Proceedings of the Standing Committee on
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Minutes of Proceedings - June 13, 2019


OTTAWA, Thursday, June 13, 2019
(81)

[English]

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration met this day at 8 a.m., in room C128, Senate of Canada Building, the chair, the Honourable Sabi Marwah, presiding.

Members of the committee present: The Honourable Senators Batters, Dalphond, Dawson, Dean, Forest, Marshall, Marwah, Mitchell, Moncion, Munson, Plett, Saint-Germain, Tannas, Tkachuk, Verner, P.C. and Wells (16).

Also in attendance: Pascale Legault, Chief Corporate Services Officer and Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; Richard Denis, Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments and Chief Legislative Services Officer; Philippe Hallée, Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel; senior Senate officials and other support staff.

Also present: The official reporters of the Senate.

WITNESSES:

Senate of Canada:

The Honourable Senator Donald Neil Plett;

Caroline Morency, Acting Director General, Property and Services;

Josée Labelle, LTVP Executive Advisor, Real Property Planning and Projects;

Nathalie Charpentier, Comptroller and Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Procurement Directorate;

Pierre Lanctôt, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Procurement Directorate.

International and Interparliamentary Affairs:

Colette Labrecque-Riel, Clerk Assistant and Director General.

Pursuant to rule 12-7(1) of the Rules of the Senate, the committee continued its consideration of financial and administrative matters concerning the Senate's internal administration.

CIBA/2019-06-13/616(P)|211| — Adoption of minutes of proceedings

The committee considered the minutes of proceedings of Thursday, June 6, 2019, public portion.

The Honourable Senator Forest moved:

That the minutes of proceedings of Thursday, June 6, 2019 be adopted.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

CIBA/2019-06-13/617(P) — Clarification of Statements

It was agreed to defer this agenda item to later in the meeting.

CIBA/2019-06-13/618(P)|233| — Presentation of the Parliamentary Associations' Annual Report on Activities and Expenditures

The Honourable Senator Plett made a statement and, together with Colette Labrecque-Riel, answered questions in relation to the activities and expenditures of parliamentary associations for the fiscal year 2018-19.

After debate, the Honourable Senator Tkachuk moved:

That the report from the Joint Interparliamentary Council: Parliamentary Associations' Activities and Expenditures for the fiscal year 2018-19 be tabled in the Senate.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

CIBA/2019-06-13/619(P)|231| — Report from the Subcommittee on the Long Term Vision and Plan

The Chair of the Subcommittee on the Long Term Vision and Plan, the Honourable Senator Tannas, presented the fourth report of the subcommittee as follows:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Subcommittee on the Long Term Vision and Plan (LTVP) of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

On May 2, 2019, the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (CIBA) adopted the following revised mandate for the Subcommittee on the LTVP:

That, pursuant to the decision of this committee on March 10, 2016 respecting the creation of the Subcommittee on the Long Term Vision and Plan to supervise the move of the Senate from Centre Block to the Senate of Canada Building, the mandate of the subcommittee be extended to include the following:

To supervise all steps, processes and decisions (excluding those areas that are under the authority of the Speaker) relating to the program of work for the Long Term Vision and Plan for the parliamentary precinct, in coordination with the Senate Administration;

To examine the best ways to ensure the rehabilitation of Centre Block, East Block and all other buildings that will be occupied by the Senate in the end state respect the heritage and the best interests of the Senate, without compromising the integrity of security.

For greater certainty, all matters under the authority of the Speaker will be referred to the Speaker.

On June 6, 2019, your subcommittee met to discuss two elements of the Long-Term Vision and Plan: the Block 2 Redevelopment project to be considered as an end state accommodation and the Rehabilitation of Victoria Building Committee Rooms 2 and 9. Your subcommittee now reports as follows:

1. End State Accommodation for the Senate of Canada

The current Senate Long Term Accommodation Strategy reflected in Public Services and Procurement Canada's (PSPC) 2006 Long Term Vision and Plan proposes that all senators' offices be located north of Wellington Street in the end state (when the Senate and House of Commons return to Centre Block). Under this scenario, the Senate would have 3 buildings to house senators' offices: Centre Block, East Block and a new development to the west of the West Block building.

In February 2019, the Property Services Directorate (PSD) reported to the subcommittee that PSPC was launching a new initiative - the "Block 2'' Redevelopment Project - to house Senators and MPs during the rehabilitation of East Block and the Confederation building. The Block 2 redevelopment would include 2 new buildings south of the precinct, on Wellington Street (between Metcalfe Street and O'Connor Street), as well as the rehabilitation of some existing buildings within the same block. This would result in a significant change from the original plan to have all senators' offices located north of Wellington.

