An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act

Sponsor

Bardish Chagger  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Salaries Act to authorize payment, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, of the salaries for eight new ministerial positions. It authorizes the Governor in Council to designate departments to support the ministers who occupy those positions and authorizes those ministers to delegate their powers, duties or functions to officers or employees of the designated departments. It also makes a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Dec. 13, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
Dec. 11, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
Dec. 11, 2017 Failed Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act (report stage amendment)
June 12, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act
June 12, 2017 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act (reasoned amendment)
June 7, 2017 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act

Extension of Sitting HoursExtension of Sitting HoursGovernment Orders

May 29th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak to the motion before the House. Of course, the essence of this motion has to do with the government's treatment of its own business and its capacity to move legislation through the House of Commons. It has certainly been the case in the past that various governments have decided to extend sittings to try to accomplish some of the business they were not able to accomplish throughout the year.

However, I think that my hon. colleague who just spoke and moved an amendment raises an excellent and fair point. His amendment is a good one in addressing one of the issues of equity in the House. We know that it is the job of the Speaker and the House to balance the needs of the minority against the majority. The amendment recognizes the fact that some people in this place have more power by virtue of the number of MPs within the governing party, and that others do not. I think that point is very well taken in the Conservative amendment. It really is just about making sure that in the government's attempt to create more time to pass more bills in the lead-up to summer that the business and the issues that matter to the opposition are given their equal due.

Of course, some members of this House will know, and certainly you, Mr. Speaker, will know, that supply days originated for the airing of grievances before the crown, before Parliament approves funding. That is why they are kind of archaically called “supply days”. We most often refer to them as “opposition days”, but they are an acknowledgement of the importance of non-government members being able to bring forward important issues for consideration by the House as part of the process of the government's hearing those concerns before Parliament grants it the authority to spend money. Supply days are not just some sort of trivial part of the process. They are not just some sort of tangent. They are certainly not a favour that the government grants the opposition and they are not something the government gets to do what it wants with willy-nilly, as it were.

The proposed amendment simply tries to give that equal weight and value to the issues being brought forward by the opposition, as well as to the government. I think that is perfectly reasonable and it is something we will be supporting.

In the absence of having that fair treatment and the right balancing between the needs of the government and the legitimate needs and purposes of opposition members of the House, it does make it really hard to support the main motion, because in that case we would fail to find that right balance, as it would somehow be implied that simply by virtue of the fact that the government is bringing certain issues forward, those issues are more important and more deserving of time in the House when I think the Standing Orders are very clear that the opposition is entitled to a certain proportion of the time in the House to bring forward the issues that matter, not just to it as the opposition but also to many Canadians whose view the opposition brings to this House and who are not represented within the government.

It is a good amendment. It is one that we will support, and I think in the absence of that amendment's going through, it would be very hard to say this is a fair and balanced motion. It is therefore hard to support.

One of the reasons we are in this predicament, of course, is that there is a lot of government legislation that has yet to be passed. One only has to look at the Order Paper and the number of bills on it, with a little bit of an understanding of where some of those bills come from, to know that the government, remarkably, has not been very ambitious with its legislative agenda. There are bills like Bill C-76, for instance, that have just rolled in other bills. While one could point to the bill number and look at all the bills that have been before Parliament, the fact is that a number of them are simply routine appropriation bills having to do with the business of supply. There are also a number of bills on public service labour issues to repeal some of the nefarious legislation of the Harper government with respect to public servants that, for all the announcements and talk about those bills for years now, have not actually gone anywhere.

One bill gets presented, it gets talked about for awhile, and then a new bill gets that does something a little differently gets presented, and that one gets rolled under, and then there is some talk by government at various events about how there is a new bill before the House and so on. For a government that has not brought a considerable amount of legislation before the House, it is somewhat surprising that the Liberals are having to resort to extraordinary measures to try to get more legislation passed before summer.

It is particularly surprising, notwithstanding some of the comments by the government House leader during the closure debate, because the fact is that our party on an important bill with a deadline, Bill C-76, which makes a large number of modifications to the elections regime in Canada, did make a proposal to government via my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, to move forward with that bill in an expeditious way. By that, I mean not just in a way that allows more members to speak to it, but one that would allow a whole bunch of Canadians in their home communities to speak to the bill and the changes it proposes.

My hon. colleague presented the Minister of Democratic Institutions with a proposal for how to go out across the country, and central to that proposal was ensuring that the bill gets passed by the end of the summer. For the government to say that it sure would be nice if the opposition worked with it, I note that we have been quite willing to work with the government to get legislation passed. When my hon. colleague sent that proposal to the minister, she did not even dignify it with a response. It is hard to hear from the government that it wants to work with opposition members when it does not even bother to respond to proposals by the opposition on how to work together to get a bill passed. It is a bill that has to be passed on a timeline because the government did not act and bring that legislation forward.

Apropos to my point about bills being rolled into each other, Bill C-33 was an act to make a bunch of substantive changes to the Elections Canada Act and other acts that go together in order to, according to the government, improve our elections process. That bill sat on the Order Paper for 18 months and went nowhere. Now we are being told there is a big rush and that we have to get this bill through.

The NDP would like to see that bill passed, but it is a little cheeky of the government to wait so long to bring a bill forward to make those important changes when it knew all along, as did everyone else, that Elections Canada had been very clear about when those changes needed to be introduced and passed by Parliament to be implemented in time for the next election. The Liberals did not meet that deadline and now they are crying foul, saying that opposition parties are being obstructionist despite the fact we sent them a proposal on how to do it more quickly. We wish to goodness that they had just bothered to move it forward 18 months ago when they had a bill on the Order Paper.

None of this is rocket science. There is no black magic here. There is no opposition making unreasonable demands. It is just an opposition disappointed that the Liberals had 18 months to move forward with changes to the elections act after they tabled their own proposals. We wish they had moved forward with them. However, we did not get that opportunity, as we do not say which bills get debated during government orders.

