Evidence of meeting #41 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

  • Michelle Doucet  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services, Privy Council Office
  • Bill Pentney  Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, Privy Council Office
  • Marc Bélisle  Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Planning Division, Privy Council Office
  • Greta Bossenmaier  Senior Executive Vice-President, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Arun Thangaraj  Director General, Business Planning Resources Management and Systems, Canadian International Development Agency
  • Julia Hill  Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pat Martin

You have five seconds left if you like, Kelly.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

How many countries of focus were there for the Muskoka initiative?

4:55 p.m.

Senior Executive Vice-President, Canadian International Development Agency

Greta Bossenmaier

I'm going to turn to our director general from our geographic programs branch.

Would you have that information?

4:55 p.m.

Julia Hill Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Yes. There are 10 countries.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Pat Martin

Thank you, Kelly.

Next, for the NDP, we'll have Linda Duncan. You have five minutes.

April 30th, 2012 / 4:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

And thank you again for appearing.

Just for the record, I want to express our disappointment that the minister has not appeared. We fully expected her to be here. It's our opportunity to question her.

I have a couple of questions.

I noted that in the report of the Auditor General in 2009, she reported on red tape. Now, this government has been very diligent in saying that it's going to reduce red tape for businesses in Canada and reduce the intrusion of the administration.

The Auditor General, in her 2009 report, on page 27, says“[b]urdensome administrative processes hamper effective decision making”. I know, from my personal experience working on major CIDA projects in Indonesia and Bangladesh, that the level of reporting can sometimes go to the point of absurdity, and it can be hard to find time to actually deliver the aid project.

I wonder if you could tell us if you've included in your main estimates any kinds of initiatives for reducing that administrative burden in response to the Auditor General. And in what way does that improve the delivery of aid? In some way, does that have to do with reducing the number of PYs in CIDA? In other words, there's less work to do administering all of this reporting.

4:55 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

Thank you for the question.

We do have a business modernization initiative in the agency that was launched, I would say, two years ago that is working quite diligently at streamlining processes. There's some re-engineering involved in that. There is also a very significant effort around results and reporting to bring together and facilitate much of the work that is required. We make sure that we have clear, well-articulated results that are consistent with Treasury Board expectations, and we tie them back to our processes to make sure they're simplified.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Can you tell me the percentage of time in the projects, in their budgets, for reporting, and has there been any reduction in the number of staff needed at CIDA headquarters to oversee all the administrative reporting?

4:55 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

We're still at a pilot stage with a number of them. Certainly on the pilots, we are finding that it's a more efficient process. It's early days yet to be able to provide overall savings.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Thanks.

I've noted since I was elected that there has been a reduction in and a consolidation of the number of countries Canada is delivering aid to. I'm wondering if you could advise us on the criteria for determining which countries are struck off and which are included. Is that criteria transparent? Is it at the discretion of the minister? Is it at the discretion of CIDA? Do those factors include good governance, transparency, and reduced corruption?

4:55 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

There were a number of criteria established, which included need, the ability to actually make a difference, and the effectiveness and efficiency of working with that country. It's on that basis that propositions came forward from the department. Those are the decisions of the government rather than the department.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

I'm simply raising that because in the introductory remarks it was mentioned that one of the priorities for CIDA is to support the development of good governance. It seems logical to me that one of the criteria for continuing aid where there's been aid for 10, 20, or 30 years, for example, would be whether they are moving in a path of reducing corruption and improving good governance. Is that not right now one of the criteria for deciding who's in and who's out?

5 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

I would suggest that it's part of what we consider the ability to make the difference. And there is efficiency and effectiveness. Can you actually work in that country? Can you actually work with that government? Is the government actually behind its own poverty reduction strategy?

5 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Okay. That's interesting.