Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Science and Technology
Issue 10 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Tuesday, August 6, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 10:30 a.m. to consider its order of reference to enquire into the state of post-secondary education in Canada.
Senator Mabel M. DeWare (Chair) in the Chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, the Senate has referred to this committee the mandate to enquire into the state of post-secondary education in Canada. The committee must decide how it will handle these hearings. For example, will the main committee take on the task?
I have been inundated with requests from people asking to appear before the committee. Senator Bonnell has struck a sensitive spot with respect to education in Canada. I have had seven requests from student associations and several requests from organizations that do private training.
Do we want to proceed as a full committee, or will we appoint a special committee of five to seven senators to handle this issue? Travel may be involved. It looks as though we will have to travel this fall sometime, perhaps one week to the west and one week to the east. That has not been decided yet, but we are here today to appoint a committee. I open the floor to discussion.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: We would want representatives from each part of the country on the subcommittee. Any senator wishing to be on the subcommittee should be on the subcommittee. We are not a large number on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. I suggest we function as a whole committee, unless other senators have objections. Experience has taught us that committee members can be replaced by other senators, as happened with the Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. If people have not been on the committee for a lengthy time, they lose continuity. Unless there is a major objection, I propose that we function as a full committee.
Honourable senators, we must be careful. This is an important and interesting subject, and in terms of provincial responsibilities in the area of education, we will have to delineate our parameters carefully. That could come at a later point.
The Chair: Honourable senators will have noted some of the comments made in the Senate during debate on Senator Bonnell's proposal. Senator Lewis remarked on a study done by the Senate in 1989 on the cost of post-secondary education. He mentioned that the provinces questioned at that time the reasoning behind the Senate conducting such a study, but that they remained approachable and very helpful.
However, we must be careful where we tread. I appreciate your remarks.
Senator Bosa: I feel that we should form a subcommittee. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology will have a lot on its plate this fall. There is legislation. There is Senator Haidasz' inquiry. There is the tobacco bill. Several items are pending. Consequently, I think there will be a clash of interests between the main committee and the subcommittee. There will be competition between hearing the subject of education and dealing with legislation. For that reason, I suggest that we form a subcommittee of seven senators. If it turns out that the full committee is not as busy as I am predicting, perhaps the entire committee can hear witnesses. I think that a separate subcommittee should deal with this matter.
Senator Cohen: Madam Chairman, I am in favour of having the main committee deal with this matter. Further, upon reflection and after listening to the remarks of my colleagues, I suggest that in the event members are absent, for whatever reason, we have specified senators to fill our slots. They would receive all the information and would keep abreast of the input into our hearings. I would like to see the provinces or the regions represented. Presently we are over-balanced in the Atlantic area.
The Chair: A member of a subcommittee of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology must be a member of the full committee. If someone wishes to resign from the committee to make room for another senator just for the hearings, that could be allowed but only if another member of the committee is not interested. However, they have to be a member of the Standing Senate Committee of Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
Senator Bosa: While I was a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, we created the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. It was a separate committee. The members of that committee were not necessarily members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. They were picked because of their knowledge. Senator Bonnell may recall this.
Senator Bonnell: I think Senator DeWare is correct. Anyone on the subcommittee must be a member of the full committee because the subcommittee does not report to the Senate; the subcommittee only reports to the full committee.
However, there is no reason why we cannot replace senators on the full committee with senators on the subcommittee. For example, if we go to Quebec, there is no reason why we could not replace members of the committee with Quebec senators. The senators we pick today should be interested in sitting on the subcommittee, but that does not mean that they must attend every meeting. We can always substitute someone for a meeting here and there.
The government is always mindful of expense. You can imagine the cost for 12 senators and staff to travel to the west and the east. However, they are in support of a subcommittee of three, five or seven members.
Since there seems to be a great interest in this subject, I would like to see seven members on the subcommittee. Perhaps that is too many, but I think today we should appoint a committee so we can let the press and the people interested know that this committee has been struck and that it will meet to decide what organizational steps it will take.
People in the maritimes are interested in education and naturally so. They all need an education so they can get the hell out of there and make a living. However, I do not think it would be a good thing to form a committee composed only of senators from Atlantic Canada. We should try to balance membership on the committee among the regions, even though we may have to replace members from time to time with other senators.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I agree with Senator Bonnell. However, I view Quebec problems much differently than I view problems in the west or in the Atlantic provinces. Those of you who want to do a fruitful job on this subcommittee must hear people from all over the country. I have nothing against senators from Alberta sitting on the subcommittee if we travel to Alberta, but I think senators on the subcommittee should expect to travel across Canada. Otherwise, we will end up with just regional points of view. We want a broader point of view.
