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Evidence of meeting #60 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was ppp.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Martine Lajoie  Chief, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance
Maxime Beaupré  Senior Economist, Sectoral Policy Analysis, Transport and Corporate Analysis, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance
Daniel Macdonald  Chief, Federal-Provincial Relations Division, CHT/CST and Northern Policy, Department of Finance
Nicholas S. Wise  Excutive Director, Strategic Policy, Priorities and Planning, Treasury Board Secretariat
Christiane Allard  Advisor, Strategic Policy, Priorities and Planning, Treasury Board Secretariat
Sue Foster  Director General, Policy, Quality and Appeals Directorate, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Peter Edwards  Acting Corporate Secretary, Corporate Secretariat, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Peter Boyd  Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development
Margaret Strysio  Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency
Jonah Mitchell  Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency
Stephen Bolton  Director, Border Law Enforcement Strategies Division, Public Safety Canada
Superintendent Joe Oliver  Director General, Border Integrity, Federal and International Operations, Department of Public Safety

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Okay. I appreciate that. That's helpful.

Are there any other members with questions?

Go ahead, Mr. Brison.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

How does the whole emerging issue of identity theft affect this decision to establish a registry then? I guess the expectation would have been that we were already doing this. People would have thought that we were already doing this. How does the issue of identity theft inform the decision to make these changes?

11:40 a.m.

Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Peter Boyd

Sorry, what would people have thought we were already doing?

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

To what extent does the issue of identity theft help inform the decision to make these changes?

11:40 a.m.

Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Peter Boyd

It's one of a variety of considerations that we've taken into account. It is an initiative that's been discussed in the department for quite some time. More and more we recognize that the physical card is not required in order for us to do our business or for other government departments to do their business. So phasing it out, in that context, makes a lot of sense.

Identity theft is also a consideration. It's not the only one. But a department such as HRSDC is very attuned to the privacy of personal information, as my colleagues were just saying about the changes to the privacy framework for the department. Safeguarding that personal information is a prime concern. Anything we can do to reduce the opportunities for identity theft, the better. This is one of the reasons we encourage people not to use the card inappropriately. The more widely the number becomes available, the more likely that someone will be able to take advantage of it.

When you issue a card, people come to rely on it as a piece of identification, a document. We do not encourage the use of the card as an identity document. It has no security features on it—no picture of the holder, no fingerprint, no retinal scan.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Is the change informed by a recognition of what's happening with smart phones, and in commerce? People in some countries now are not carrying credit cards or bank cards. Is that part of the process? We're de-carding, in general, and moving toward a digital format, whether it's commercially or for identification. Is that informing part of this?

11:40 a.m.

Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Peter Boyd

It's certainly part of the context in which the decision was made. I wouldn't say it was a direct factor. But we are modernizing the way we deliver services. As we do that, we recognize that more and more of these transactions will be done online, electronically, using a smart phone, using a home computer. That reinforces our assessment that the physical card is not something that is required in order for us to deliver our services effectively and efficiently.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

What about the $1,000 fine and the potential of imprisonment for a term of not more than one year? What was the rationale for the $1,000 penalty? Why $1,000?

11:45 a.m.

Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Peter Boyd

That number was already in the act, so it is not a new provision. I don't know if a specific methodology was used to develop it. But they wanted to have something in the act to discourage inappropriate use and creation of cards. Recently, it was also added to the Criminal Code, making the creation and the collection of things such as a social insurance card a criminal offence.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you, Mr. Brison.

Mr. Boyd, I want to thank you for being with us here today and giving us an overview of this division of the bill.

11:45 a.m.

Director General and Departmental Security Officer, Integrity Services Branch - Internal Integrity and Security, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development

Peter Boyd

My pleasure. Thank you very much.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you.

We will now call forward officials from Parks Canada to discuss division 9.

I want to welcome you to the committee and encourage you to provide, if you can, an overview of the division for members. Then we'll proceed to questions from members.

11:45 a.m.

Margaret Strysio Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency

Good morning. My name is Margaret Strysio, and I'm responsible for strategic planning and reporting at Parks Canada. I'm joined this morning by Jonah Mitchell, who is responsible for law enforcement.

Division 9 of the bill proposes changes in two areas for Parks Canada. The first relates to collaboration on environmental enforcement activities, and this is covered by clauses 315, 316, 322, and 323. Mr. Mitchell will take the committee through those clauses, and then I'll speak to the remaining clauses that deal with the streamlining of planning and reporting.

May 17th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Jonah Mitchell Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency

For context, the enforcement activity of park wardens is limited to the agency mandate for national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas.

Clause 315 would allow for park wardens to assist other ministers to enforce their acts and regulations outside of parks and sites with the following constraints: the act or regulation must relate to the environment; the act or regulation must be listed in the schedule to the Parks Canada Agency Act; the location of the enforcement activity must be such that it is more convenient and efficient for park wardens to respond than other federal enforcement officers; there must be an agreement to provide these enforcement activities on behalf of the other minister; and park wardens must be designated and trained to enforce the other act.