While that was going on and we were not debating Bill C-33, we were debating some bills like Bill C-24, which was a complete and utter waste of time. I will refer members to my comments on Bill C-24. All that bill did was affirm what the government was already doing and what was clearly within its legal mandate to do. If it were not, then the government should tell us, because then it would be an issue of its acting outside its legal mandate and illegally paying ministers of state more. However, it did not seem to be doing that, so presumably we did not need a change in the law.

All the while we debated that bill, the other bill, Bill C-33, was sitting on the table. It could have been taken up and we could have been working on that and meeting the Elections Canada deadline. The government did not need to be in a panic as it is now to get that legislation passed. We could have spent time scrutinizing that legislation and trying to make it better, not just here in Parliament but also by travelling across the country to make sure that Canadians had an opportunity to weigh in on it in their home communities.

However, that was an opportunity they squandered for reasons that remain unclear. I will say that part of it has to do generally with what has become a theme of the government in terms of a serious lack of respect for Parliament. I know the Liberals will say otherwise. We hear a lot about the great respect they have for the work that is done in committees, but let us consider the fact that many committee recommendations are never taken up. We have certainly had instances where committees have amended legislation, only to see the government come in with a heavy hand at report stage and wipe out the amendments that were passed by its own members at committee. That does not make one feel that the Liberals are talking in good faith when they talk about the so-called good work of committees.

Who could forget the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, where the government did not have a majority and a number of parties came together in order to propose a way forward for the government to meet its own election commitment? Who could forget how the Liberals took that work and threw it in the garbage? The day the report was tabled, I remember the minister, with great fanfare, disrespected the work of the committee, because apparently the government thought it would fail and it did not.

Earlier today, we heard the government's own House leader get up and insinuate that concurrence debates were just a waste of time and there was no way an opposition party could move concurrence in a committee report seriously because it actually cared about what the committee said and wanted the House to pronounce on the recommendations of the committee. Of course, that is the whole reason committees do reports and report them back to the House. The current government really does not understand Parliament's place in the system and does not have a lot of respect for it.

I will come back to this theme after private members' business.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

It being 3:18 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-24.

Call in the members.

The House resumed from December 12 consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, be read the third time and passed.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act. This is a technical bill that would fulfill the Prime Minister's commitment to formalize in legislation his one-tier ministry.

As I think we all understand by now, the Salaries Act authorizes payment from the consolidated revenue fund of a ministerial salary to individuals who occupy the positions listed in the act. The act currently lists the position of prime minister and 34 specific ministers.

When the government took office in November 2015, five of the positions the Prime Minister wanted in his ministry and in his cabinet were not listed in the Salaries Act. This meant that they could not be paid for their ministerial responsibilities under the Salaries Act, and they could not be supported by the public service in carrying out their responsibilities. Those five positions are the minister of la Francophonie, the minister of science, the minister of small business and tourism, the minister of sport and persons with disabilities, and the minister of status of women.

Because the Salaries Act could not accommodate those priorities of the government, the five ministers were appointed pursuant to the Ministries and Ministers of State Act, and they are paid under appropriation acts. Their legal title is “minister of state”.

Historically, ministers of state have often been considered junior ministers. They have not always been members of cabinet, and when they were not, they could not bring matters to cabinet for consideration on their own. A cabinet minister had to sponsor the item for them.

Ministers of state were most often not given statutory authorities to exercise in their own right or statutory duties in relation to which they were directly accountable. Instead, they were assigned to assist a senior minister in carrying out the minister's responsibilities. The senior minister retained all the statutory authorities and accountabilities.

For some prime ministers, that was an arrangement that worked. It was the prerogative of the former prime ministers, as it will be the prerogative of future prime ministers, to appoint ministers of state as junior ministers, to assign them assisting roles only, and to decide whether they could sit as members of cabinet. I am certain that past ministers of state were valued and contributing members of the ministry, but they were not always members of cabinet, and they were not the equals of the ministers they assisted.

It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to decide on the organization, procedures, and composition of cabinet and to shape it to reflect the priorities and values of the government and to respond to particular needs of citizens. The Prime Minister has created a ministry in which all members have leading roles to deliver on important priorities. They have an equal capacity to exercise the powers and perform the functions assigned to them. They are all full members of cabinet, and they are all fully and appropriately supported in carrying out their responsibilities.

The Ministries and Ministers of State Act provided a way for five of the ministers to be appointed, paid, and supported by existing departments in carrying out their responsibilities until legislation could be updated to accurately reflect the structure of the current ministry. Bill C-24 is that update. It would formalize in legislation the current ministerial structure and would do away with distracting administrative distinctions.

Bill C-24 would add to the Salaries Act five ministerial positions that are currently minister of state appointments. It bears repeating the important issues and the individuals appointed to these five positions.

They are preserving the vitality of the francophone world; helping small business and tourism; supporting scientific research and making sure that scientific considerations inform the government's policy and funding choices; promoting healthier Canadians through sport, and ensuring greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities; and working to build a society where women and girls no longer face systemic barriers.

These ministers have been assigned statutory responsibilities, including responsibilities for important federal organizations, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Destination Canada, and Status of Women Canada. These ministers are responsible for legislation and program delivery related to matters as diverse and important as science research funding, small business financing, and disabilities. These responsibilities are vested directly in the ministers, who are accountable for the results.

These issues are important to the government and to Canadians. That is why ministers have been assigned to lead on them and why those ministers have a seat at the cabinet table and an equal voice there.

Bill C-24 also adds three untitled positions to the Salaries Act. These positions are not filled in the current ministry. They will provide a degree of flexibility for this Prime Minister and future prime ministers to design their ministries to respond to the priorities of the day. This bill is not about growing the ministry. The current ministry has not grown in number since it was sworn in two years ago. At 31 members in total, it is below the limit of 35 that the Salaries Act sets now.

Bill C-24 would also remove the six regional development positions from the Salaries Act. This amendment would not dissolve or consolidate the regional development agencies. It would not diminish their importance. It would not remove ministerial oversight. The regional development agencies would continue to exist in the regions they serve. They are essential delivery partners in the government's plan to foster economic growth, and they would continue to work with local communities and economic development organizations to promote local growth.

