Evidence of meeting #12 for Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was charity.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ian Shugart  Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office
Gina Wilson  Deputy Minister, Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Department of Canadian Heritage
Benoît Robidoux  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development
Mary Dawson  As an Individual

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I believe that is in process, but I haven't the details off the top of my head.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

It still has the money, as far as we know.

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

We'll have to provide that information, Chair.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

The ESDC had carriage of the file, yet no minister from ESDC signed off on the contribution agreement. How many times have you seen a department do a contribution agreement with a funding recipient without the minister signing off?

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

In fact, Minister Chagger was the responsible minister. She did sign the contribution agreement.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

She's not with the ESDC, so she's not with the department that—

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

She is, by order in council, associated with ESDC for the purposes of the relevant programs.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

When was she granted signing authority for this agreement?

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

We would have to confirm that for you. I think it might have been in March, but I would have to confirm that.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

When did the employment minister decide not to sign either the MC or the contribution agreement?

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

The employment minister was not the responsible minister for the purposes of the program. Beyond that, I can't say.

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

I've never borne witness to a non-ESDC minister signing an ESDC contribution agreement and an ESDC memorandum to cabinet. It is bizarre that none of the ministers who are actually with that department would have been involved in either of those two submissions.

1:20 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

But the—

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Carleton, ON

It suggests neither of them wanted to have their name on this.

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Mr. Poilievre, that is time.

You can give a quick response.

1:25 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I want to be very clear that Minister Chagger was associated with the department for purposes of programming related to youth, done by order in council, and that is not unprecedented at all. A minister can be effectively cross-appointed to another department for purposes of program responsibility. That's what happened in this case.

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Thank you.

We'll move on to Ms. Zahid for five minutes, please.

August 11th, 2020 / 1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you, Chair. I will be sharing my time with my colleague Mr. Gerretsen.

Thank you, Mr. Shugart, for appearing before the committee. Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of all Canadians.

Over the last five months, there has been a lot of discussion about the capacity of the public service to deliver programs like the Canada student service grant. I know that our world-class public servants adapted during these extraordinary circumstances, trying to navigate through this pandemic to deliver several key emergency benefits to all Canadians, all in condensed time frames, clearly stretching our program delivery ability to its limit.

Would you agree that at the time the Canada student service grant program was being developed and different options were being explored, the public service was at the point where, in order to deliver programs like the Canada student service grant, they needed some assistance and didn't have the capacity to do it themselves?

1:25 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

We have indicated that with the particular design of this program, given its scale and the desire for rapidity of beginning the program, the closest vehicle within the public service for delivering it would have been the Canada Service Corps, which was being designed and gradually built. It was very clearly not going to be able to deliver a program on this scale and proactively to do the outreach to Canadian students to get them involved. At that point, therefore, the requirement for a third party was identified, and consideration was given to those who might be able to do it.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Would you say that the Government of Canada is normally in the business of delivering programs like the Canada student service grant and that these concierge types of programs help match and train people like our young Canadians? We see the government funding programs like the Canada summer jobs program, but we don't see the government doing the actual matching and hiring, and also the training of the young Canadians. Would that be correct?

1:25 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I think in general to this point that has been true, although the form of that may vary. The Canada Job Bank, for example, is a program of long standing which is fundamentally an IT platform for matching jobs with those looking for work. This program had features that were much more hands-on. There is nothing inherently saying that a government department could not deliver that kind of program, but it would be a matter of policy, an administrative policy as to whether that would be the most effective use of public resources.

Any time a government considers outsourcing services from the public sector to private sector providers, it's essentially the same question: Who is best placed to deliver this program in the public interest? In this case, there just was not the time or the existing capability in that tailored way for a public service program to take this on.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Salma Zahid Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Thank you.

I will pass it on to Mr. Gerretsen.

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Thank you.

Madam Chair, I really don't have time for a question, so perhaps I'll just make a comment.

Mr. Shugart, I want to congratulate you on 40 years of public service. That is absolutely exceptional.

In any capacity that I can, I want to offer an apology for the fact that you felt the need to inform this committee at the beginning that anything you said would obviously be the truth. I think that any honourable member would assume that of their top civil servant. I want it to be known that at least from the position that I'm sitting in.... The other people around this table will come and go, but it's the folks who run the operation, the folks who maintain the integrity of the system, such as you, who are the ones who truly keep our democratic system in place for generations to come, so thank you.

1:30 p.m.

Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office

Ian Shugart

I'll just say very briefly, if I could, Chair, that I take no offence from the earlier proceeding and I'm keenly aware that sometimes public servants come and go, as well. The first 10 years of my career—I should say, of my misspent youth—were on Parliament Hill, so I wasn't actually a public servant for the first decade of that time.

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rachael Harder

Thank you very much, Mr. Shugart.

We will move to Mr. Gourde for five minutes.