Evidence of meeting #50 for Finance in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cabinet.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. David Gagnon
Benoît Robidoux  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development
Marc Tassé  Senior Advisor, Canadian Centre of Excellence for Anti-Corruption, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

3:55 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

After the call on the 18th, I guess I was still in contact with Ms. Wernick and Ms. Kovacevic until the 22nd. We had to work out the announcement, so I was in contact with them. I couldn't tell you how many times, but—

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

So you had some discussions or communications with them about Ms. Wernick's communications with Mr. Kielburger on April 19.

4 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

Yes, I think she sent a final proposal to Finance for the volunteering and the service opportunities on the 19th, which included the “I Want to Help” platform, some tuition rewards, potentially and—

August 12th, 2020 / 4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

So you drafted a final—

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll give you time, Mr. Cooper. Let him finish.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Sure.

4 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

As I was saying, Rachel sent an email to Finance after talking to and consulting with me about the last proposal before the announcement on the volunteering and service opportunities. We talked before that because she had had a discussion with Craig Kielburger on the 19th, and she wanted to talk to me about it. We talked about the discussion they had. Then she finalized that proposal and sent it to Finance. That was the last real discussion we had on the—

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Cooper, you have a final question.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Okay, since I only have one final question, just to clarify, you did say you communicated on with someone in Minister Qualtrough's office respecting WE at some point. Could you elaborate on that?

4 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

It was a discussion. I can't remember which proposal it was, but it may have been that one on April 19 that I just mentioned. I shared that with the minister's office for their information, so they were aware of—

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Who in the minister's office?

4 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

It was Nick....

I'm looking for a second name. The minister is going to help me here. I have a blank about the second name.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Are you saying that the minister is going to bail you out, Mr. Robidoux?

4 p.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Employment and Social Development

Benoît Robidoux

I'm just looking for a name. I don't know why. I talk to him often. We'll come back with the name.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Just to—

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

That's it, Mr. Cooper. We only get two minutes each.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

I realize the time, but I would just ask Mr. Robidoux if he could produce that particular communication and any surrounding, relevant communications.

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I expect it will be in the documentation that's now with the law clerk—

4 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

I assume so, but if it's not—

4 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

—and he will get us the name.

Ms. Koutrakis, you have two minutes, and then we're going to wrap it up.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Madam Minister, could you describe how your office assesses a third-party organization being considered to administer a government program?

4 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

From my political office or the department?

Which office are you referring to?

4 p.m.

Liberal

Annie Koutrakis Liberal Vimy, QC

Both offices.

4 p.m.

Liberal

Carla Qualtrough Liberal Delta, BC

Okay. Obviously I feel like this is a big question, but let me see.... If there's an idea of a possible program or solution to an identified issue, it goes through.... It's hard to describe. I apologize, but there are so many ways that things get started. The public service could propose something. We might at cabinet decide something, and the public service goes away and develops it further.

We've been delivering in three ways in this pandemic: directly to individuals, through provinces, and through third parties. Those have been our go-to ways of getting money to organizations and Canadians. Depending on the goal or objective of what we're trying to achieve, one of the three becomes the way we deliver it.

I personally have been obsessed with making sure that things are deliverable. We didn't have time for an idea that couldn't be delivered, so if someone came to me with a proposed solution that we couldn't deliver, it wasn't a proposed solution as far as I was concerned.

We really focused on whether we could do this through an existing system directly to people. Would it be better to partner with the provinces and give the money to them to deliver, or should we use a third party intermediary on the ground to deliver it? Is that the most efficient way, given what we want to achieve?

Really, that was the framing for me as we looked to address these really complicated issues that were coming at us fast and furious.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

This is your last very quick question, Annie.