There is nothing novel about not listing these positions in the Salaries Act. Four of the regional development agencies existed for many years before the associated ministerial positions were added to the Salaries Act, and that in no way affected the operation of the agencies or the appointment of ministers to be responsible for them. Ministerial oversight of the regional development agencies will still be required. The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is responsible for all six regional development agencies.

Bill C-24 makes another change to the list of ministerial positions listed in the Salaries Act. It amends the title of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs by dropping the reference to intergovernmental affairs. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities does not have overall responsibility for the federal, provincial, and territorial relations. The Prime Minister has taken on this role. The change in title avoids confusion.

Bill C-24 does not dissolve or create any new departments. Instead, it establishes a framework that allows the governor in council to designate any department or departments to support these new Salaries Act ministers in carrying out some of their responsibilities. That means that the new Salaries Act ministers will have access to the expertise and experience of the departments best placed to support them.

Much has been made about the fact that no new departments are being created for the new ministers. Presiding over a department is not a necessary feature of being a minister. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of International Trade, and Minister of International Development and La Francophonie all use the facilities and resources of a single department, Global Affairs Canada.

The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour both rely on the resources and facilities of the department of Employment and Social Development in carrying out of their responsibilities. This is a proven and efficient way to work.

Bill C-24 generates no incremental costs with respect to the current ministry. The ministers currently appointed as minister of state receive the same salary as their cabinet colleagues and will have office budgets that match their responsibilities. Bill C-24 does not change that.

The legislation would increase the number of ministerial positions that could potentially be paid under the Salaries Act by two, from 35 to 37, including the position of the Prime Minister. The current ministry is composed of the Prime Minister and 30 ministers. As I mentioned earlier, the ministry has not grown since its swearing-in on November 4, 2015. Bill C-24 also has the consequential effect of increasing the number of parliamentary secretaries that may be appointed by two. That would be from 35 to 37.

I began my remarks by saying that this was a technical bill. Let me summarize.

Bill C-24 would amend the Salaries Act by adding eight new ministerial positions to the act, five of which are currently minister of state appointments and three of which are untitled and therefore flexible; removing the six regional development positions from the Salaries Act, without affecting the status of the regional development agencies themselves, for a total increase of two positions that may be paid a ministerial salary out of the consolidated revenue fund; creating a framework within which any of the eight new ministerial positions could be supported fully and appropriately by existing departments; and changing the Salaries Act title of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs to Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and amending the Financial Administration Act to change that title where it appears in that statute to better reflect the responsibilities of the position.

I hope that we can all agree that this bill is worth supporting.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter with respect to Bill C-24 is this. Two years ago, the Liberal government decided they were going to do what they wanted to do and remove the six economic development ministers, to instead pay the junior ministers the same as the senior ministers without any parliamentary oversight whatsoever, showing a total disdain for this House. This bill, then, is just trying to cover up what they did two years ago.

It is very insulting to come to this place and see the disregard of the Liberal government for parliamentary process. Could the member comment?

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-24 this afternoon in the House.

I want to thank my colleagues for the fine work they have done this afternoon in speaking to this bill, an act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act.

I will start, as my colleague from southeast Calgary just did, by saying that as we near the end of the session sometime this week, I want to wish a merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone in my constituency, as well as all Canadians, all members of the House, and the support teams who keep us safe and work for us on a daily basis in the House.

It is pretty important that opposition members speak out about what we hear in our communities and parts of rural Canada. My colleagues from urban areas have spoken on this already. The government has now brought forward a bill that would create eight new Liberal ministerial positions. A number of my constituents wrote to me and called me to indicate that they do not want me to support this bill. I will provide several reasons. One of them is what I just said, the eight new Liberal ministerial positions being formed, five of them being ministers of state roles filled in the 2015 election, plus three Liberal ministers yet to be named. It is a bit of a stretch, but I will get to that later.

Bill C-24 would also amend the Salaries Act to allow for equal pay for all ministers, ensuring that ministers with more junior portfolios are paid the same as ministers with larger and more senior positions. I have always felt there should be equal pay for equal work involved in all ministers' portfolios, but, as described by the government itself, junior ministers do not have the same responsibilities as senior ministers because they do not have any new responsibilities. It is a bit of an oxymoron for the government to want to provide someone with more salary, but not expect the person to do any more work than what was being done in the junior minister position. That is one of the clearer drawbacks in this bill.

There were five ministers of state in the House for a number of years, but they were paid at a different level. This bill would create three new ministerial positions. The Prime Minister could obviously have put new ministers in place when he announced his cabinet in the first place, and Canadians question why he would have to put that clause in a bill like this.

I had experience with regional development agencies when I was in provincial politics and as a farm leader, before I became a federal MP four years ago. The government has placed the responsibilities of six former ministers in the hands of one minister, who is in Mississauga in this case, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. I am all for innovation, but feel strongly that innovation should, at least in a supportive manner, go to regional ministers that we had for development. My colleague from southeast Calgary has indicated that western economic diversification was one of those portfolios. That situation was adept in having action on the ground. When there are ministers in various parts of Canada, as I said earlier in my question, we do not necessarily end up with a minister in every province, but certainly one in each of the regions in Canada. I believe we would have British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces.

They would be much more in tune with the things that are happening in their areas by having someone designated strictly for that. That would be their responsibility. It would be a full-time job in those areas, but the government has indicated that those roles were not as demanding as some areas.

There is concern about our finance minister these days and his credibility. I believe that many of the portfolios, such as international trade, are the things Canada is known for on the international stage. We had a government that had great credibility in finance, under former finance minister Jim Flaherty. I would like to point that out as an example of how when governments change, credibility can be undermined as well.

We need to be very careful when we are looking at the establishment of new ministries, as the government has done, and then saying that it will develop three new ministers. It does not know what they are going to do yet. There are no portfolios, but it has put them in the bill. As I pointed out earlier, it did not need to have those in the bill.

