Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be here today and to present the House of Commons supplementary estimates (C) for fiscal year 2011-2012. I am joined today by the Clerk. Following a brief address, we'll gladly respond to any questions that you may have.
The proposed supplementary estimates (C) for the House of Commons total $11.7 million. I would like to stress at the outset that all items in the House of Commons supplementary estimates were presented to, and approved by, the Board of Internal Economy.
For reference purposes, you have been given a document showing the voted appropriations and statutory appropriations that are included supplementary estimates (C).
To facilitate today's discussion, I will provide a brief overview of each item in the order in which it was presented.
Let's begin with the voted appropriations. The voted appropriations in the supplementary estimates (C) total $2.7 million. Here are the details.
To begin, the supplementary estimates (C) provide additional funding of $413,840 for fiscal year 2011-2012 to cover the revised elector supplement. This funding is necessary because of an increase in the number of ridings that are now eligible for either a new or revised elector supplement.
According to the official electoral list published following the May 2011 general election, these changes affect 60 ridings. As you know, members who represent densely populated constituencies receive an elector supplement that remains in effect for the duration of a parliament. This graduated supplement is added to the basic budget when there are 70,000 or more electors on the final list of electors for the constituency.
Next, the supplementary estimates (C) allocate $294,552 for miscellaneous requirements. These funds were allocated to help members with special needs carry out their parliamentary functions.
The supplementary estimates (C) also include funding of $7.3 million for election costs that arose from the general election of May 2, 2011. Of this amount, $4.7 million were statutory appropriations. The remaining $2.6 million represents voted authorities to cover costs such as severance pay for staff of members and House officers who were not re-elected, provisions to help former members resettle, provisions to allow former members to complete outstanding parliamentary business and operations in their Ottawa and constituency offices, and provisions for costs associated with moving a constituency office to a new location.
Supplementary estimates (C) also reflect the fact that a sum of $556,000 from fiscal year 2011-2012 was reprofiled to fiscal year 2012-2013 to enhance the House's asset management system. The current asset management system provides limited information to support the effective management of the life cycle of assets. The upgrades that will be made with this allocation of funds will help to improve the ongoing management, accounting, and reconciliation of assets, while providing support for strategic and operational planning.
This project was scheduled to be completed in 2011-2012, but it had to be delayed because of the general election and the Auditor General's performance audit.
The supplementary estimates (C) also include the reprofiling of $105,000 in funding for the implementation of a new online recruitment tool. This new tool will help improve the staffing process, which is currently time-consuming and somewhat inefficient.
The current economic climate has resulted in an ever-increasing number of applications being received for every position that is advertised. Without the ability to pre-screen, the staffing process can take so long that the House runs the risk of losing the most qualified candidates.
A new online recruitment tool is critical to ensure that the House remains competitive in today's market.
In addition to the $2.7 million in voted appropriations that I just outlined, these supplementary estimates (C) also include an amount of $9 million in statutory appropriations.
As you know, statutory items are those that Parliament has approved through other legislation that sets out both the purpose of expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made. Statutory appropriations are therefore displayed in the supplementary estimates for information purposes only.
Referring once again to the document that has been provided, the first of the statutory appropriations in the supplementary estimates (C) is a $3 million increase to the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances and Retirement Compensation Arrangements accounts.
This increase reflects a Treasury Board decision. As we know, the Treasury Board is responsible for determining and managing these accounts based on actuarial calculations.
In addition to the $2.6 million in voted appropriations to cover election costs, the supplementary estimates (C) also provide for $4.6 million in statutory appropriations required to cover severance pay for members who were not re-elected.
Finally, the supplementary estimates (C) include funding of $1.3 million for fiscal year 2011-12 to offset the increase in travel costs for the travel point system.
The travel point system ensures that all members have equal access to travel resources, regardless of where their constituency is located, and each fiscal year members are allocated 64 points. Travel under the travel point system is a non-discretionary statutory expense, as per the Parliament of Canada Act.
The current budget is not sufficient to cover rising travel costs, and this is why an additional $1.3 million has been allocated.
That concludes my brief overview of the House of Commons supplementary estimates (C) for fiscal year 2011-2012.
At this time, the Clerk and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.