Evidence of meeting #3 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was loans.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jean-Yves Duclos  President of the Treasury Board
Glenn Purves  Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat
Karen Cahill  Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Marcia Santiago  Executive Director, Expenditure Strategies and Estimates, Treasury Board Secretariat
Baxter Williams  Executive Director, Employment Conditions and Labour Relations, Treasury Board Secretariat

9:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

Thank you, Minister.

I realize time is precious.

Madam Vignola, go ahead, please, for six minutes.

9:10 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Good morning, Mr. Duclos.

Thank you for joining us.

I am new to this committee. If I have understood correctly, normally, vote 10 is an amount used horizontally, so it can be distributed across multiple departments. As far as I can see, that vote seems to focus on one department in particular. What is the explanation for that?

9:15 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

As you said so well, Mrs. Vignola, this vote is part of central votes. Vote 10 enables various agencies, including the Canada Revenue Agency, to work with other agencies or other departments to generate in the most effective and transparent ways possible initiatives whose costs are distributed among a number of government organizations. That vote has existed for a very long time, and it is used as transparently and as effectively as possible. You have not only the right, but also the responsibility, to request and obtain all information on the use of that funding.

That said, as is the case for many other federal initiatives and votes, those amounts evolve over the years based on the government's and Canadians' priorities. The evolution, as with any investment or expenditure, is rarely linear. It follows the priorities and needs of the government and Canadians.

9:15 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

That's fine, but you have not quite answered my question.

Why is that vote now focused on one department in particular instead of being distributed among the others?

9:15 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

I can yield the floor to Mr. Purves, who knows much more about this than I do.

It is incorrect to say that vote 10 will focus on a single agency from now on. Since the Confederation—so for 153 years—that vote has been used for a number of purposes that have varied over the years and will continue to vary, as it is the Canadian government's responsibility to adapt to Canadians' priorities.

Mr. Purves, if you would like to elaborate further on what I just said, I yield the floor to you.

9:15 a.m.

Glenn Purves Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Thank you.

Thank you for this question, Mrs. Vignola.

As the president mentioned, the vote has existed in the tool kit for many years as an essential vote to provide for government-wide initiatives.

It all depends on which initiatives are coming forward. If you look at what's been supported, it's indigenous, early learning and child care. In this case, there are application modernization initiatives that Mr. McCauley mentioned. There's support for Phoenix damages that have been identified. These are instances in which Treasury Board authority is given for supporting the initiative, but we don't know exactly which vote it's going to end up in because a lot of times it's demand-driven. A lot of times there's a payment, or a partial payment, that's required before the next appropriation act is set out.

Transparency is provided, just as for any other initiative, so that parliamentarians can ask the questions they wish to in order to get more information. As items are allocated from that vote, it is reported online as we table the next estimates document. In this case Mr. McCauley mentioned, I think, $3 million to $4 million for the application modernization initiative.

The other thing to point out on that question is that there are many departments involved in that initiative. When authorities are provided for new funding, they're given to those departments, irrespective of a point in time where they are in a certain lapse forecast. Lapse forecasts change all the time, so it would be inappropriate for a government, or a parliament, to keep approving funds with inappropriate information on what the financial situation of a government is.

We have “The Fiscal Monitor” that provides information on an ongoing basis. We have loads of financial reporting that provides this information, so it is simply one of many departments in that initiative.

9:20 a.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

When we vote on vote 10, we are voting on a line of credit over which we no longer have any oversight based on emergencies that may occur—for just over $3 million. Did I understand correctly?

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

The central vote framework is government-wide, as in the case of vote 10, but it is sometimes based on the need to respond quickly to crises or to financial requests that cannot be predicted from the outset.

That is important. We see what is currently happening with coronavirus. It is important for the Canadian government to have transparent and effective resources to respond to Canadians' emergencies.

These central votes are there to ensure that Canadians are supported in case of emergencies or crises. Sometimes, the response to those emergencies or crises requires government-wide coordination, and that is what those votes are for.

9:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

I'm afraid I'm going to have to interrupt you, Minister.