The Liberal dominated committee that studied Bill C-24 did not hear from a single witness about the plan to scrap these regional development ministers. It was not an acceptable kind of politics. That was the government's claim. If the reason it is pulling this back is that it did not like the politics, the Liberals may want to listen to some of their own colleagues and the things they have said about the bill. A lot of the Atlantic folks in ACOA were upset when this portfolio was taken over by one minister in Mississauga. A number of them spoke out. I quote from a committee report:

Generally, centralized decision-making is viewed unfavourably as impeding the agility of programs. The Subcommittee was asked to advocate for regional decision-making in order to better address regional needs.

The subcommittee of the Atlantic members caucus came together, and this was one of the recommendations. This comes from a May 15, 2017, report:

Long processing times dilute business growth, and create inefficiency and uncertainty.

Some businesses have had to obtain bridge funding while waiting for ACOA funds. These circumstances are disruptive to business development.

We have certainly seen how the government has been very disruptive to business development. It has provided uncertainty. There are only 20 days left to the end of the year. The Liberals backtracked all fall on the small business taxes they announced in mid-July. They tried to hoodwink people into thinking they were actually going to do something for small businesses, when all they are really going to do is the same thing they did with the Conservatives' climate change plan. It was so bad, they adopted it as their own. I believe we had strength in that plan.

We had strength in our economic plan. We had strength in the development of our small business plan to reduce taxes to 9%. This is a government that said it would do that, but it froze them in its very first budget at 10.5%. Now it is coming out after a lot of pressure not just from us but from the public, opposition members, our colleagues in the New Democratic Party, and others as well. The Liberals finally realized that they had to further emphasize the work that was still needed to make sure that they did not negatively impact small businesses in Canada any more than they already have. What they have done is leave complete uncertainty, three weeks before the implementation date of January 1, 2018, about the small business tax.

I want to close by saying that there is a complete lack of transparency. Having three future mystery ministers is unacceptable. There is a need to create ministerial equality in these roles, but it has to come with the performance of the ministries that are being asked to do this.

I will leave it at that. It is unheard of for a government to give lip service about wanting to improve these areas and then demonstrating a complete lack of accountability when it comes to the implementation of a number of these bills, such as licensing marijuana, never mind not having looked at the accountability and the enforcement of it. It was the same thing with the small business tax.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again join the debate on this bill, one that I believe we started back in June.

Before I continue, I just want to say merry Christmas to the pages, the table officers, all members of Parliament, as well as the PPS service who keep us safe in this House, and all of those in the administration. I may not get a chance to say it another time, if another bill is brought forward and I am not recognized to speak to it, so merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah to all, and a good night to all.

I have been listening to the debate so far, and the member for Elmwood—Transcona raised a couple of good points on the technical side of this bill. The government keeps saying that these are all just technical changes and will not cost more money, but lead to more synergy, to more all-of-government decision-making, like the changes to small business taxation and electoral reform, I might add, and many other issues the government has just fizzled out on and completely dropped the ball on.

Indeed, we heard from the Liberal member for Brampton East, whom I served with on the finance committee, that it is all technical and that there is nothing to see here, that it is an easy bill that should pass right away.

I have repeatedly said to members that we should be trying to save some money by lowering the pay of all cabinet ministers down to the pay of a minister of state. That would reach all of the stated goals put forward by the government thus far.

On that, the argument on the government side has changed over time. That is one of the great misfortunes that members on that side have borne in defending this bill. “Misfortune binds together” is a Yiddish proverb that comes to mind. I think it very much applies here.

I also want to mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Brandon—Souris. I do not want to rob him of his opportunity to make a contribution to the debate here, as well.

It is the government's misfortune that the argument has changed. Its initial argument framed in terms of equity lends itself easily as well to the argument that we should lower everyone's pay because everyone is equal, and then we can move on. If the argument is about the technical side of it, then every single order in council passed by the Governor General with the recommendation put forward by the Prime Minister has to be redone.

I will just refer to one here, dealing with the minister of state to be styled the minister of la francophonie. It is stated in the order in council that the new minister is to assist the Minister of Foreign affairs in carrying out that minister's responsibilities, effective November 4, 2015, two years ago now.

The government has gone to great lengths and pains to try to explain that this is only technical fix for something that happened maybe two years ago and that there is really nothing to see here. However, that is exactly the point. What we should be debating are issues that actually impact Canadians directly, not a Christmas salary increase for cabinet ministers.

We should be talking about small business taxation. It will be interesting to see what the actual rules will be that small business owners will have to live by starting January 1. We could delve further into the disability tax credit, and find out more about what exactly happened in the department in that regard. The minister has claimed repeatedly in this House that nothing changed, that there was no policy direction given, that nothing new had happened. Now, last week, we saw the government reversing to a previous position. What changed? That would be an interesting debate to have in this chamber.

We could also perhaps debate more globally the general financial, fiscal, public budget process. We heard the member for Spadina—Fort York, I believe it was, claim that the government has been lowering Canadians' taxes, but it has not done that. The Liberals lowered taxes for every single member of Parliament, but not for the vast majority of Canadians. The way that tax brackets work is that people have to maximize their presence in their bracket. They have to earn almost $90,000 before getting the full value of that 1.5% deduction. Every single member of Parliament got the full value. We got the biggest tax reduction. Merry Christmas to us, courtesy of the Government of Canada.

Now the government has raised carbon taxes and payroll taxes and nickel-and-dimed Canadians. In fact, the Fraser Institute has done studies on this, showing that the average Canadian family is paying $800 more in taxes than before. There is not an actual tax reduction. It is something completely different. However, here we are, debating Bill C-24, a tax hike on Canadians, who will pay more to finance these salary increases. We already have a $20 billion deficit that we are running.

My simple question has been repeated to members on the opposite side. Why do we not just reduce the pay of cabinet ministers down to the pay of ministers of state? I think we would find a great deal of support for that, especially on this side, and I daresay perhaps the New Democrats would join us in supporting that.

It would achieve the initial goal, the first argument the government made when the bill was tabled, which is equity, that all ministers would be treated equally, with equal pay for equal work.