The Chair: There is no reason why someone else cannot join the committee.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I agree.
Senator Bonnell: Could we compose a subcommittee of five senators with authority to extend the membership to seven? Those five senators will form the basis of the subcommittee, and then we would have option to put two senators on the subcommittee when we travel east or travel west.
Senator Beaudoin: I am not a member of this committee. I am already responsible for three big committees, but I have a great concern. Education is a very sensitive issue. As we all know, it is a provincial responsibility. Perhaps the best solution is the whole committee, but I will not make a plea in that regard. My plea is with respect to the representation of this subcommittee. It should not be comprised of senators from one region of Canada only. All regions should be represented.
Now that I have been to Newfoundland again, I understand that many regions in this country -- the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces -- are very sensitive to the question of education. It is very important. Therefore, I would support strong regional representation.
Senator Oliver: I am not here to become a member of the subcommittee and I am not a member of the main committee. I am here in support of the topic, which I think is extremely important. I am here to support Senator Bonnell, as I promised, on this important initiative.
The rule of the Senate is that any senator can sit on any committee the senator wishes. The senator can ask questions and participate fully in all the work of the committee, but the senator cannot vote unless he or she is a member of the committee. Also, if the committee travels and you are not a member, I do not think your expenses are covered, unless there is a substitution.
Madam Chair, this topic is so important that there must be a national study. The subcommittee cannot be made up of senators from the Atlantic provinces only. There must be representation from Newfoundland to the Northwest Territories to British Columbia and from male and female senators. It must be representative of the country. A minimum of seven senators would do it.
If 20 senators are interested, they can sit at the table and participate, as I hope they would.
The Chair: Senators from their own region could join us at any time.
Senator Rompkey: I think a subcommittee might be the best approach, with the addition of other senators as needed.
I support the points that have been made. This is a national study, and there must be balanced representation. I see this as one of the most important studies that we can undertake right now.
I agree that education is a provincial responsibility, but it has national implications. It has implications for Canada, depending on the way the education and, more importantly, the training are conducted. One can perhaps make a distinction between education and training, but both of them impact on productivity and our competitiveness in the world. There is a national interest in education and training. I support those who say that this subcommittee must have balanced representation.
Apart from the fact of cutting expenses, I found on the UI committee in particular -- and you were very good, Madam Chair, in giving senators all sorts of latitude -- that with a smaller number of senators on the committee they had a chance to zero in more forcefully on particular points. That might be an argument in favour of a subcommittee.
Senator Cohen: Senator Rompkey talked about a national committee. Many people in the educational field say that we need national standards, and that is why we need representation from across the country. There are diverse opinions.
The Chair: I will entertain a motion at this time.
Senator Bosa: Honourable senators, I move:
That pursuant to rule 96(4), a subcommittee be appointed to examine the Order of Reference on Post-Secondary Education given by the Senate to the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on June 19, 1996; and
That the subcommittee consist of seven members.
The Chair: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: Carried.
Do you think it would be appropriate at this time to ask members of this committee if they wish to sit on the subcommittee? If too many senators come forward, then the steering committee will have to look at the numbers.
Senator Bosa: Regional representation was the dominant topic. The regions would be divided into Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the prairie provinces and British Columbia.
Senator Oliver: And the Northwest Territories.
Senator Bosa: The prairies include the Northwest Territories and British Columbia includes the Yukon; is that not right?
Senator Cohen: Should the aboriginal community have a representative on the subcommittee, or would that community be represented by the regions?
The Chair: They are now represented by the regions.
Senator Beaudoin: They are everywhere, so they are represented by the regions.
The Chair: We are talking about Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the prairies, which include the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia, which includes the Yukon.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: The suggestion made by Senator Cohen should be discussed further. If there is a group of people in this country for whom secondary education is far from easy, it is the aboriginals. Universities and community colleges have not been good at responding to the aboriginal population. If one of our colleagues, such as Senator Watt, wishes to sit on the subcommittee, I think we should give him a place.
Senator Losier-Cool: Or someone who is very interested in the question and is knowledgeable.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I am speaking about people who live in that community. They know how difficult it is to get into school and graduate from school. When they graduate, what happens to them? We need representation on the committee from people who live and know the life. I know a lot of aboriginals in northern Quebec.
