Evidence of meeting #54 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ron Parker  President, Shared Services Canada
Raj Thuppal  Assistant Deputy Minister, Cyber and IT Security, Shared Services Canada
Graham Barr  Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategy, Shared Services Canada
Wayne Smith  Former Chief Statistician of Canada, As an Individual
Ivan Fellegi  Former Chief Statistician of Canada, As an Individual

9 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Cyber and IT Security, Shared Services Canada

Raj Thuppal

We use the Government of Canada security policies and procedures to bring in people. Most of our administrators are cleared to a secret level, using the clearance process that we have within government. For departments such as the RCMP, FINTRAC, and other special departments, there is additional security done, personal security checks, before they get access to those environments. That's from the people clearances side.

We do have some technical controls in our infrastructure to ensure that people who have access to a particular thing are doing only that and are not trying to do something they're not supposed to do. We are continuously investing in that kind of automation, using the funding that we received in the last budget, to improve the administrative access controls so that we can detect any of these internal breaches and can take action immediately.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Parker, you also mentioned that you were closing a legacy data centre and taking that to a new data centre. In Vegreville, we had a legacy immigration centre that got moved to a new data centre in Edmonton. I'm wondering if you could talk about where this is at, the displacement of individuals—if that is the case—and what the scenario was.

9:05 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

The closure of that legacy data centre has not yet occurred. We're beginning to plan to close it. It's a multi-year exercise to move something of that magnitude. This particular one is located in Ottawa. In terms of displacement of people, there are not a lot of people who work in data centres these days. Most of the data centre control is remote and is done through networking, as opposed to the physical on site location of employees.

For the new data centres, for example, they call them “dark” centres. A number of people are there, but typically they're not present all the time and are otherwise deployed on other activities.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

For the people who are working remotely, then, you're simply saying that they're all working off-site, and from some other area. Are they all working in Canada?

9:05 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

All of our employees reside within Canada, so yes.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

There's one other thing when we talk about computers and information issues and so on. These issues have nothing to do with you; however, if I don't ask this question.... It's about the Phoenix pay system that we have. I still have people who are tearing their hair out because of the issues associated with that.

I don't know whether there is a distinction to be made here, or whether you're engaged in any way, shape or form in this, but people put it all together and say, “All right, here's a bunch of computers, and there's a bunch of people, and all you have to do is spit out the right cheque at the end of the day, so why isn't that happening?”

Do you have any comment to make so that a person could go back and say, “We know this is an issue”, or “This is how this can be solved”?

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

You have about 15 seconds.

9:05 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

As a deputy, I very much have those same concerns broadly for my employees. Shared Services' specific responsibility around Phoenix resides with the infrastructure upon which the Phoenix software is running. That infrastructure has been solid. There haven't been substantial issues with it. The work continues on improving the application.

9:05 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Okay. Thank you very much.

9:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

Thank you very much.

Mr. Masse, you have seven minutes, please.

April 4th, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here today.

With regard to Shared Services, it's been a rather disruptive start, from 2011 until even today. If you look at some of the history, the genesis of Shared Services was rather turbulent, to say the least. In fact, when the announcement was made, only temporary offices were provided to staff at that time.

In terms of where we are today, how confident are you that the chief statistician will be able to work with Shared Services with a sense of independence—ensuring that informetrics, for example, will not be interfered with? That seems to be one of the largest things to take care of with regard to the relationship you have.

9:05 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Mr. Chair, I'm extremely confident that the chief statistician will be able to carry out all of his responsibilities as per the Statistics Act and the new legislation. Shared Services Canada in no way impinges on those duties in terms of the operations and scope of what Statistics Canada undertakes to obtain and publish the data that Canadians depend upon.

9:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I guess the legislation, the way I understand it, still gives Shared Services a veto over that. Is that true, to your knowledge?

9:05 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Mr. Chair, could the question be clarified? A veto over...?

9:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Over requests or informetrics that might be used.

9:10 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Statistics Canada is responsible for the identification of its business needs. We have identified many requirements, and we have put in place, through our governance processes, the work that's needed to meet those business requirements.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Okay. That's one of the biggest things. One of the suggestions has been to potentially look at other standards for Shared Services in terms of review. With regard to international standards, where do you at Shared Services rank with other developing nations in terms of information, protection of privacy, and so forth?

9:10 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Mr. Chair, in terms of a ranking, I'm not aware of an international comparison around this type of service. I do know that what we're undertaking is one of the largest transformations across governments in this field. It's an ambitious undertaking, and we are looking for that expertise from a wide number of folks. The independent review that's been done brings evidence to bear with respect to how we compare with industry standards. That's what we'll be benchmarking to on an ongoing basis.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

That's fair. What people often forget is that the Department of Homeland Security, for example, which is the largest bureaucratic organization in the world, just came about in recent times. Your evolution from almost more than 100 different elements into one single thing is quite difficult, to say the least, but the process has been fraught. I think there was some politics as well.

One of the things I am asked, though, is the following. As you go through this process, will there bonuses still be provided to executives and managers during this time? This issue was raised before, and I'm just wondering whether in this current fiscal year bonuses will be provided to executives for Shared Services activities.

9:10 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Mr. Chair, we follow the performance pay regime of the Government of Canada. Part of that regime is to have a base salary, a performance-related set of criteria, and, for exceptional performance, bonuses. We're part of the overall Government of Canada system, and we continue to adhere to that.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

So the answer to that is yes.

9:10 a.m.

President, Shared Services Canada

Ron Parker

Mr. Chair, we follow the Treasury Board guidelines with respect to the application of pay standards.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Okay, maybe we can have the researchers bring back to us the Treasury Board structure for performance bonuses for departments. That would be something I would be interested in having, in particular for Shared Services but also for other comparable government agencies.

How much time do I have, Mr. Chair?

9:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Dan Ruimy

You have a minute and a half.

9:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you.

To go further on potential privacy and other issues, what are some of the improvements you have made in response to past criticisms? For example, in the past the RCMP and other organizations have levelled criticisms in that regard. What improvements have been made since those criticisms were levelled—most recently in February of this year?