From my time in human resources, I know in the province of Alberta there really is no great issue. For the longest time in Alberta, we were just happy to get someone who had the qualifications to do the job. There was great desperation. We would take anyone from across Canada, the United States, anywhere in the world. It did not matter who they were, or where they were from, as long as they could do the job safely, efficiently, and effectively, to maximize the value they brought to the organizations they were working in.

Two years into this mandate and the government has not really succeeded in the construction of these pipelines that are so important to the province of Alberta. We have approvals on the table, but we still have political issues with getting them constructed. The private corporations that have to build them are still struggling. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the market.

However, here we are debating a salary increase for cabinet ministers, instead of debating the great issues of the day. This chamber was built for debating the great issues of the day, not salary increases for cabinet ministers, a mere two weeks before Christmas. That is the wrong approach.

The government decides what we debate. It decides the issues of the day. It gets to put forth legislation and then decide which bills we will debate. Now, we are here debating Bill C-24, to amend the Salaries Act, and give pay increases to cabinet ministers. As I said, if the stated initial goal was equity, we could have lowered everyone's pay and moved on to something else.

I hear an argument being made now that it is a technical amendment that would allow ministers to work better together. Then every single order in council is going to have to be amended once again. Titles are not how decisions are made. When ministers sit around the table they do not look at each other's titles and say, “You have a more important title, so we'll listen to you more than another person”. At the end of the day, it rests on the leadership of the prime minister to choose between the different options and the best arguments made at the table. Titles do not matter.

From my time working in human resources, that was the thing I heard the most from directors of human resources in various organizations. They repeatedly said that titles do not matter. It is what they bring to the table, their ideas, their arguments, the work they have put in before coming to the table to make a decision.

What the government is saying is that some ministers, in its own government, are unable to do their jobs if they do not get a salary increase and a title bump. That sounds ridiculous to me. It does not even sound reasonable. That is an issue internal to the cabinet then, if they are unable to make decisions without looking at each other's titles. Perhaps we could pass a piece of legislation that removes all of their titles. Perhaps we could create a system by which no minister would know what another minister is saying without being able to ascribe to them a particular argument. It would go to the ridiculous, but so is debating this legislation, a pay hike for cabinet ministers, ahead of Christmas.

It is not about the status of different ministries, because we know this legislation would create three new ministers. Ministers can be appointed without portfolio. A minister's role in not necessarily connected to the department they oversee, serve with, or direct. Ministers have been appointed in the House before with no portfolio. The two issues are completely separate. The title of a minister, the functions they fulfill, are not necessarily dependent on their ministry. Likewise, neither should their salary be dependent on it.

If we want to go a step further, perhaps we could introduce a pay for performance. That would probably be the best system we could have. Certain ministers have performed well. Others have performed abysmally, especially the Minister of Finance.

The addition of these three new ministers also lends itself to my final argument. If the government is looking for ideas on what types of ministers to appoint, let me suggest a minister for seniors. The government took that away. It was a priority of the previous Conservative government. At the time it had a minister for seniors. We do not have that right now. When I held a round table in my riding with widows and seniors, all women, the number one issue for them was they did not have a champion in government. They said it was difficult for them to manoeuvre through government bureaucracy, to figure out what types of benefits they and their spouses were entitled to.

Bill C-24 will undoubtedly pass in the House. It is a great mistake. We have done a disservice to Parliament to be debating this legislation ahead of Christmas when we should have been debating the great issues of the day, issues such as reducing the deficit, paying down the national debt, and ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with unnecessary debt.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that one of the main themes for the government with respect to this bill is the idea of a one-tier ministry. It keeps coming up. We have tried and I have tried in various stages of debate on the bill to try to figure out what exactly that means and what the relevant sense of equal is for the government when the Liberals talk about a one-tier ministry. It seems to be an important principle for them. If the idea of all cabinet ministers being equal at the table is a really important and motivating idea for the government, why would Bill C-24 leave ministers of state in the legislation? If ministers of state are objectionable in principle because they create two tiers, why are they left in the legislation? Why is it that the Department of Global Affairs continues to be defined in a hierarchy, and puts the minister of foreign affairs above the ministers of international trade and international aid, who can only act with the concurrence of the minister of foreign affairs?

Why is it that Bill C-24 would create two types of minister, a minister for whom a department is designated and a minister, full stop? If the idea of Bill C-24 is to create one tier of ministry, would it not make more sense to be reducing the taxonomy of ministers as opposed to expanding it? I just am looking, finally at third reading, at some of the last speeches on the bill to get some clarity as to how it is that a bill that is supposed to be promoting one tier leaves so many hierarchical relationships between ministers and actually creates mechanisms to produce more.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, be read the third time and passed.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 3:50 p.m.
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Spadina—Fort York Ontario

Liberal

Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with the intention of speaking about Bill C-24, which would formalize in statute the one-tier ministry of this government. We are ensuring, through this bill, that the current and future governments will have the flexibility required to meet their commitments to Canadians.

As we know, the government introduced this bill to amend the Salaries Act on September 27, 2016.

The Salaries Act authorizes the payments out of the consolidated revenue fund of a ministerial salary to individuals who have been appointed to ministerial positions listed in the act. There are currently 35 ministerial positions listed in the Salaries Act, including the position of prime minister. The Salaries Act was first introduced into statute in 1868 as “An Act respecting the Governor General, the Civil List, and the Salaries of certain Public Functionaries.”

This act has changed countless times throughout our country's history, modified always with the intention to align with the priorities of the government of the day and each prime minister's preferences in how he or she composes the ministry. Our change in Bill C-24 is hardly new. In the last dozen years, we saw legislation to amend the list of ministries in the Salaries Act three times. It was enacted in 2005, 2012, and of course, 2013.

I would now like to take the opportunity to summarize the proposed changes that Bill C-24 would bring to the Salaries Act. First, the legislation would provide for including in the Salaries Act the five ministerial positions that are currently minister of state appointments, thereby doing away with the administrative distinctions this government has had to employ under the Ministries and Ministers of State Act.