Senator Losier-Cool: They must be interested in sitting on the subcommittee.
The Chair: We need seven senators on this subcommittee. We will appoint one from the Atlantic provinces, one from Quebec, one from Ontario, one from the Prairies, one from B.C. and Alberta, and one from the north. The North will be represented by an aboriginal person.
Senator Beaudoin: Madam Chair, you have reorganized Canada into new regions, which perhaps is a little too ambitious. Until recently, we had four main regions in this country. However, a federal statute now says that we have five regions. I do not understand why you have selected another region. The five regions are Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia, and aboriginals are represented in the regions. The Northwest Territories, as such, is not a region.
Senator Bosa: In the Liberal caucus, the Prairies include the Northwest Territories and B.C. includes the Yukon.
Senator Beaudoin: I have no problem with that.
Senator Bosa: We will have five members representing each of the five regions. Two members could then be drawn from particular communities. The aboriginal peoples may wish to have one representative.
The Chair: Another alternative is to have six members and the seventh could be the Chair.
Senator Bosa: One region will end up with more than one member.
Senator Oliver: Well, it should be Atlantic Canada.
Senator Beaudoin: Why?
Senator Bosa: I move that Senator Bonnell be a member of the subcommittee and possibly the chairman, but that will be up to the subcommittee to decide.
Senator Oliver: If nominated, will he accept?
Senator Bonnell: I will accept, if nominated.
The Chair: Senator Lavoie-Roux, would you be prepared to sit on this committee?
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Yes. Furthermore, I taught in university. I know a little bit about post-secondary education.
The Chair: What about Ontario?
Senator Bosa: I will have to consult members from the Ontario caucus to see who is willing to serve and who can make a contribution.
Senator Oliver: Senator Cools may be a good choice because the visible minority community suffers from this problem.
Senator Bosa: Before I mention her name, I would like to ask her if she would agree.
Senator Bonnell: Is Senator Cools a member of this committee?
The Chair: No, she is not an official member of this committee. Senator Anderson, Senator Bonnell, Senator Bosa, Senator Cohen, Senator Haidasz, Senator Landry, Senator Lavoie-Roux, Senator Losier-Cool, Senator Lynch-Staunton, Senator Keon, Senator Phillips and Senator Rompkey are all members of this committee. We can always appoint someone to take the place of one of our members for the duration of that time.
Senator Bosa: With respect to the caucus split, should it be four and three?
The Chair: I would think so. We have to be careful about that as well.
There is an opportunity here for a senator in the Conservative caucus to represent the prairies. I am thinking of Senator Andreychuk, who has been a university chancellor and a professor. She could take Senator Keon's place because he will not have time for this subcommittee.
Senator Bonnell: I think Senator Forest would like to be on the subcommittee as well. She was a professor in Alberta and involved in the teaching profession.
Senator Beaudoin: You have to balance the committee with respect to Liberals and Conservatives. Senator Andreychuk is a possible choice.
Senator Oliver: Madam Chair, who is on your list now?
The Chair: Officially, we have Senator Bonnell and Senator Lavoie-Roux. We are suggesting someone from Ontario and Senator Andreychuk from the prairies.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Can I nominate you, Madam Chair?
The Chair: I would like to, but I will have to be an alternate because we have one senator from Atlantic Canada.
Senator Oliver: But Senator Bonnell will be the Chair.
Senator Bonnell: Senator Losier-Cool will also be on the subcommittee.
Senator Beaudoin: The composition of a committee is one thing, but the chairmanship is quite another.
The Chair: The chairmanship is decided by the committee when it meets.
Senator Bonnell: If the subcommittee is to be composed of seven senators, we can take one more Conservative and two Liberals.
Senator Oliver: The composition is four and three.
The Chair: We need someone from B.C. and someone representing the aboriginal peoples or the North. In a way, Senator Andreychuk could do that. We need representation from Ontario and the Prairies.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: We will have to talk to our whips.
Senator Bosa: I will come back with three names.
The Chair: As soon as the names are decided, I will call a committee meeting or arrange a conference call.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: We will leave it to you. The balance will have to be between the regions.
The Chair: We will have a subcommittee meeting to appoint a chair and our agenda from there; is that fair?
Senator Lavoie-Roux: That is fair.
The Chair: Under "New Business" on the agenda, we have done some work on Senator Haidasz' bill. We are planning to meet on October 1, 2, 8 and 9. Senator Haidasz has been informed that preparation is under way. Witnesses will be contacted so they can be ready.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Perhaps you could refresh my memory. What is the exact purpose of Senator Haidasz' bill? I know it is about tobacco, but is it a large issue?
