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Evidence of meeting #47 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 million.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Daniel Jean  Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage
René Bouchard  Executive Director, Portfolio Affairs, Department of Canadian Heritage
Robert Hertzog  Director General, Financial Management Branch, Department of Canadian Heritage
Anne-Marie Robinson  President, Public Service Commission of Canada
Guy Giguère  Chairperson, Public Service Staffing Tribunal
Lisanne Lacroix  Registrar and Deputy Head, Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal
Casper Bloom  Chairperson, Public Service Labour Relations Board
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard

May 28th, 2012 / 4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to the witnesses for being with us this afternoon.

Earlier you said that our country compared well with the other G8 countries in arts and culture funding. Could you give us some examples of how it compares with the others and tell us to what extent it does so?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

I do not have those figures to hand, Mr. Gourde, but I will be pleased to provide them to you.

It often occurs that counterparts from various countries come and visit us and we meet with them. Based on our demographics—we are talking about 30 million inhabitants—our arts and culture investments are very significant on a per capita basis. As I said earlier, Canada was one of the only industrialized countries that did not cut its arts and culture investments despite the crisis.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Were other countries harder hit?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

Funding for the arts was significantly hit in Great Britain and the United States. I believe the minister will address some of those aspects tomorrow in his address to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

All right.

Is the government maintaining funding for the Canada Council for the Arts?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

Yes, it is being maintained.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

In the main estimates 2012-2013, we note a net increase of $137.3 million relative to 2011-2012. Could you give us more details on that increase?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

As I told you, the fact that funding from the media fund, which was granted every year on a temporary basis, is now permanent—we are talking about $100 million here—is an important factor. There is also the sum of $29 million allocated to aboriginal people and $15 million for periodicals. These are important milestones. As you know, the funding allocated to the media fund, to funding for aboriginal people and the periodical fund was made permanent in Budget 2011 last year.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

That's very good news.

Could you give us some details on the $4.8-million increase that appears in the main estimates and is intended for Library and Archives Canada?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

Yes. I believe that is related to storage capacity. René will tell you about that.

4:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Portfolio Affairs, Department of Canadian Heritage

René Bouchard

That is exactly correct. We are talking about an amount of $9 million earmarked to improve storage capacity at the Gatineau site.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

We also see that the main estimates show a $4.6-million increase relative to last year for the Canadian Museum of Nature. Is there an explanation for that?

4:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

That increase concerns the museum's operating budget. I believe that those people were building a new wing, which is now operational, and that this concerns operating expenses for that wing.

Is that correct, René?

4:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Portfolio Affairs, Department of Canadian Heritage

René Bouchard

Yes, it is for operations and infrastructure.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Thank you very much.

I have finished, Mr. Chair.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you, Mr. Gourde.

There is a moment left, so I'm going to take the chair's prerogative and make one point of clarification and ask one brief question.

First, Mr. Deputy Minister, far from being a circus, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in my riding of Winnipeg is a magnificent architectural triumph, and it's second to none in terms of the design, the skill, and the craftsmanship that have gone into it. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be to Winnipeg what the Sydney Opera House is to that city. It's an iconic addition to the landscape that we're very proud of.

Let me preface this by saying that there's been more private fundraising for that museum than for all other museums in the country combined in their total histories—$130 million in private fundraising. In contrast, the Museum of Nature in downtown Ottawa had a 100% cost overrun and not one penny of private fundraising. The federal government cut them a cheque and they're increasing their budget this time.

Why are you cutting $21 million out of the budget of our Canadian Museum for Human Rights when we have passed the hat and shaken every bush in the country to raise private money, and when you're giving more money to the Canadian Museum of Nature when they haven't lifted a finger to help themselves? It's a $21 million cut. We're already digging out of the program budget to finish the capital project because of an 8% cost overrun. You had a 100% cost overrun in the Museum of Nature and you didn't bat an eye to make them whole. How do you explain that?

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

Mr. Chair, first of all, I have had the chance to visit the museum during the construction, and I would echo what you've said. The location itself and the look of it are fantastic.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Why do you call it a circus?

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

On your second point, I would say that we're talking about a funding profile. The reason the funding was higher is that construction was at full steam, and the $100 million contribution of the Government of Canada was going in large installments.

Now we've reached our $100 million contribution for construction. The museum is not open yet, so we've allowed a reallocation of $10 million of their operating budget to this year to provide them with more flexibility.

We are definitely committed to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. You are correct, as well, Mr. Chair, that this is the museum that has raised the most private money.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you.

We'll go to Linda Duncan for five minutes.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to follow up on the questions of Mr. McCallum.

The government, in its wisdom, made the decision to spend multi-millions of dollars on the War of 1812. Obviously, to do that, given the fact that the government is trying to pay down its massive deficit, there appear to be cuts across the board to a lot of programs that previously received support, including for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Youth Take Charge program, which is being cut by $300,000.

Was there a direction to you that we find money to supplement this program? Where's the direction to the department on where to seek the costs? What is less important now to the government?

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

First, I'll make a point of clarification. The fact that numbers go up and down through estimates does not necessarily mean that there has been a cut. It can be just a variation in when funding happens. That's the case for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as I explained in the previous question.

In this case, this is purely a funding profile. This is not a cut. It's the same thing in terms of the other one you mentioned. There is no cut there. This is a funding profile.

Now, on the issue of the War of 1812, this is one-time funding over a few years. It's not up to me to explain choices. I think, as I said to Mr. McCallum, that this is a question that is better addressed to the minister,

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Oh, I'm not asking you, sir, to defend the decision to fund the War of 1812 events. My question is simply whether, because you had to find money for the War of 1812, there are cuts to other programs that historically you have supported.

4:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage

Daniel Jean

No, the money we are spending on the War of 1812 came through Budget 2011. I think it was the year before. It came from a previous budget.

This is not money that has been reallocated. Now, when we do commemorations like this one, yes, sometimes we try to leverage some of our existing programs. But the $28 million I referred to is money received through the budget.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

I thought there was an additional allocation. I'm looking at the materials you tabled in the House.

I too share the concern about Library and Archives, particularly on the $11 million cut to documentation of the Canadian experience. Even if this were a temporary cut, until the deficit is paid off, there's a whole time period during which information will not be gathered and recorded.

I have regularly contributed to the archives, and for over four years I have turned to the archives for information. I've had a lot of letters from constituents and from people across the country who are deeply concerned about the cuts to Library and Archives and to the libraries in the departments. That, of course, is not your responsibility.

Could you tell us if the intention is, over time, to keep cutting Library and Archives? Is this a one-time-only cut, or should we anticipate that there will be further cuts to the programs and staffing?