Previous cabinets have seen ministers of state considered to be junior ministers because previous prime ministers have determined that such ministers of state should be appointed to assist other ministers with their portfolio responsibilities. Our current context does not agree or find this way of thinking to be operational or suitable. Our Prime Minister's intention has been to create a one-tier cabinet, and the distinction of ministers of state as junior ministers fails to reflect the importance of the subject matters at issue, as well as the value of equality that this government holds in the highest esteem.

The five new ministerial positions to be added to the Salaries Act are minister of la Francophonie, minister of small business and tourism, minister of science, minister of status of women, and minister of sport and persons with disabilities. The five ministers will continue to advance the priorities of the government that were established by the Prime Minister and set out in their mandate letters and legal instruments. These are important positions, with roles and responsibilities becoming of full ministers.

The minister of la Francophonie pursues Canada's strong and sustained commitment to all 80 member states and governments of la Francophonie. Together, these constitute more than one-third of the United Nations' membership and account for a population of more than 890 million people worldwide, including 220 million French speakers.

The minister of science plays the key role of ensuring that Canada is competitive in the global knowledge-based economy through being responsible for supporting scientific research and integrating scientific considerations into the government's investments and policy choices. The minister is also responsible for portfolio organizations, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Furthermore, the minister of science is the lead minister for a number of science-related funding programs, including the Canada research chairs. Our government holds innovation as a key priority, and it is through scientific innovation that we will continue to build an economy that is both environmentally sustainable and prosperous.

The minister of sport and persons with disabilities works to promote healthier Canadians through sport and recreation and, further, is responsible for work that ensures greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities. The current minister has been tasked with developing legislation to transform how the Government of Canada addresses accessibility. The minister leads on a number of important funding programs, including the enabling accessibility fund and the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities, and is responsible for the Canada Disability Savings Act.

The minister of status of women champions equality, addresses issues of gender-based violence, advances the prosperity and economic security of women, and works to increase the representation of women in leadership and decision-making roles. The minister presides over the federal department known as Status of Women Canada and is involved in key projects such as gender-based analysis to guide government policy-making decisions and budgets.

In her role as Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the current minister supports Canada's small businesses, the backbone of our economy, by helping them to grow through trade and innovation in order to create jobs, support communities, and launch world-class companies. She is also working to grow Canada's tourism industries by promoting Canada as a world-class destination for international tourists. She is, furthermore, the minister responsible for Destination Canada.

As we see, these portfolios are important to our economy, to Canadians, and to the government. Formalizing the status of these five appointments as ministers in full standing reflects the importance of these five positions and the expectations placed on their incumbents. Once these positions are added to the Salaries Act with the adoption of Bill C-24, the orders in council that assign these ministers to assist other ministers would be repealed and these ministers would be in law what they already are in practice, which is full ministers.

I would be remiss if I were not to mention the key issue of cost. The enactment of Bill C-24 would not change the cost of the current ministry. All that would change are the payment mechanisms. Ministers whose positions are listed in the Salaries Act receive their ministerial salary under the authority of that statute and out of the consolidated revenue fund. Ministers appointed under the Ministries and Ministers of State Act receive their salary under the appropriations acts. That has been the legislative framework for more than two decades, but once Bill C-24 is passed, the former ministers of state would be appointed to the new Salaries Act positions and be paid under the authority of that act.

The Prime Minister's ministerial team already receive the same ministerial salary, regardless of the administrative distinctions of ministers and ministers of state. This equal pay has been the case since our first day in office, and we will not change this through the enactment of the bill.

Bill C-24 further provides the framework to permit these ministers to continue to be supported by existing departments in the carrying out of their responsibilities. The bill does not propose the creation of any new departments, but rather streamlines the responsivity of existing departments to these ministers.

I would like to further note that Bill C-24 would increase the number of ministers who could potentially be paid a ministerial salary under the Salaries Act from 35 to 37 including the Prime Minister, representing an increase of two ministerial positions that could be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.

The bill would also have the consequential effect of increasing by two the number of parliamentary secretaries who could be appointed under the Parliament of Canada Act. Let me point out, however, that even before bringing forth the bill to the House, the Prime Minister currently has 34 ministerial positions available to him under the Salaries Act but has appointed only 30 individuals to the ministry. The bill is not fundamentally aimed at growing the ministry. Its goal is to formalize in legislation the government's current one-tier ministry and to modernize the act to enable more flexible and more adaptable ministries in the future.

We are not just concerned with addressing our government's priorities in the immediate term through the amendments in Bill C-24. Rather, we want to ensure that future ministries can be best equipped with all the necessary tools to be structured in ways to meet the emerging priorities of the time. By adding three untitled ministerial positions to the Salaries Act, Bill C-24 would enhance the flexibility of government. Such positions would be titled at the discretion of the prime minister, to be based upon the priorities of the time, whatever those may be. In this way, the prime minister can adjust his or her cabinet and its positions to respond to changing priorities or challenges facing the country.

The alignment of all regional development agencies under one portfolio, especially under the minister responsible for national economic development, is another example of this.

One of our government's priorities has been to see regional and national expertise working together under one roof. We have done so to create better synergy and opportunities for greater economic progress, and this coherent whole-of-government approach to regional development provides the flexibility needed to make a real impact in communities right across Canada.

The regional development agencies will continue to fulfill their mandates of supporting small and medium-size enterprises in becoming more innovative, productive, and export-oriented. They will continue to work with communities and economic development organizations to identify and generate opportunities for local economic growth.

The regional development agencies will continue to provide excellent programs and services to entrepreneurs and communities right across the country, building on the distinct competitive regional advantages that exist in different communities.

Working together, the regional agencies will enhance cohesion between them and help grow the economy and deliver results to Canadians in all regions of the country. The important role, which economic development plays across Canada's regions, is only strengthened and highlighted by having the regional agencies all report to Parliament through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Finally, the legislation would also change the legal title of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental affairs to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, to reflect the fact that the Prime Minister has taken on the role of intergovernmental affairs minister himself.