The Chair: I do not have the specifics of the bill before me, but I believe the intent is to reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes to 0.03 per cent.
Senator Bosa: I believe it has to do with smoking without harming your lungs.
The Chair: Yes. That will be very difficult.
Senator Oliver: Madam Chair, with respect to the motion to appoint a subcommittee to study post-secondary education, I did not hear anyone move that the subcommittee should report no later than February 25, 1997. Is that a realistic date?
The Chair: Personally, I do not think so. I thought we could deal with that later.
Senator Bonnell: We do not need that motion. It is a motion made in the Senate. That motion is ultra vires.
The Chair: It would be up to the committee to request an extension.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I would like the clerk of the committee -- or perhaps it is the work of the subcommittee -- to ensure that our objectives are well framed before we make anything public. Right away, we can expect to be attacked for studying the field of education. It does not matter that this issue was studied in 1989.
Senator Bosa: The objectives are already in the terms of reference.
The Chair: We will draft a communiqué.
Senator Bonnell: The subcommittee has been set up. We passed a motion that the subcommittee be composed of seven members. However, we did not appoint five or seven senators. In other words, we might as well have all stayed at home because we have no subcommittee. To get the students here in September, we need a subcommittee. We have nothing. Only two senators have been named.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Senator DeWare makes three.
Senator Bonnell: I suggest that Senator DeWare, Senator Losier-Cool and Senator Andreychuk sit on the committee. We would then have a subcommittee. Maybe Senator Bosa could sit on the subcommittee temporarily as the representative for Ontario. We cannot put Senator Andreychuk on the subcommittee because she is not a member of the full committee yet. We can recommend her, but we cannot put her on the subcommittee. For the time being, we need a subcommittee of five to do some planning, and we could fill in the other members later on. We could put out a press release saying that we have set up a subcommittee.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Senator Bonnell, I agree with you, but I would not want to release a communiqué today. The first questions the press will ask us are, "What will you examine; what will you comment on?"
Senator Oliver: The press will also ask if the subcommittee is representative of the country.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: It might be too early to issue a communiqué. Perhaps we should wait until we have finalized the composition of the subcommittee.
Senator Bosa: What Senator Bonnell says makes sense. We can always substitute members with those who want to serve and feel they can make a contribution to the committee. At least we would have made a start, rather than having to meet again or have a conference call to appoint the membership. For instance, we cannot appoint Senator Andreychuk because she is not a member of the committee yet. Only the whips can change that.
The Chair: I am a deputy whip. I can do it.
Senator Bosa: I am a deputy whip as well.
If we accept the suggestion by Senator Bonnell, I will sit on the subcommittee, as will Senators DeWare, Lavoie-Roux, Bonnell and Losier-Cool. We would then have five members.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: True, but we would have three members from the maritimes.
Senator Bonnell: We will substitute later on.
The Chair: In other words, we have appointed an interim membership.
Senator Beaudoin: On a point of order, this is the first time I have seen such a difficulty. To change the membership of a committee, you just have to call Senator Kinsella and Senator Hébert and you will have the full committee in 10 minutes. It is not prudent to form a committee that is not well balanced. To save one minute, you are risking some criticism.
The Chair: We will identify the interim members of this committee as Senators Bonnell, Losier-Cool, Bosa, DeWare and Lavoie-Roux.
Senator Bonnell: I move that those five names comprise the subcommittee on a temporary basis so that we can get things moving forward.
The Chair: I know that this is not regular, but can we proceed?
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I am concerned about the representation. We have five names. We have two senators left to appoint. However, we already have three senators from the maritimes.
Senator Bosa: This is only an interim subcommittee membership.
The Chair: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The committee adjourned.
OTTAWA, Thursday, September 26, 1996
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this day at 11:00 a.m. to consider its inquiry on post-secondary education.
Senator Mabel M. DeWare (Chair) in the Chair.
The Chair: Good morning. Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. Welcome as well to the fall session of the Senate. It looks as though it could be an interesting year for all of us.
I would also like to welcome our clerk, who was married last Friday, now Mrs. Jill Anne Joseph. We wish her well.
The first item on the agenda is the budget of the Subcommittee on Post-Secondary Education, a copy of which was sent to your offices. We would like to hear your comments and answer your questions.
We have discussed the first item -- communications consultant. We are negotiating with the Department of Journalism at Carleton University. They are anxious to come aboard and look after this for us. We should like to approve this item so that our clerk can alert them to be ready.
