Evidence of meeting #86 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was phoenix.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Marie Lemay  Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Ron Parker  President, Shared Services Canada
Les Linklater  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Lisa Campbell  Assistant Deputy Minister, Marine and Defence Procurement, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Marty Muldoon  Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Administration Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services
John Glowacki Jr.  Chief Operating Officer, Shared Services Canada

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

It was a couple of weeks ago.

9:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

We just process their retroactivity, and that part is going well.

I'm not trying to say there are no issues in the system. The issues are still there. The dial moves. If we look at people with no pay, that has gone down quite a bit.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

What you're saying is that it's not getting worse.

9:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

I'm saying you have to be qualitative in terms of all of that. No, it's not getting worse. We have reached a place where we have been able to stabilize the queue. We have the initial backlog brought down almost to the end. We've reached a stasis state on two categories. We're looking now at how we're going to organize ourselves to face collective bargaining. That's a huge issue. It has been made very clear this is a commitment we cannot miss. I'm not trying to minimize it. It is a complex problem.

9:15 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

I appreciate that, and I accept that you're not trying to minimize it. You have to understand that from step one, this whole Phoenix got away from us because of the government's refusal to accept that there was an issue. We heard originally from Minister Foote that it was a great success, then it was only 500 issues and not a big deal. We sat, I think, in this very room in June and talked about T4s being an issue, and we were told not to worry, that it wasn't going to be an issue and that they had a plan. The T4s blew up. It seems that every step of the way there's been a denial of how big this problem is.

9:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Thank you.

Mr. Christopherson, welcome to the committee.

9:15 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair. It's a pleasure to be here.

Phoenix, what a shemozzle, eh? Listen, I'd like to turn to page 39 in the departmental plan. At the very bottom of the page it says, “The Department will also continue to ensure that pension transactions are processed within established timeframes”.

If we flip over to page 41 and look at the middle of the page in the chart, under performance indicators it says, “Percentage of pension transactions processed within established timeframes”. We just read that you were going to continue to process them within established timelines, but your target is only 95%.

Also, when we look back to 2013-14, it was 100%. In 2014-15, it dropped to 98.3%, and last year it dropped to 97.8%, and now your ambitious target is to drop it to 95%. Please explain.

9:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

I would say that we learned. I think that's the reality, and 95% is what the target can and should be. There are always complex cases, and we have to take the proper time to do this. Sometimes it will take a little bit more than the 20 days allocated to them.

We need to do this right, so the rigorous approach, we believe is the 95...but I thank you for raising that question, because with the pension, one thing we never talked about is that over the summer as this was all going on—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Sorry, that's not my question. I have limited time. I apologize, but that's not my issue. That wasn't much of an answer. I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it. You went from 100%, to 98%, to 97%. You tell us that you have an aggressive plan to fix these things, but your target is only 95% when just a while ago we were at 100%.

Then in your statement—and this is where the disconnect is—you say that the department will also continue to ensure that pension transactions are processed within established timelines, and then you turn around in the documents and the data says your target is only 95%. That, at best, is a 2.75% increase. That's barely inflation.

Let's move to another one in the same area, page 39. “Having finalized this multi-year project, PSPC will embrace further innovation with a view to increase program efficiency and effectiveness”. Wow.

Then we take a look at page 41, again under performance indicators, “Cost per account (GC-wide) to administer the Public Service Pension Plan (PSSA)”. In 2013-14 it was $155.12, then it went up to $165.32, then to $165.50, and now it's going to $178. Yet you just finished saying in the language that you were going to embrace all this innovation and all this increased efficiency. Where the heck is it?

Look at the next one: cost per account to administer the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. You took over the issue. The first stats we have is 2015-16 at $135.78 per. The government took it over from the RCMP, and now you're projecting it's $156.

Tell me, where's your efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation there?

9:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

First, on the target, I would like to say that we'd rather set a target that we know we can meet. If it's 100%, we put 100%, and we know, because of the stream, we can, so that's on target.

In terms of efficiency, you're making me think that we should now also start reporting on quality of service and service standards, because that has an impact, too. It's a very good point that we're going to include so that we can balance the message.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I didn't hear an answer. I asked you to justify, stating that “Having finalized this multi-year project, PSPC will embrace further innovation with a view to increase program efficiency and effectiveness”.

That's what you said. Words matter. This is a report. When we look at the data, we see that you're going in the other direction. It's less efficient and costing more money.

Explain.

9:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

This is for the coming year. As I was about to say earlier, we have added some accounts to the pension program this year. Actually, we're pretty proud of the way it happened, because we did manage to get back to the service standard, but we have to have a transition period and transition costs, so we are embracing the technology to reduce—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I'm sorry, deputy, are you kidding me? We get better answers in the House.

Let's move on.

Let's move on to page 46, “Percentage of documents translated and revised for Parliament within the deadline.” In 2013-14, it was 96.99%. In 2014-15, it went up to 97.45%; then in 2015-16, it dipped down a bit to 96.7%. Your target again is lower than this year's actual.

9:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

I was going to say that—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Don't just tell me that you can't do 100%, because that's not cutting it here.

9:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

We're comparing apples to oranges, I think, because it's the actuals and the targets. We're putting a target and we're actually—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I'm asking why your target is below what we had last year. You keep talking about all these ambitions in here—innovation, efficiency, momentum, and there's a lot happening—yet the documents and the data tell us you're going in the opposite direction.

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

The target would have also been 95% the year before and the year before that. It's a question of setting the target and then having the actuals.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Look at the one below, at the next one right underneath. I love this one, “Percentage of clients satisfied with services provided by the Translation Bureau.”

For some strange reason, and it would be interesting to know why, in 2013-14 there was no survey done. That's interesting. In 2014-15, it was 86%. Then it was 87.4% under “Actual Results”, and again, your target is 85%, less than the result you had last year. This is in terms of what you hope people's attitudes are.

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

That's exactly what it is. The target would have been 85%, and we report on actuals, so the target is 85%, the actual is.... We're not comparing the same thing.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Mr. Christopherson, you've run out of time.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

That's a shame because I was having a lot of fun.

Thank you very much, Chair.

Deputy, thanks for your answers.

9:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

Yes, you were having a lot of fun.

We now go to Madam Shanahan for seven minutes.

May 11th, 2017 / 9:25 a.m.

Liberal

Brenda Shanahan Liberal Châteauguay—Lacolle, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I also have the pleasure of serving on the public accounts committee with Mr. Christopherson, and I think we want to be looking at the Auditor General's report. I'm looking forward to that, on the whole Phoenix situation, later on this year. That would, I think, shed some light on a lot of these issues.

For now, I'd like to turn my attention to the procurement of goods and services for our men and women in uniform. According to page 17 of the 2017-18 departmental plan, the department, Public Works, talks about working closely with the Department of National Defence and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to support the due diligence activities required for an open and transparent competition to replace CF-18 fighter aircraft.

I know that jet procurement is an unconventional purchase. Can we count on the industrial benefits, the economic growth, and the job creation that should go along with that, according to the Defence Production Act?

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Public Works and Government Services

Marie Lemay

I will tell you one thing before I let my colleagues fill in. This is an absolutely important element that has been raised by the ministers. It is something that we have to do, so I will turn it over to my colleague to tell you how we're going to do that.