These changes formalize what has already been the practice of the past two years. The Prime Minister's cabinet is one tier. We have taken all the non-legislative steps available to us to recognize this. These amendments address an administrative constraint in the current legislation and catch it up with the structure of the ministry as it operates today.

I would like to end my remarks with a nod to history. As we are all proudly aware, Canadians across this country have been celebrating a very special milestone this year, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. A century and a half ago, the Fathers of Confederation gathered to create something very special, something we all cherish.

As the story goes, upon arriving at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, future prime minister John A. Macdonald was checking into a hotel. The ledger presented to him for registration included a column asking for occupation. Rather than write lawyer, he picked up the fountain pen and he wrote cabinetmaker. It was a joke, but at the time a very prescient one, because upon assuming the role of Canada's first prime minister he acknowledged that one of his most significant challenges would be to bring the right people to the cabinet table to help the fledgling country find its feet. As former prime minister Macdonald liked to tell people, cabinets do not just happen; cabinets are constructed. Over the years, that construction has taken different forms.

In 1867, there were just 14 ministers around the cabinet table, 14 men from relatively similar walks of life. They were responsible for portfolios such as militia and defence, inland revenue, and the post office. One hundred and fifty years later, we have a diverse, accomplished, gender-balanced cabinet working on so many important priorities for Canadians, and that cabinet reflects the diversity of Canada. Let us get on with enacting this bill and putting behind us any question that others might have had about the importance of these mandates or the status of these ministers who are leading on these files and others.

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December 12th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very technical question. The crux of Bill C-24 is very much to ensure that all cabinet ministers are equal. What the bill would do is ensure that all ministers have the resources, responsibilities, and independence to bring issues to cabinet.

They are full cabinet ministers. The fact that they are using the same resources is an efficiency. It is a proven model that has worked.

I can give the member an example. The Minister of Science, the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development are all sourced out of the department of economic development. It is a great model to ensure that all three ministers, through Bill C-24, would be able to be paid and would be able to share these resources.

This is very much a technical bill to ensure that going forward, prime ministers would have the flexibility to change the types of ministries they need to serve Canadians. As we have a rapidly growing economy, this kind of flexibility will be needed by future prime ministers. That is what this bill would do.

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Brampton East on his apparent knowledge of the bill and to somewhat probe that extensive knowledge of Bill C-24 and the Salaries Act.

One of the things he mentioned about the problem with ministers of state was that the government was not able to pay them under the Salaries Act and that they were not capable of being resourced by the public service to the extent other ministers are.

Given the member's familiarity with the act, I am sure he will know that ministers of state who are supported by a ministry of state, which is another cabinet-making tool of the Prime Minister, are actually mentioned in the Salaries Act. They are actually required by law to be paid the same as full ministers. Ministries of state essentially act as departments responsible to those ministers of state, a situation that would actually afford them more independence than the Minister of International Trade has from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

With respect to the goal of creating a one-tier cabinet and properly resourcing ministers of state, would it not have been a more effective option to establish these ministers of state with a ministry of state? In that case, they would be paid the same under the existing Salaries Act, before Bill C-24, and would be resourced appropriately from the public service, while maintaining their independence as ministers,

Salaries ActGovernment Orders

December 12th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Calgary Shepard for the question and for his passion for those in cabinet and those working hard to join it.

Bill C-24 would ensure that we have legislation in place. It is very much a technical bill, as I said, to ensure that all cabinet ministers are treated equally. Our government was elected on a pledge of ensuring that we would have gender parity in cabinet and that all cabinet ministers would have equal roles, responsibilities, and, most important, accountability. The incremental cost would be minimal to ensure that ministers had the resources to deliver for Canadians.

Ministers are delivering for Canadians. That is why the opposition is so frustrated on a daily basis. We have created 600,000 jobs in this economy in two years. We have the fastest growing GDP in the G7. We have an unemployment rate that has gone from 7.2% to 5.9%. I understand my colleague's frustration.

This bill is a technical bill that is going to ensure that ministers have the responsibilities, resources, and accountability that goes with their portfolios.

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December 12th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Raj Grewal Liberal Brampton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-24, an act to amend the Salaries Act. This is a technical bill, and it would fulfill the Prime Minister's commitment to formalize the legislation to ensure that there is a one-tier ministry. As I think we all understand by now, the Salaries Act authorizes payment, out of the consolidated revenue fund, of a ministerial salary to individuals who occupy the positions listed in the act. The act currently lists the positions of prime minister and 34 specific ministries.

When the government took office in November 2015, five of the positions that the Prime Minister wanted in his ministry and in his cabinet were not positions listed in the Salaries Act. That meant they could not be paid for their ministerial responsibilities under the Salaries Act and they could not be supported by the public service in the carrying out of their responsibilities. The five positions are the Minister of La Francophonie, the Minister of Science, the Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and the Minister of Status of Women. Because the Salaries Act could not accommodate the priorities of the government, the five ministers were appointed pursuant to the Ministries and Ministers of State Act and they are paid under the Appropriation Act. Their legal title is minister of state.

Historically, ministers of state have often been considered as junior ministers. They have not always been members of cabinet and when they have not, they could not bring matters to cabinet for consideration on their own, a cabinet minister had to sponsor them. Ministers of state were most often not given statutory authority to exercise in their own right statutory duties in relation to which they were directly accountable. Instead, they were assigned to assist a senior minister in the carrying out of that minister's responsibilities. The senior minister retained all the statutory authority and accountability. For some prime ministers, that was an arrangement that worked. It was the prerogative of former prime ministers, as it will be the prerogative of future prime ministers, to appoint ministers of state as junior ministers, to assign them as assisting roles only, and to decide whether they would sit as members of cabinet. I am certain that past ministers of state were valued and contributing members of the ministry, but they were not always members of the cabinet and they were not equals of the ministers they assisted.