Senator Kinsella: I have a question about the expert advisor and the 20 days. What is envisaged for this expert advisor?
Ms Jill Anne Joseph, Clerk of the Committee: There is no specialist at the Library of Parliament in the area of education. Grant Purves has been assigned to the committee and is doing all he can. I included it in the budget because there was some discussion of perhaps needing to bring on board someone who specializes in the area of education, if necessary.
Senator Kinsella: You are telling us that there is no one in the Library of Parliament who has this field of expertise?
Ms Joseph: That is the explanation I was given, yes.
Senator Kinsella: From whom did you get that explanation?
Ms Joseph: From Mr. Purves himself. He said that he would be assigned to the committee because there is no one who specializes in the area of education.
Senator Kinsella: I have a difficult time conceptualizing the kind of expert advice that this committee would need, independent of the advice of the experts who will appear before the committee as witnesses. It seems to be somewhat tautologous.
The Chair: Is it the wish of the committee to remove that item from the budget?
Senator Kinsella: I would recommend that it be deleted.
The Chair: Is the committee agreed?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chair: We will move on to reporting and transcribing services. You all know the cost of that. There is also translation and interpretation. I think the rest speaks for itself.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: With regard to travelling, the expense of taking staff with the committee is very high. What portion of the $179,000 relates to going out of Ottawa?
The Chair: The total transportation cost is $54,691. Hotel costs come into that as well. We are assuming 10 days for translation and transcribing outside of Ottawa. If you have any problems with the transportation costs, we could reduce the travel by a day or two to also reduce that cost proportionately.
Senator Kinsella: Perhaps, Madam Chairman, the more fundamental question surrounds the rationale for travelling to Halifax, Montreal, Regina and Victoria. If there is a compelling case to be made for going to those five particular cities, and not to other cities, a case which is germane to this very important study, then I should like to hear that argument.
Many cities which are not covered here have very distinguished institutions of learning. Would we be spending the Senate's money more prudently if we limited our travel to places which we learn about, during our gathering of evidence, where a compelling issue has arisen which needs closer study? Otherwise, it may be much better to have the study conducted here in Ottawa. It would certainly be much more economical to do that. Here we have the translation services, the facilities and the infrastructure.
Whilst I am not opposed in principle to travel, I would like to know why I need to travel, particularly to deal with a subject like this. So much of the data is available electronically. I am afraid that we may be criticized and that it would do harm to this very important study. After all, $179,000 could send a lot of youngsters to post-secondary education if we invested the capital and simply used the interest from it.
Perhaps a compromise would be to agree to travel if necessary. However, unless there is a compelling argument to be made for travelling now, in my opinion, we should not provide for it now. It may bring adverse criticism to the work of this committee.
However, if something comes up at any time, such as an important conference somewhere, I am sure the Senate would look favourably upon the committee's attendance.
Senator Perrault: I believe this committee must travel to obtain opinions from people in various parts of Canada. I am ever mindful of the fact that British Columbia is closer to Russia than it is to Ottawa. There are all sorts of extra travel costs for people from British Columbia who wish to testify before committees. There is anger there at the idea that hearings "must" be convened in the halls of Ottawa and that westerners must pick up the tab to get here if they can afford it. As a result, the input is not what it should be from some of the more remote sections of this country.
Education is one of the critical issues before all of us. We should not adopt the attitude that unless we can justify going to Regina, for example, that we should not go. I do not buy that argument. I notice that Victoria is listed for British Columbia. You would save money by holding the hearings in Vancouver.
The Chair: It is supposed to be Vancouver. We simply chose five regional cities and used them as examples for budget purposes. Any hearing would likely be held in Vancouver.
Senator Perrault: There will be great unhappiness if there is no opportunity for input from the third largest province in the country. The costs are enormous for westerners to come to Ottawa for hearings.
The Chair: The committee does pick up some expenses.
Senator Perrault: Yes, it does for witnesses, but not for those people who wish to sit in on the hearings.
Senator Bonnell: The cities that are mentioned in the budget could be changed. Perhaps we should be going to Quebec City rather than Montreal. Perhaps we should be going to Halifax, and perhaps we should be going to Moncton because of the French schools there, or perhaps it should be Fredericton. However, all the regions should be visited.
The main reason we must travel is that education is a provincial jurisdiction. We will not get the full cooperation of all the provinces to come to Ottawa.
