Evidence of meeting #20 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was spending.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Paul Cardegna
Glenn Purves  Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat
Roger Ermuth  Assistant Comptroller General, Financial Management Sector, Office of the Comptroller General, Treasury Board Secretariat
Karen Cahill  Assistant Secretary and Chief Financial Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Sonya Read  Acting Assistant Secretary, Digital and Services Policy, Treasury Board Secretariat
Rod Greenough  Executive Director, Expenditure Strategies and Estimates, Treasury Board Secretariat
Raphaëlle Deraspe  Committee Researcher
Tolga Yalkin  Assistant Deputy Minister, Workplace Policies and Services, Treasury Board Secretariat

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you, Mr. Purves and Mr. Jowhari.

We'll go now to Ms. Vignola for two and a half minutes.

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Thank you.

Up to $8 million is included under vote 5 to process outstanding applications for the Canada emergency student benefit, or CESB.

First, how many outstanding applications are there?

Second, why are they outstanding?

Lastly, could there be other costs associated with the fraudulent CERB and CESB applications?

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

I hate to interrupt. I didn't catch the beginning of your question. I'm very sorry.

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

No problem, Mr. Purves.

Up to $8 million is included under vote 5 to process outstanding applications for the CESB.

How many outstanding applications are there? Why are they outstanding? Is there any money to cover the cost of recovering amounts that some people fraudulently obtained at the expense of students and workers?

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

Ms. Vignola, I think what you're referring to is our central vote 5, if I understand correctly. You're referring to the $8 million that was in there. Just to back up, our vote 5 is intended to provide a bridge to the next supply bill, so if a department has an urgent cash need, it is able to extend.

In this regard, what happened was that some recipients were in need of funding and that vote 5 allocation went to provide for those recipients. I'm wondering whether my colleague, Rod Greenough, actually has the number of recipients that received that funding, which I think is another part of your question.

5:40 p.m.

Rod Greenough Executive Director, Expenditure Strategies and Estimates, Treasury Board Secretariat

I don't have the number of recipients, but there were about 4,000 claims made previous to December 31 that were still outstanding. That's what the $8 million is to cover, as these claims are processed.

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you, Mr. Greenough and thank you, Ms. Vignola.

We'll go now to Mr. Green for two and a half minutes.

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you very much.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is requesting $1.7 billion under vote 1c for operating expenditures to support the rapid bulk procurement of essential personal protective equipment and the necessary medical equipment and supplies on behalf of the federal government, provinces and territories.

How much personal protective equipment purchased with this funding would go to the national emergency strategic stockpile?

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

I don't have the answer to that question, Mr. Green. I wish I could give you that breakdown, and I'd be happy to follow up—

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

When they submit their supplementary estimates and they ask for this spending authority, are there briefing notes and documentation that would give them a rationale for the need for this funding?

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

Yes, so—

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

In that rationale, would the purchase of this $1.7 billion be refilling the millions of dollars that were thrown out in 2019? Is that to supplement the closure of the three warehouses for the national emergency stockpile, or is it above and beyond that?

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

This effectively was part of an allocation that was identified early on as part of the Public Health Events of National Concern Payments Act, and as a consequence of that act expiring at the end of December, this [Technical difficulty—Editor] to continue the purchases related to these initiatives.

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Would you not agree that in the definition, Mr. Purves—

March 10th, 2021 / 5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

Now what I [Technical difficulty—Editor] of the key commodities purchased—

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Purves, your answer is pixelated.

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

I'm happy to walk through—

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

It's pixelated, so I can't hear it, and I'm not interested in the walk-through. I'm interested in the answer.

What I'm interested in is finding out the rationale for the approval of this $1.7 billion. How much of it went to the NESS? Certainly that would be in your briefing documents.

5:40 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

I don't have that specifically. I do have the breakdown of the types of commodities that have been used to support this initiative: disposable gowns—

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

May I ask you two questions in short order, Mr. Purves?

Are you familiar with the national emergency strategic stockpile? Just give a yes or no.

5:45 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Okay. Do you not agree that the description of the purchasing under this category would fit the description of the purpose of the national emergency strategic stockpile?

5:45 p.m.

Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat

Glenn Purves

What you're asking for effectively is just the federal stockpile. I don't have the breakdown between the federal and the list of provinces and the territories, Mr. Green.

I'm happy to go back—

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

The national emergency strategic stockpile was originally stocked to provide everybody in an emergency. The federal government shut down three warehouses in 2019, on the eve of the pandemic. We haven't forgotten about that, and we will be getting back to that in short order.

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Robert Gordon Kitchen

Thank you, Mr. Green.

We'll now go to Mr. McCauley for five minutes.