Evidence of meeting #33 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was economic.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Ronnie Campbell  Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • David Enns  Deputy Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Rick Stewart  Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Liaison Secretariat for Macroeconomic Policy, Privy Council Office
  • Taki Sarantakis  Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Communications Branch, Infrastructure Canada
  • Natasha Rascanin  Assistant Deputy Minister, Program Operations Branch, Infrastructure Canada
  • Robert Dunlop  Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry
  • Douglas Nevison  General Director, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance
  • Elisha Ram  Director, Microeconomic Policy Analysis, Department of Finance
  • John Affleck  Principal, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
  • Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Joann Garbig

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Mr. Dubé.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé Chambly—Borduas, QC

Thank you very much.

We are talking about the famous report that we would like the government to present to follow up on the program objectives. This has brought another question to mind. Should the OAG also follow up?

I have to politely disagree with what Mr. Shipley said because there are many small projects, and the machine cannot be evaluated without the evaluation of its various components.

In this regard, Mr. Campbell indicated at the outset that when discussing the objectives attained or the overall assessment, a problem was noted with one program in particular. Therefore, it is important to really evaluate all the different programs. Some were successful, whereas others had problems.

With that in mind, would you agree that there should be follow-up, once it is all behind us, in order to truly assess the different projects or to carry out a detailed audit?

10:20 a.m.

Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Ronnie Campbell

Thank you.

I'll just point out that there have been three things the Office of the Auditor General has done to date on this. One was laying out our expectations and our criteria to the government in advance of the audit. The second was undertaking the first audit of the economic action plan to be able to comment on how the overall program was designed. The third was to complete the audit we've just done, which was done when the majority of the projects were completed.

The fourth thing that has to come is what committee members are asking from the government. What we've recommended from the government is a credible assessment of the extent to which that variety of tools helped the Canadian economy. Once that's done, we will look at all the other things we have to do, take the members' comments into account, and determine, among the list of many other things on our plate, whether at that time there would be value in doing a follow-up.

Thank you.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you.

We'll go to Mr. Aspin. You have the floor, sir.

March 13th, 2012 / 10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for appearing before the committee. It's indeed a pleasure to have such a team as yours. In my opinion, this is a real success story.

As my colleague Mrs. Bateman has indicated, to have such a cross-ministerial initiative is incredible within the time period. The results are incredible: 600,000 jobs; number one in the world in terms of economic recovery. I realize my colleagues across the road want more detail. That will probably come, as you've indicated, Mr. Campbell. I'm looking forward to that. On first blush, I think Canadians across the country should be very pleased at your results.

As Mr. Dreeshen has already indicated, I'm a member of the parliamentary post-secondary education caucus as well. I’ve travelled on a couple of trips to look at the various good results of the KIP program. The universities and colleges have indicated to us what a great program that was, and you've indicated in your remarks the good results from the program.

Mr. Dunlop, is there some indication that there will be a recommendation forthcoming, that possibly we can direct our future efforts for some of this funding? Because not all of the needs, as you can appreciate, and you know far better than I, were accommodated during that program. As knowledge and innovation are key to our future growth potential, is there some mechanism in place to further encourage the government to invest in this type of activity?

10:25 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Innovation Sector, Department of Industry

Robert Dunlop

Thank you for the question.

All I can really say is that the government was very clear from the beginning that this was a temporary program we were asked to administer. If others wish to make that suggestion to the government, it's really not for us in the public service to make those kinds of recommendations. I know they have been receiving representations from universities, colleges, and others.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Aspin Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Someone mentioned that some programs were designed after the American experience in the recovery program in the States. Is there analysis available or will there be an analysis available on how we did relative to them?

10:25 a.m.

General Director, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Douglas Nevison

When I mentioned the U.S. experience with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it wasn't necessarily from a design perspective in terms of how our particular programs were designed vis-à-vis similar programs in the United States. It was more in terms of the macroeconomic assessment of jobs and economic impact. In that case, they followed roughly the same approach.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Thank you, Mr. Aspin.

Mr. Byrne, there are a couple of minutes left. You're welcome to it.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Concerning the follow-up report itself, does the government feel that any of the expectations of the Auditor General concerning the reporting structure, the content, are too onerous? Is there anything the government has concerns about, whether it can meet the expectations as outlined by the Office of the Auditor General?

10:25 a.m.

General Director, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Douglas Nevison

Mr. Chair, I'll take that one.

In general, as I mentioned, the government has released seven reports to Canadians on the effectiveness of the economic action plan. They generally attempt to address the issues raised by the Office of the Auditor General, whether the impact of the various measures have been successful in achieving the results. Again, the main objective was to maintain and create jobs. I suspect that the final report will follow a similar approach.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

But will you be able to provide a detailed analysis with methodology based on the expectations? Your existing conversations with the Office of the Auditor General have provided you some insight on what exactly they are looking for. Do you anticipate there may be some gaps or holes, that you may not be able to fulfill those expectations?

10:25 a.m.

General Director, Economic and Fiscal Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Douglas Nevison

I think we'll be able to fulfill the expectations. I think both the first audit and the second audit have been very helpful, in terms of reporting and what is required. As I said, I think it's consistent with the methodology we have adopted.

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Chair David Christopherson

Okay.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Is that all the time?