Finally, the Senate itself unanimously approved travel. This committee must now go to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration for approval of the budget, but the actual authority to travel has already been given by the Senate as a whole.
Since education is a provincial jurisdiction, I believe we should try to go to the regions of the country.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: We need to leave the door open for hearings in B.C., and perhaps Newfoundland at the other end of the country. However, if the Senate goes to Montreal to hold hearings on education, we will be out the door in 15 minutes. I can assure you of that. The people from Montreal and Quebec can come to Ottawa. When we studied euthanasia, it was decided that witnesses from Ontario and Quebec would appear here. I suggest that we delete the expenses for Ontario and Quebec.
Senator Bonnell: I suggest that we approve the budget as proposed. It is not the intention of the committee to go anywhere until at least after Christmas when we will see how the committee is progressing in Ottawa. We will do all the main work in Ottawa. We may then see the need to go to a particular region. At least we will have the money to go. If we do not need to spend the money, we will not. However, it should be in the budget so that we can plan our work as we go along without being curtailed. For that reason, I suggest we leave the budget as it is.
If Senator Lavoie-Roux does not want us to go to Montreal, we will not go. We do not want to cause any trouble. However, if enough witnesses there wish to appear, I think we should accommodate them.
Senator Cohen: Are you saying we should not predetermine the destinations we will visit until we progress further along, but that we should keep our ears open and be cognizant of the fact that British Columbia does have a problem because of distance? I want to clarify that before I vote.
Senator Bonnell: You are right, and so does New Brunswick.
Senator Cohen: We are closer. We can travel.
Senator Bonnell: New Brunswick is the only bilingual province in Canada. Both languages are represented there and we need to talk to them.
Senator Kinsella: The argument is made that we must go to all these provinces because this matter is subject to provincial jurisdiction. That raises the fundamental concern that many of us have about whether we should be doing this study at all if it is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. It seems to me we cannot have the argument both ways.
Senator Bonnell: You have already voted for the study. Do not change your mind now.
Senator Kinsella: I think the study is a great idea, but I think that we must be very prudent in the execution of the study so that we do not get blown out of the water by the provinces.
I am particularly concerned about several provinces which will jump on this immediately. We would be naive to think that that will not happen. It would be better for us to approach this thing in a systematic way, in phases. The first would be the gathering of data here in Ottawa, as Senator Bonnell suggests, between now and Christmas.
I am confident we will hear some very important pieces of evidence from our witnesses which will bear on many federal jurisdiction issues, collaborative issues, and we will have a good basis upon which to reflect or to mirror some of the things which clearly are provincial.
In your approach, even the suggestion that you will travel to some provinces and not to others is reason to raise concern in the province which I represent. Why should there be a study done by the Parliament of Canada in which they will go to Halifax, to the province of Nova Scotia, but do not come to the province of New Brunswick? We are the province that has two linguistic communities and all the issues that surround that fact for our post-secondary institutions, our community colleges and our universities.
This is not a simple matter. I agree with Senator Perrault that there are regions of the country, particularly the western regions, that get fed up with seeing everything happen in Ottawa. I am not saying no to travel, but it should be strategic. In the budget of $179,000, most of it is for travel. People may see it as another travel junket for senators, whereas, in fact, Senator Bonnell's inquiry has raised a very important national issue. That is what we want to deal with.
I am not opposed to this at all. I am in favour and supportive, but I think we should adopt the budget that deals with professional services, meals and hospitality, witnesses, and courier services, which will take us up to $60,000 or so, and leave travel out of it for now. Perhaps we should let it be a note to the minutes of this meeting that, if we decide to travel strategically, we will be making a supplementary budget request.
Senator Perrault: Senator Kinsella makes some good points here. Has any preliminary work been done to ascertain the view of the provinces with respect to this proposed study? It seems to me that, because education is a responsibility of the provinces, it is important that we have their cooperation and understanding. Many provincial governments in the past would have picked up this issue and said Ottawa is trying to interfere and impose itself. We do not need that. We need to be a helpful, positive committee.
There are aspects of modern education which transcend provincial boundaries, such as distance education. There are some good reasons for doing a study of this kind, but we need the cooperation and understanding of the provincial governments.
The Chair: That has not been the reaction of the various Canadian ministers of education, and there is a request going out to them to come before the committee.
Senator Perrault: So it looks encouraging?
The Chair: Yes. They seem to be interested. At least they are interested in coming before the committee. Their reaction when they get here may be to ask why we are doing this but at least they show an interest.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Have you written to all of them?
