Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm delighted to be here today before your committee to discuss the supplementary estimates.
I have with me today from the Treasury Board Secretariat, Yaprak Baltacioglu, secretary of the Treasury Board Secretariat; Brian Pagan, assistant secretary, expenditure management sector; Marcia Santiago, executive director, expenditure management; and Grace Chennette, executive director, financial management directorate.
In supplementary estimates (C) 2016-17, the government is seeking Parliament's approval of funding to address matters of importance to Canadians.
These include funds for humanitarian assistance, border security, climate change, and veterans and their families. Specifically, the government is seeking parliamentary approval for $2.5 billion in additional investments in 47 organizations.
Included in this amount are 11 major items valued at more than $50 million.
There are also nine horizontal initiatives in which departments are seeking funding approval to work in partnership on shared outcomes, for instance, in addressing the crisis in Iraq and Syria.
Among these requests, I would note $545 million in Treasury Board vote 30 for the Treasury Board Secretariat to fund adjustments to the terms and conditions of employment to plan for the ratification of collective agreements with the Public Service; $350 million for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for the transfer of 19 federal dams to the Government of Saskatchewan, as announced in budget 2016; $178 million for Employment and Social Development Canada to write off unrecoverable Canada student loans; $174 million for Global Affairs Canada for humanitarian assistance and antimicrobial resistance initiatives; $133 million for Global Affairs Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to help developing countries address the impact of climate change; $132 million for Veterans Affairs Canada for programs and services to support veterans and their families; and a combined total of $118 million to Canada Border Services Agency to maintain the integrity of Canada's border operations.
These supplementary estimates represent an increase of 2.8% in voted appropriations over the the main estimates tabled in February 2016.
As you know, the estimates documents also include updated forecasts of statutory authorities authorized by Parliament through separate legislation. Supplementary estimates (C) include a $964-million net decrease in the statutory forecast, mainly related to reduced interest charges on public debt.
There is also a decrease of $431 million in loans to students and apprentices, because this financial assistance is now being offered as grants. This 50% increase in the Canada student grants program was announced in budget 2016, and it will benefit nearly 100,000 students from middle-income families every year.
While the government is asking for $2.5 billion to be voted in these estimates, the supplementary estimates (C) also include an online annex. This annex details close to $3 billion in frozen allotments that will no longer be available to departments for spending. During the fiscal year, the government can adjust the funds available to departments in accordance with evolving program developments and priorities. In this way, the Treasury Board authorizes that funding be frozen so it is not available to spend on anything else.
At the end of the fiscal year, these frozen allotments are included in the lapse shown in public accounts. Last year, we introduced this annex to provide greater transparency and accountability. This was actually noted by the PBO. Without this, the first time that frozen allotments would be shown would be in the public accounts, seven or eight months after the end of the fiscal year. Because of our change, parliamentarians and Canadians are now able to see this information much sooner.
Another measure we took to make the government more open and transparent and accountable was the new review process to ensure that advertising is non-partisan. Advertising Standards Canada, a national non-for-profit organization committed to ensuring the integrity of advertising, now conducts independent reviews of our ads. As a result, Canadians know that the information they receive from their government represents a legitimate public service announcement.
We have followed through on our budget 2016 commitment to reduce spending on government advertising, travel, and professional services. I'm pleased to say that we have fulfilled our commitment to reduce these expenditures by over $200 million.
Mr. Chair, before concluding I'll provide the committee with a brief overview of the requirements of the Treasury Board Secretariat presented in these supplementary estimates (C).
The department is seeking Parliament's approval to spend an additional $722.7 million. This includes a combined total of $716.8 million in the central votes managed by the secretariat on behalf of the government for Government of Canada obligations that exist across departments and agencies. Specifically these obligations relate to terms and conditions of employment, compensation adjustments with respect to collective bargaining, and even such things as parental leave, as an example of one of these. While these affect individual departments, ultimately Treasury Board is engaged in this.
As you know, our commitment to respecting the public service and bargaining in good faith with them has yielded agreements, as of now, with more than 80% of represented public servants. At the time we were elected, all of the collective bargaining agreements had expired, some of them for three or four years almost, and we committed to restoring a culture of respect for and within our public service. Part of that was negotiating in good faith, and we are making significant progress.
The majority of the funding related to collective agreements in supplementary estimates (C) had been set aside by departments during previous years in which the previous government had been unable to reach agreements. It is now being made available as agreements become ratified.
In addition to these central funds, we are seeking $5.9 million in TBS vote 1, program expenditures, for items such as improving access to information, funding the back office transformation initiative, advancing the service agenda, and transferring the office of greening government operations to Treasury Board Secretariat, which is something we are very excited about.
I want to also commend the parliamentary secretary to Treasury Board, Joyce Murray, who is with us today. She has demonstrated tremendous leadership in establishing our office of greening government in Treasury Board. This is going to make a real difference. We're targeting a reduction by 40% of greenhouse gas emissions for the Government of Canada.
This is a significant commitment, but it's going to make a big difference in terms of our leadership as a government with respect to climate change. Last November, when we set the target of reducing emissions by 40% by 2030, we were serious about it, and that's why we're establishing metrics and measuring results, so that Canadians can actually hold us to account. Putting this centre within the Treasury Board Secretariat is really helpful to driving this across departments and agencies.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation on the main points in supplementary estimates (C).
Finally, Mr. Chair, I look forward to continuing our discussions on how to improve the estimates process. We've had discussions in good faith among all parties, and we share the view that the current system is confusing, frustrating, illogical, dysfunctional, and opaque. I remain committed, and I look forward to working with you and parliamentarians as we move forward, to improving the system in order to provide better, more timely, more useful information to parliamentarians and better accountability for our government and future governments to Parliament and to Canadians.
At this point my officials and I would be pleased to take your questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.