Evidence of meeting #160 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was regulations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Philippe Dufresne  Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons
Robyn Daigle  Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I appreciate that clarity as well.

You mentioned briefly the coming into force date. Is it your recommendation that we would proceed with that in the first sitting of the next Parliament?

11:20 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Philippe Dufresne

It could be the first sitting of the next Parliament. In the current form, it would enter into force immediately once adopted by the House. Assuming that the House would continue to sit in this session, after that, it would apply immediately.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I'm curious more generally about some of the statistics of members' absences.

Are there anonymized records kept of dates missed for medical reasons and public functions, and also for the “other” category that we see when we check off the boxes? Are those records kept? Are there statistics you'd be able to share with us based on that?

11:20 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Philippe Dufresne

I don't believe there are statistics that we would be able to share.

I don't know if my colleague would want to add to that in terms of the—

June 6th, 2019 / 11:20 a.m.

Robyn Daigle Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

I am not aware of any statistics either, except that they're kept and they're sent to HRS. If it were to be above 21 days, then deductions would be made.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Are you aware of any members having exceeded the 21 days during this Parliament?

11:20 a.m.

Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

Robyn Daigle

Not recently, that I am aware of.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I appreciate that.

I think we generally know when members have missed days for reasons of pregnancy and having given birth. It's less clear when the member's partner has given birth. I am assuming we also don't have statistics on the partners of....

11:20 a.m.

Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

Robyn Daigle

The only stats we would have is what's included and provided to us in the monthly attendance form, and that's absolutely it.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

I know that, for example, I missed five days when our third child was born, and four days when our first child was born, but they both had the good common sense to be born on break weeks, which helped lessen those days.

I appreciate that.

I think that's all I have at this point, Chair, in terms of questions.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Madam Moore.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

I would just like to clarify something about retroactivity of sorts.

Let's take the example of a new member with a six-month-old child at the time of election. Could they choose to have a lighter schedule over the first six months of their term?

If these regulations were implemented now, since there are not many sitting days left, I would be surprised if people decided to opt for that kind of a schedule. However, once the regulations have been implemented, any members with a child under the age of 12 months could decide to miss sittings on certain days for reason of parenthood.

11:20 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Philippe Dufresne

Even if the regulations came into force as soon as the House made them, they define the period in question as the period that starts on the day of the child's birth or the day when the child is placed with the member for the purpose of adoption, depending on the case, and ends 12 months later. If, at the time of the regulations coming into force, the child has already been born, that 12-month period would have already begun and would continue. The 12-month period would not begin on the date the regulations are made.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

That's right. Essentially, that means that, if I had an 11-month-old child when the regulations went into force, I would have another month to benefit from that measure.

11:25 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Thank you.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Larry Bagnell

Ms. Sahota.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

My first question is, how did this issue land in the lap of the House administration and then the Board of Internal Economy? What prompted this issue to be explored?

11:25 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Philippe Dufresne

In the initial PROC report—this was prior to the amendment of the act—there was a recommendation that if this happened, the House administration could be consulted on that. Then more recently there was an express request made in PROC for the House administration to look into this. I believe this was raised by the government House leader, and as a result of that request made at the board, we came forward with those proposals.

It was always understood that ultimately it's the House that makes those decisions in terms of regulations. The idea was that this would be presented to the board to seek the board members' views, but ultimately it would come here, which would be the body to then ultimately refer it to the House.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Have any members in the past faced challenges and approached the House administration about this issue?

11:25 a.m.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

Philippe Dufresne

I wouldn't have that information.

11:25 a.m.

Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

Robyn Daigle

Yes, I am aware of cases where difficulties have been expressed, similar to where we have sometimes been engaged with helping accommodate members who are trying to be in the workplace and who might have some difficulty. We might put measures in place for them to assist them.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Can you elaborate a little more without revealing who the members are? From your experience or from documented records—you can go back decades, if you like—what have some of the challenges been for them?

11:25 a.m.

Director, Members’ HR Services, House of Commons

Robyn Daigle

I think it's similar to a lot of the stuff that's already been studied in PROC over the last couple of years in making it a more family-friendly environment for the members. We know—it's very public—that some MPs are new mothers and fathers.

Some concerns have been expressed that there are no maternity provisions for some of these individuals. Sometimes measures are put in place to assist them if they need to travel. Sometimes regulations are in place when they need to travel on airplanes or if they have more than one child.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

You stated that parental leave perhaps was not the best terminology for this but it was in line with what had been used in the past. Can you explain why you think leave wouldn't be the best terminology and if there's a way perhaps that we can rephrase it?