The Chair: No, not yet.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: When you say they are interested, how do you know they are interested?
The Chair: The clerk has had input.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: From all of the provinces?
Senator Kinsella: To whom did you speak?
Ms Joseph: I spoke to the secretariat of the CMEC. I have not spoken to the ministers themselves.
Senator Cohen: The first page of the minutes states that the committee is authorized to examine the report on the state of post-secondary education, including a review of provincial and local goals. That may be seen as stepping on the toes of the provinces. Perhaps we should be writing to the ministers of education in each province in advance of this study, to get their reaction. In other words, we should be totally open, rather than give them reason to say later that we are infringing on their territory.
The Chair: There has been a work-plan drafted, which Senator Bonnell, as chairman, will give out to the committee. It contains the policy and goals and so on. We are trying to make sure that we handle this in a way that will not offend anyone. The committee intends to be as discreet as possible, but everybody understands there is a problem out there with jurisdiction. We do not want to infringe on that. We want to have them on side as we start.
Senator Cohen: Should we send a letter?
The Chair: It is up to the committee.
Senator Bosa: Madam Chairman, I am wondering whether Senator Bonnell has had some informal indication from the provinces as to how they will react to this study? I admire your pioneering spirit in an area as delicate as this. I am sure you must have been prompted to embark on this study by some factual basis. Have you had any indication that the provinces will not suddenly say, as Senator Lavoie-Roux suggested, "Mind your own business; this is our area"?
Senator Bonnell: I understand that our clerk has been in contact with the committee of ministers, and they have shown some interest in appearing. I thought they might be among the first witnesses. We would like to get the ministers of education from the provinces as the first witnesses, to set the field straight. They have more or less agreed to come, but they are meeting in other places right now. Their annual meeting is this week, so they cannot be here, but somewhere in the next two or three weeks, we hope to hear from them.
If we do not get their support, we will look into what the federal government has to say. Our first witness will be here this afternoon, from the federal Department of Human Resources Development, to tell us where the federal government stands on this.
As you probably know, we are a little slow getting going, because the committee has not really been set up yet. All the members have not yet been appointed. It is hard to know what viewpoints the different members will bring to the committee if they have not yet been appointed.
I can tell you that this is a non-political committee trying to better the education system in Canada to give us some kind of standard across the country for the benefit of universities, students, and job creation and for the development of trade in the world.
Our clerk here also assists the subcommittee and she has laid out a strategic plan for coping with this thing. If she has a copy with her, I would be prepared to read it to you so you can know what we plan to do and how we plan to do it and which fields we hope to investigate.
Senator Bosa: Madam Chairman, we are actually here this morning to approve the budget -- not to re-think the principles of the study.
Senator Phillips: I am rather puzzled by the suggestion that we approve the "Professional and Other Services" and then eliminate the travel. A large portion of the professional and other services refers to Halifax, Montreal, Toronto. I do not see why we are approving that part when we do not know whether we will go there.
If you are to eliminate anything, it may be a little bit cheaper, depending on the number of witnesses you have, to bring them up from Montreal and Toronto, than have to have the committee go down. However, I do not see the purpose in eliminating the portions dealing with Halifax and Western Canada. If New Brunswick is concerned, it would be easier for New Brunswickers to go to Halifax, probably, than to come to Ottawa.
If we are going to make any changes in the travel, then I would suggest that we proceed along that line rather than delay it and leave everything up in the air, not knowing when or if you will travel.
This budget has to go to the Internal Economy Committee. My experience has been that, the longer you leave things in the air, the less money there is in the pockets of that committee.
The Chair: Senators, it looks as though we have about three proposals before the committee at this time: one, to approve the budget; two, to approve a portion of the budget and allow the travel to be a supplementary, after Christmas, after we have heard the witnesses and decided where we should go; and three, to approve the budget and eliminate Toronto and Montreal.
Senator Bosa: There could be a fourth proposition. Perhaps we could approve the budgets and provide for the expenses of listening to the provinces first. After a preliminary examination of their response, then the budget could be expanded or whatever, based on the testimony that we receive from the provinces.
Senator Kinsella: Building on Senator Bosa's suggestion, in effect, we could approve the communications budget of $5,000, the $2,000 for meals, the $300 for hospitality, and put in the $40,000 for witnesses and $600 for courier. That would give you a budget of $47,900.
Under the $40,000 for witnesses, we could cover the expenses of those deputy ministers who may come from the provinces as witnesses. That would allow us, as you say, to complete that phase.