Essentially the intent of the change is to allow for a faster and lower-cost response to environmental enforcement incidents, particularly in remote areas in the north where Environment Canada does not have an ongoing presence, but Parks Canada has a park warden nearby who could act on its behalf.

Clause 316 allows the Governor in Council to add acts and regulations to the schedule of the Parks Canada Agency Act for which park wardens could assist other bodies in enforcement activities.

Finally, clauses 322 and 323 restructure the schedules of the act to add part 3 and part 4 for the listing of the associated regulations.

11:45 a.m.

Director, Strategic Planning and Reporting, Parks Canada Agency

Margaret Strysio

I'll deal first with clause 320, because clause 317 is consequential to it.

Clause 320 removes the requirement for Parks Canada Agency to prepare a corporate plan and annual report by repealing sections 33 and 34 of the Parks Canada Agency Act. As a consequence, clause 317 would remove the reference to the corporate plan in subsection 21(3).

These documents duplicate the information in the report on plans and priorities and the departmental performance report that Parks Canada must produce each year because of where it is placed on the schedule under the FAA. We will continue to do the departmental performance report and the report on plans and priorities each year, but the duplicated report will be removed.

Moving to clause 318, this amendment would extend the timeline for the preparation and tabling of a report on the overall state of our parks and sites from every two years to every five years. Changes to the overall state of our parks and sites, things like ecological integrity, commemorative integrity, take longer than two years in which to see an appreciable change. A five-year timeframe is much more appropriate and will allow for a more meaningful report and more analysis in terms of trends, etc.

Clause 319 would extend the timeline for the review and tabling of management plans for each national historic site from five years to at least every 10 years. Management plans are long-term strategic plans with a 10-year to 15-year time horizon. They set out the vision, key strategies, and long-term objectives for the place related, for example, to natural resource management, cultural resource management, visitation, and stakeholder relations. Ten years is a more appropriate timeframe and will allow us to focus on implementing the plan over that time, to work with our stakeholders in implementing the plan, and move towards those long-term strategic targets we've set out in the management plan.

This changed timeframe is reflected through an amendment to the Parks Canada Agency Act for historic sites.

Clause 324 includes the same changed timeframe for management plans in the Canada National Parks Act for national parks. Clause 325 makes the same change to the Canada National Marine Conservations Area Act for marine conservation areas.

Finally, clause 321 removes the requirement for an annual audit of Parks Canada financial statements and an annual review of its performance information in its annual report. This would be through repealing section 36 of the Parks Canada Agency Act. We would continue to report on our performance annually through the departmental performance report, and our financial statements would continue to be completed and made public via a link to the departmental performance report. There would no longer be the Auditor General's audit of the financial statements.

This item was already raised in division 1 of part 4 of the bill. A number of organizations are having the same types of changes made by the Office of the Auditor General, and I think that was discussed last night.

Thank you.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Rajotte

Thank you very much for your opening remarks.

We'll begin with M. Mai, s'il vous plaît.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to thank the witnesses for being with us today.

I and many others consider Parks Canada to be very important. It's part of our country, it represents the most important part of our heritage. Do the changes indicated here affect park hours of operation or access? From what I gather, park wardens will have to perform other duties, be it for Environment Canada or another institution. Will park access be affected?

11:50 a.m.

Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency

Jonah Mitchell

Do you mean an impact in terms of the workload in particular?

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

I am referring more to access by the general public, those who want to visit the parks. If the warden has to work on something else for Environment Canada, does that mean people won't have access to the park?

11:50 a.m.

Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency

Jonah Mitchell

No, it will not have an impact on the opening season or the seasons of our parks. This is solely for enforcement-related activities.

A good example would be in the Gaspé Peninsula, where there are a couple of migratory bird sanctuaries,

especially Rocher-Percé and Île-Bonaventure,

and Environment Canada's enforcement officers respond to those locations from Quebec City. We have a small number of park wardens who do enforcement in Forillon National Park. It is much closer in terms of travel distance for our wardens to have authorities to respond to enforcement incidents in those migratory bird sanctuaries on behalf of Environment Canada. That's probably the best example.

This doesn't have an impact on other parts of Parks Canada's operations, like the visitor services, the campgrounds, the—

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

So it has no impact on the hours of operation.

11:50 a.m.

Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Are the budget cuts the reason that Parks Canada staff have to replace or help Environment Canada's employees? A number of Environment Canada jobs were cut, as you know. Are the two situations related?

11:55 a.m.

Assistant Director, Parks Canada Agency

Jonah Mitchell

The intent is not to have any impact on the operations of Environment Canada, to my knowledge. This is only to provide for more efficient response times to enforcement incidents.

In terms of impacts on Environment Canada's operations, this was seen as a reduction in terms of costs that were associated with travel for Environment Canada.