It is the prerogative of the prime minister to decide on the organization, procedures, and composition of cabinet, shaping it to reflect the priorities and values of the government and to respond to the particular needs of citizens. This Prime Minister has created a ministry in which all members have leading roles to deliver on important priorities. They have an equal capacity to exercise the powers and perform the functions assigned to them and are full members of cabinet, and are fully and appropriately supported in the carrying out of their responsibilities. The Ministries and Minister of State Act provided a way for five of the ministers to be appointed, paid, and supported by existing departments in carrying out their responsibilities until legislation could be updated to accurately reflect the structure of the current ministry. Bill C-24 is that update. It would formalize in legislation the current ministerial structure and would do away with distracting administrative decisions.

Bill C-24 would add to the Salaries Act five ministerial positions that are currently minister of state appointments. It bears repeating the important issues that the individuals appointed to these five positions are working on: preserving the respect of the francophone world; helping small businesses and tourism; supporting scientific research and making sure that scientific considerations inform the government's policy and funding choices; promoting healthier Canadians through sport and ensuring greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities; and working to build a society where women and girls no longer face systemic barriers. These ministries have been assigned statutory responsibilities including responsibilities for important federal organizations, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Destination Canada, and Status of Women Canada.

These ministers are responsible for legislation and program delivery related to matters as diverse and important as science research funding, small business financing, and individuals with disabilities. These responsibilities are vested directly in the ministers, and they are accountable for their results. These issues are important to the government and to Canadians. This is why ministers have been assigned to lead on them, and why those ministers have seats at the cabinet table with equal voices.

Bill C-24 also adds three untitled positions to the Salaries Act. These positions are not filled in the current ministry. They will provide a degree of flexibility for this Prime Minister and future prime ministers to design their ministries to respond to the priorities of the day. This bill is not about growing the ministry. The current ministry has not grown in numbers since it was sworn in two years ago. At 31 members in total, it is below the limit of 35 that the Salaries Act sets now.

Bill C-24 would also remove the six regional development positions from the Salaries Act. This amendment would not dissolve or consolidate the regional development agencies. It would not diminish their importance. It would not mean the ministerial oversight would be gone. The regional development agencies would continue to exist in the regions they serve. They are essential delivery partners in the government's plan to foster economic growth, and they will continue to work with local communities and economic development organizations to promote local growth.

There is nothing novel about not listing these positions in the Salaries Act. Four of the regional development agencies existed for many years before associated ministerial positions were added to the Salaries Act, and that in no way affected the operations of the agencies or the appointment of ministers to be responsible for them. Ministerial oversight of the regional development agencies would still be required by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. He is responsible for all six regional development agencies.

Bill C-24 makes another change to the list of ministerial positions in the Salaries Act. It amends the title of Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs by dropping the reference to intergovernmental affairs. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities does not have overall responsibility for federal, provincial, and territorial relations. The Prime Minister has taken on that role. The change in the title avoids further confusion.

Bill C-24 does not dissolve or create any new departments. Instead, it establishes a framework that allows the Governor in Council to designate any department or departments to support the new Salaries Act ministers in carrying out some of or all of their responsibilities. That means that the new Salaries Act ministers will have access to the expertise and the experience of the department, the best place to support them.

Much has been made about the fact that no new departments are being created for new ministers. Presiding over a department is not a necessary feature of being a minister. The ministers of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and International Development and La Francophonie all use the facilities and resources in a single department, Global Affairs Canada. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour both rely on the resources and facilities of the department of Employment and Social Development Canada in the carrying out of their responsibilities. This is a proven and efficient way to work.

Bill C-24 generates no incremental costs with respect to the current ministry. The ministers currently appointed as ministers of state receive the same salary as their cabinet colleagues, and have office budgets that match their responsibilities. Bill C-24 does not change that. The legislation increases the number of ministerial positions that could potentially be paid under the Salaries Act by two, from 35 to 37, including the position of Prime Minister.

Ministers currently receive additional remuneration of $82,600 a year for their ministerial duties. If all 37 Salaries Act positions were filled by separate individuals, the total incremental cost would be $165,200 a year. We are below the limit now. The current ministry is composed of the Prime Minister and 30 ministers. As I mentioned earlier, the ministry has not grown since its swearing in on November 4, 2015.

Bill C-24 would also have the consequential effect of increasing the number of parliamentary secretaries that may be appointed by two, from 35 to 37. There are currently 35 parliamentary secretaries, and if the two additional positions were filled, the total incremental cost would be $34,000 a year.

I began my remarks by saying that this was a technical bill. Let us summarize for everyone in the House.

Bill C-24 would amend the Salaries Act by adding eight new ministerial positions, five of which are currently minister of state appointments and three of which would be untitled, and therefore, flexible. It would remove the six regional development positions from the Salaries Act without affecting the status of regional development agencies themselves, for a total increase of two positions that would be paid ministerial salaries out of the consolidated revenue fund. It would create a framework within which any of the eight new ministerial positions could be supported fully and appropriately by existing departments. It would change the title of the minister of infrastructure, communities and intergovernmental affairs in the Salaries Act to the minister of infrastructure and communities, and it would amend the Financial Administration Act to change the title where it appears in that statute to better reflect the responsibilities of the position.

I hope we can all agree that this bill is worth supporting.

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December 12th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if my hon. colleague disagrees with us pointing out the horrible actions of the sports minister , insulting and attacking people who are suffering from thalidomide, an issue that arose so many years ago, or bringing up the fact that the finance minister is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner. People from the Liberal government have stated that the bill is about equality. We heard that at committee until the NDP witness, a gender studies professor, told them the bill was dishonest by pushing gender equity.

I fully believe we should have equality of opportunity and I am perfectly fine with a gender balanced cabinet. What I disagree with is that Bill C-24 has been somewhat a bill about nothing. Everything the government is currently doing, whether it is paying ministers of state more, calling them full ministers, or eliminating the various regional minister's roles, has been done since day one.

Why are we taking up all this time when there are so many other more important items that we are not addressing? Again, there is the whistle-blower act. We were told by one the government members that there was no legislative time. Why is the priority codifying issues the government does not need, while ignoring more important legislation?