The Chair: Let us review that again.
Senator Kinsella: In your budget on page 3, we would accept professional services -- 0401 is the code for the communications consultants -- at $5,000. We will also accept item 4 under "Professional and Other Services," meals, code 0415, which is $2,000; and hospitality, number 5, which is $300. Then on page 4, we would accept item 2, witnesses' expenses, code 0205, $40,000; and item 3, courier services, code 0213, $600. That comes to a total of $47,900.
The Chair: What is the pleasure of the committee?
Senator Bonnell: I move that the budget be approved as tabled, with no amendments. If the money is not spent, it will be turned back into the funds of the internal economy committee.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I thought there was a proposal from Senator Kinsella.
Senator Cohen: About the expert advisor? We eliminated that.
The Chair: That was removed, the $10,000. It was only approved to five.
Senator Kinsella: There was no vote on it. It was put informally.
The Chair: We have a motion on the floor from Senator Bonnell.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I think some correction should be made.
Senator Phillips: He does not need a seconder for it.
The Chair: I asked for agreement to Senator Bonnell's motion. Do we have an agreement?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Chair: Do I have another proposal?
Senator Kinsella: The motion would be that the committee's budget submission to the Internal Economy Committee be composed of five items: communications $5,000; meals $3,000; hospitality $300; witnesses $40,000; courier $600.
Senator Cohen: I so move.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: This is the first stage, the first phase. Then we will see where we need to travel, how much travelling we must do, and then we go and get the money we need.
Senator Bosa: I only suggested this, Madam Chairman, because I felt there was no clear way to proceed. I agree with Senator Bonnell that we could approve the budget and, if we do not spend it, it sits there. It has happened many times in committees before where we have a preliminary budget which is not used up, and it goes back into the pot.
In order to get the wheels moving, this is a reasonable compromise which does not prevent the study from continuing, but at least it meets the approval of the members of the committee.
Senator Cohen: I would like to move that motion as a member of the committee.
The Chair: I understand there has been agreement to Senator Kinsella's proposal?
Senator Cohen: That is the motion I wish to move.
The Chair: It does not exclude the subcommittee, under the chairmanship of Senator Bonnell, after they gain a feeling in the fall for how the provinces are responding, from coming in with a supplementary budget after Christmas.
The motion is carried.
Senator Bonnell: Madam Chair, where do you get the idea that there is agreement on that motion? Who told you that?
The Chair: Could I see a show of hands, please?
I see five. It is carried.
Senator Cohen: I moved the motion because Senator Kinsella is not on the committee.
The Chair: Next item is the appointment of two new members to the subcommittee. Senator Andreychuk from our caucus has agreed to sit on the committee, and she will be named today if there is no disagreement.
Senator Bonnell: Is she on this committee as well? Because she cannot go to the subcommittee unless she is on this committee.
The Chair: She has been appointed to the committee in Senator Keon's place. Senator Perrault has been appointed from your caucus and he will be sitting on the subcommittee.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I move that the two be accepted.
Senator Bosa: Senator Cools, is she already on the subcommittee? You have to have somebody from Ontario. I nominate Senator Cools.
Ms Joseph: That can be done with a membership change through your whip.
The Chair: Senator Losier-Cool is on right now and that change can be handled through your whip.
Senator Bosa: That would be a substitution; I see.
The Chair: I would like to remind the committee that, at ten o'clock next Tuesday, we will be sitting to deal with Senator Haidasz's Bill S-5. On Thursday, Senator Bonnell's subcommittee will hear officials from Human Resources.
Senator Bonnell: That is right. We would be pleased to have all members of this committee sit in on the meetings to keep posted on what is taking place.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: If the committee would allow, I have a proposition which I should have made earlier. I would appreciate it if, every month, we could have a progress report on the expenses. I do not want to come back on old history, but we know that we have no real say in the way the money is expended and the way it is moved from one item to the other. They never ask us.
For example, if the $5,000 that is allowed for communications goes somewhere else, we should be asked about it first.
The Chair: She is on the steering committee, so I am sure the two of you can do that.
Senator Bonnell: I am sure that Senator Lavoie-Roux will not be transferring any money without the full approval of the committee. She has never done it before and she is not likely to not start doing it now.
Senator Cohen: Senator Bonnell, will you send notices of your subcommittee meetings to members of the full committee?
Senator Bonnell: As I understand it, the clerk will send notices of the meetings to all members of the Senate. They are welcome to participate.
The committee adjourned.