCrady

    First woman Dominion Carillonneur

  11. 2012

    Sonia L’Heureux

    First woman Parliamentary Librarian

  12. 2014

    Johanna Mizgala

    First woman Curator of the House of Commons

Honouring those who lost their lives to gender-based violence

Thirty years ago, legislation was passed to officially designate December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, when the National Day of Remembrance Act received all-party support. The Dominion Carillonneur performed a recital for White Ribbon Day, as it is informally known, honouring the victims of the École Polytechnique shooting in 1989.

A white rose, symbol of remembrance for Polytechnique