Once again I apologize, but we do have to try to make sure that all parliamentarians have adequate and equal time for questions.

Mr. Green, you're up for six minutes.

February 27th, 2020 / 9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I'll work through this, hopefully, expeditiously, Mr. Chair.

Minister, you have referenced in your mandate letter the implementation of the recently passed Pay Equity Act for the public service.

When can our public service sector workers expect to be paid out, and how far back retroactively will they be paid?

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

This is an excellent question, which you will also want to take up with the Minister of Employment who would be most happy to provide the details that you are entitled to receive.

We are very proud of this law, which was passed in 2018. We know that a fair Canada—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Just to be clear through you, Mr. Chair, am I to expect the answer from the other minister or...? I do have two or three more questions, and I just want to make sure I—

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

I can provide you with the broad guidance given the short time, but if you're interested in the important details, then I would expect that you would also be in touch with my colleague.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Okay.

Your mandate letter talks about accelerating and building on the progress you've made with first nations.

I understand that there are still many first nations land claims that have been settled but not yet paid out. My question, through you, Mr. Chair, to the hon. minister, is how many land claims are there in line that have been settled but not yet paid out? When can those first nations band councils expect to be compensated and made whole on those agreements?

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

As we know, the process of reconciliation is key, not only for the short term well-being of indigenous Canadians and all Canadians, but also for the longer-term success of our country. This involves, as you correctly say, the negotiation and the signing of modern treaties to make sure that indigenous rights are not only recognized but also are implemented—

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Could I—

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

—and that's a process that's going to take a long time.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

These have already been settled. Through you, Mr. Chair, respectfully, if these have been settled, I would anticipate that there would be an answer as to when the first nations communities that have signed these modern treaties.... It's an agreement, a contract; I don't think it takes philosophical pontification.

I just want to know how many outstanding land claims there are for first nations under your modern treaties and when they will be paid out.

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

As you are correctly asking, we absolutely need, for the short-term and long-term success of this country, to move forward on this process of signing modern treaties. We need to do this respectfully with indigenous communities and nations and people across Canada. That involves, in many cases, making those payments in the most appropriate manner. Even in my previous job as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, I knew, and I have learned repeatedly, that you do this not only quickly but respectfully and efficiently with indigenous peoples.

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I will accept that as the time frame.

We have three minutes left, and I have two more questions.

Thank you for bearing with me.

The next question relates to the funding and strengthening of environmental protections and addressing the concerns raised by indigenous groups regarding the Trans Mountain expansion project. How many fish populations and habitats are impacted by the Trans Mountain expansion project?

9:20 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

I'll say two things on that. The first thing, which you probably know and which is important to remind ourselves of, is that this is a project that has been deemed of national interest and national benefit. It has followed all the important steps that such a project needs to go through. If you are interested in the details of the process and not the budgetary impact of that process, then you will want to ask questions and receive answers from my appropriate colleagues on that file.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I see there is also a request for $487.3 million in funding for both votes 1b and 5b regarding capital investments in physical infrastructure, information management and technology systems.

Can you provide any additional detail on the type of information management and technology systems that would be purchased with the requested funds?

9:25 a.m.

President of the Treasury Board

Jean-Yves Duclos

That's an excellent question, too. While I'll provide the high-level answer, my colleague, Glenn, will probably want to add more specific details.

Vote 5, as you have noted, is for contingencies, again for ways and means to react to unexpected and unpredictable interventions and actions by the federal government, and they involve a number of different sorts of actions.

Perhaps, Glenn, you would like to provide a few more details.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Tom Lukiwski

You have about a minute, Mr. Purves.

9:25 a.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

Sure, I'll be quick.

Mr. Green, just on your question, the funding is effectively a broad range of capital investments in defence capabilities, including about 277 previously planned projects and an additional 52 new projects.

The funds requested in the supplementary estimates (b) that you cited represent a combination of re-profiled funding, which is quite typical of large capital projects over several years, as well as some new funding to start new projects or phases of projects.

We'd be happy to refer your request of a list of specific projects related to the equipment, the IT systems and so forth to our colleagues at Defence.