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Evidence of meeting #18 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was billion.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michelle d'Auray  Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat
Bill Matthews  Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat
Christine Walker  Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Services, Treasury Board Secretariat
Sally Thornton  Executive Director, Expenditure Operations and Estimates, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

The results of this process will be in the 2012 budget, of course. That is the appropriate place to disclose the results of the process. I have told the public and the journalists that the process is underway.

We're on track, but no final decisions have been made.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Have you already received interim reports, areas they have already studied, have evaluations already been completed? Do you have that kind of information?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

No, that is part of the budget preparation process. The Minister of Finance, the other ministers, members, and myself, as minister and President of the Treasury Board, will be organizing round tables with the public and setting up a process to obtain suggestions. That has worked in the past and it may also work in this case, but the outcome of these processes will be in the 2012 budget.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

So we will see it in the 2012 budget.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Yes.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

If economic conditions were to deteriorate, something no one at this table hopes happens, might your targets change?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

The Minister of Finance decided and announced that he was making changes to the employment insurance scheme, as well as other changes relating to some of our government's programs, because the situation has deteriorated in Europe and America.

I can also say that it is important to have targets for budget cuts.

I would say this to you, sir. We obviously understand that we are living in a world where there are some massive economic changes occurring right now in the eurozone, the United States, and elsewhere. But if you look at where the problems are arising, they're in countries that do not have plans to get back to balance because then all of their other plans for jobs, growth, and being low-tax jurisdictions that can generate innovation go down the drain.

To me it remains important, despite the economic conditions and because of the economic conditions, to continue with our plans to find savings where they merit action. That's certainly our continued commitment.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Denis, you're well over time. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Minister.

Scott Armstrong.

November 24th, 2011 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you.

Thank you, Minister, for being here.

My first question is on one of the statutory items and major increases in the total transfer protection that came about on June 6 as part of Bill C-3. It involves total transfer projection payments that were first announced in December and the equalization-receiving provinces. It amounts to about $952.1 million.

Can you explain how this has come into effect and why we've put that in there?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Bill has the numbers right here in front of him, so I'm going to leave it to him, if you don't mind.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Perfect.

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bill Matthews

I just have a couple of points of clarification, Mr. Chair.

Statutory items are in the estimates for information purposes only and are not part of the appropriation bill that will be voted on.

Normally, the main estimates would have the statutory items, and you'd see an update in the supplementary estimates for any revised forecasts.

What you'll see in supplementary estimates (B) that is related to this is a bit of a large amount, simply because when we did the main estimates it was not yet clear how the calculation was going to be applied for some provinces. We didn't have a good amount to actually put in for an estimate. We now have a good number.

The Department of Finance keeps its website fairly up to date in terms of forecast for transfer payments. You're seeing it in here, not because it's new since supplementary estimates (A) but because now is the time when we've actually got a good estimate of the number.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Okay, thank you.

The second one is somewhat to that and it's probably the same situation. It has to do with the transitional payment to Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Additional Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments Act (2005). At about $536.1 million, it's another significant amount.

My guess is because Newfoundland and Labrador is now a “have” province, this is to help ease the burden of the loss of equalization payments? Is that the...?

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bill Matthews

The Province of Newfoundland, Mr. Chair, has a choice as to how it elects to calculate that formula. So, again, we're waiting for them to make their choice on how the formula would be exercised, and that's why you're seeing it here.

I should say I actually mixed the two up. I thought your first question was on Newfoundland.

In answer to your first question, the reason we are showing up in supplementary estimates (B) for the first time is that we had to wait for the Budget Implementation Act to pass to get the authority to put that in there. My apologies for mixing up those two.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

No problem, it's very complicated. I'm having trouble getting my head around it myself.

The other question is for the minister. HRSDC is requesting $11.8 million for the targeted initiative for older workers, which supports older workers in communities that are suffering great losses in jobs. We've got a couple of communities in Nova Scotia right now that are going through tremendous problems.

Can you explain how that program works and how it's shared between the provinces and territories and the federal government?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Sure.

I hope you don't mind because I'm still in my sixth or seventh month at Treasury Board, but I'm going to rely on my colleagues here who have a wealth of experience on some of these matters.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

The officials are fine.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

They can dig into the details. I do rely on Mr. Matthews or Madame d'Auray—and Ms. Walker has joined us. Welcome.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

It's the TIOW, the targeted initiative for older workers.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Yes, go right ahead.

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bill Matthews

I was referring to my notes for a second.

In terms of Budget 2011 funding, it's $25 million per year for two years to build upon the Budget 2009 funding. The $11.8 that we requested in these supplementary estimates is a re-profile from 2010-11 to 2011-12 to accommodate some project delays. I don't have a good answer for you in terms of how this split actually works between provinces. I apologize.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Perhaps we can get that information for you.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

That'd be great if you could get that to me.

The program, however, is a combination of the provincial, territorial, and federal governments. It's a joint program of sorts that's been put in place, I think, just from reading the details.

4:15 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bill Matthews

It is in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, yes.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Thank you very much.