Evidence of meeting #33 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was million.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • François Guimont  Deputy Minister, Deputy Receiver General for Canada, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Liseanne Forand  President, Shared Services Canada
  • Alex Lakroni  Chief Financial Officer, Finance Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Renée Jolicoeur  Assistant Deputy Minister, Accounting, Banking and Compensation Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Pierre-Marc Mongeau  Assistant Deputy Minister, Parliamentary Precinct Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • Tom Ring  Assistant Deputy Minister, Acquisitions Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services

March 12th, 2012 / 3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Madam Minister, thank you for being here. We know always have a very busy schedule. I'd also like to thank the other witnesses for being here.

Madam Minister, could you please give us the details relating to the new funding requests, totaling $105.5 million, in the Supplementary Estimates (C) from PWGSC?

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

I would be happy to do that.

We have funding for increases, of course, in non-discretionary expenses which is fit up, maintenance, and temporary accommodation associated with crown-owned buildings and leased space. This is needed to address increases in non-discretionary expenses related to Public Works' accommodation programs for public servants.

Public Works has price protection for increases to utility costs and rental costs of crown-owned and leased office accommodation. Of course, price protection agreements have been in place now since 1991.

Funding is required for the estimated cost of additional office accommodation provided to government departments and agencies. This money is to provide office accommodation to other government departments and agencies. The funds are made available to Public Works once a new program is approved, or an existing program's funding is extended for other government departments. These funds are from departments and agencies that have received approval between July 2011 and November 2, 2011 to increase their staffing levels, or extend existing programs and the associated staff.

Funding for accommodation costs related to pension administration, in particular, will pay for the accommodation of employees who administer the pension funds. As you know, Public Works is the functional authority in terms of administration of the public service pension plan. Only those costs directly attributable to the provision of pension services may be charged to the pension funds. There are approximately 650 employees within Public Works and Government Services providing pension administration services. As of November 2011, all pension service delivery has been centralized in the Public Service Pension Centre in Shediac, thus ensuring that active plan members have access to consistent, knowledgeable pension information, and subject matter experts.

Finally, funding is also required to repair and rehabilitate major infrastructures such as dams and bridges, and this is referring to the $20 million for the engineering assets. These funds are to be used for a comprehensive program of repairs, rehabilitation, and replacement of components of the 20 major engineering assets, as well as 68 wharves and marine assets that we own across Canada.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pat Martin

Monsieur Gourde, go ahead.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Could you tell us a little more about the reduction in PWGSC's net budget?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Chair, I thank you for the question.

Public Works and Government Services’ net appropriation will decline by $218 million or approximately 8%. This decrease is primarily related to the following reductions. The first reduction is the $113.4 million transfer to Shared Services Canada. As you know on August 4, 2011, an order in council created the Shared Services Canada department and transferred the services from Public Works to Shared Services Canada. The creation of Shared Services Canada resulted in the transfer of full-time employees, the associated budgets, and the above services from Public Works to Shared Services Canada.

There's also a $75.2 million reduction from the long-term vision plan. More funds were not called in main estimates because project requirements were not fully known at that time, and thus the decision was made to defer the request for funds from main estimates to supplementary estimates. The deferral will allow us to better align the timing of new funding with the actual expenditures, and it supports sound cash management strategy.

I would also like to point out that all major capital projects, including the major rehabilitation of the West Block and 180 Wellington, are tracking on or ahead of schedule, and on or under budget. We also see a decrease of $41.9 million from Public Works' contribution towards the budget 2011 strategic review exercise announced by the President of the Treasury Board on May 3, 2010. Public Works' contribution to the strategic review also ensured alignment with federal responsibilities.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pat Martin

That's exactly five minutes, Jacques, so I'm afraid your time is concluded.

Denis Blanchette, if you would like to go as far as we can, I'm afraid you're probably going to get interrupted.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First, I would like to point out that, when my colleague was speaking about Royal LePage, he wasn't talking about 2004, but rather 2009.

I would like to come back to the announced reductions of over $200 million. You said that this represents about 8%, except that more than half of the amount corresponds to amounts transferred to Shared Services Canada. That means that, in total, it's only a decrease of less than 4% of operations.

As for the transfer of $113 million, was it the total budget that was transferred? If not, were there reductions and staffing cuts along the way?

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Thank you for the question. My deputy minister for Public Works and for Shared Services Canada would like to make a comment.

3:50 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Deputy Receiver General for Canada, Department of Public Works and Government Services

François Guimont

Actually, there are two answers to your question. First, with respect to Public Works and Government Services Canada, we transferred over 1,400 employees, at an expense of $100 million, and an additional $13 million for administrative costs, for a total of $113 million.

As for cost recovery—because these people did cost recovery with other departments—an amount of about $387 million represents the revenues of other departments, which will basically be collected through the Revenue Generation and Business Planning Office. So all that will represent the total amounts of money available to Shared Services Canada.

The amount from the department is $113 million. The other amount of $387 million is from the other departments. The amount was not reduced as part of the strategic review exercise. That was done by my colleague, later on.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Could you please answer quickly? Because I have another question.

3:50 p.m.

Liseanne Forand President, Shared Services Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I simply want to clarify something. In fact, the amounts from the departments, whether it's public works or any other department, were transferred in full to Shared Services Canada, during the transfer, which was August 4 in the case of public works, or November 15 for the other departments.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Thank you very much.

Madam Minister, Shared Services Canada has existed since 2011. You are currently requesting a transfer of $1.4 billion, but we have yet to see anything from this organization.

Is it not inappropriate to say that you will work with $1.4 billion when you have nothing to show? I know that you will perhaps tell me about the report on plans and priorities; however, your expenses are not in the Supplementary Estimates (A), but directly in the estimates.

Could you please give me an idea of your schedule for the publication of what I would call your "game plan", with respect to Shared Services Canada?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

I'll make one comment, and then I'll ask Liseanne to speak to that specifically.

The mandate of Shared Services Canada is stabilization and consolidation, so part of that is the budgets—consolidating the budgets from the departments and consolidating the IT sections from all of these departments into one new entity. That's part of why this funding is being transferred.

In terms of the RPP, I'll let Liseanne answer.

3:55 p.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Liseanne Forand

Thank you, Minister.

Thank you for the question.

As the documents issued with the Main Estimates explain, when government responsibilities are transferred mid-year, the credits are automatically transferred. That's what happened on August 4 and November 15, 2011.

For 2011-2012, Shared Services Canada does not have credits as such, but we will as of April 1st, 2012. To explain the use of these credits, we will present a report on our plans and priorities, which will be tabled in the House at the same time as those of the other departments.

Since August 4, 2011, our main priority has been to maintain operational stability in the 43 departments. They have transferred money and employees to us, and we have continued our activities under the plans and projects in effect in those departments until the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pat Martin

Denis, that concludes your time.

Thank you.

The bells are not going yet, so we'll keep going.

Kelly Block, for the Conservatives, you have five minutes.