There are some working assumptions that could be of benefit to the Senate. Among the working assumptions presented to the subcommittee was that in addition to serving as possible swing space for senators who will have to move out of East Block, the Block 2 redevelopment could provide future, long-term accommodations for the Senate, given that there will not be enough space to house all senators' offices in Centre Block and East Block in the end state. Other factors to consider in terms of whether the redeveloped Block 2 could be a feasible longer term solution include: the potential to develop an underground concourse to connect the buildings located on the south side of Wellington Street (Blocks 1-2-3) to the rest of the precinct, the uncertainty about the final footprint of the Visitor Welcome Centre Complex, and the fact that current plans will place the Senate Chamber and all Senate committee rooms north of Wellington in the end state.

Given these factors, your subcommittee felt that the Block 2 redevelopment would be an appropriate interim space for the Senate while the East Block is closed. However, your subcommittee also believes that it is still too soon to make a final decision on where all Senate buildings should be located in the end state. Accordingly, your subcommittee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation:

Your subcommittee recommends that CIBA approve the Block 2 Redevelopment Project as an interim Senate accommodation while the East Block is closed for rehabilitation; and

That the subcommittee be authorized by CIBA to further explore the feasibility of using the Block 2 redevelopment in the end state.

2. Rehabilitation of Victoria Building Committee Rooms 2 and 9:

The Senate currently has a total of eight (8) broadcast-capable committee rooms: in the Senate of Canada Building (3), 1 Wellington (2 currently + 2 to become operational by January 2020), Victoria Building (2) and East Block (1). However, three of these existing committee rooms are at risk of failure due to the age of the systems: committee rooms 2 and 9 in the Victoria Building and committee room 257-E, in East Block.

In February 2019, your subcommittee was presented with a proposal for the complete rehabilitation of committee rooms 2 and 9 in the Victoria Building. These rooms were last renovated in 2006 and the infrastructure and technology is now beyond its useful service life. Some of the equipment is so obsolete that it is no longer possible to find replacement parts. There are also on-going issues with the noise from outside traffic and the IT and multi-media systems are no longer aligned with the new systems in operation in the new committee rooms in the Senate of Canada Building and 1 Wellington. Further to this, the subcommittee was advised that room 9 has been off-line since April due to equipment failure in the TV control room, while room 2 experienced a primary audio system failure in May 2019. Neither room has been used for publicly broadcasted committee meetings since then.

The initial estimate for a full rehabilitation of these two rooms was in excess of $11 million. Your subcommittee found these costs to be quite high and directed PSD to try and identify an acceptable solution that would reduce the overall costs. We were subsequently presented with a series of options:

  • an upgrade of both rooms with new video broadcasting systems;
  • an upgrade of only one room with video broadcasting systems, the other with audio capability only;
  • an upgrade of both rooms with video broadcasting systems, but without accommodation updates;
  • an upgrade of both rooms with audio only; and
  • an upgrade of one room with video broadcasting and the other converted to a meeting room only.

An additional proposal introduced the possibility of webcasting instead of video broadcasting however, your subcommittee was still concerned that the costs for these new options was still in excess of $5 million.

Your subcommittee also inquired about the usage of the Victoria Building committee rooms since the move and were encouraged to find out that for the most part, committee meetings have taken place in the new committee rooms in the Senate of Canada Building and 1 Wellington. Although we were advised of significant increases in the demand and use of the new committee rooms by committees, subcommittees, caucuses and for special events, your subcommittee feels that some of this pressure will be alleviated by the opening of the two remaining committee rooms in 1 Wellington in the winter of 2020, and as business and usage patterns settle once Parliament returns. Further adjustments to the committees' schedule and to the Senate's Room Allocations Policy can also be made to address some of these pressures.

As a result, your subcommittee concluded that the Senate should first operate for a period of time with the seven broadcast-capable committee rooms that will be in place by 2020, in order to determine whether these are sufficient, before making any further decision about upgrades to the technology and accommodations in the Victoria Building committee rooms. Accordingly, your subcommittee recommends the following:

Recommendation:

Your subcommittee recommends that the Senate not proceed at this time with upgrading the broadcasting systems in Victoria Building committee rooms 2 and 9;

That they remain in operation with the existing broadcasting technology, until such time as this equipment is no longer viable;

That the subcommittee be authorized by CIBA to revisit the state of these two rooms before March 2020 to determine what, if any, upgrades should be approved for broadcasting, audio and/or webcasting technology.

Respectfully submitted,

SCOTT TANNAS

Chair

The Honourable Senator Tannas made a statement and, together with Caroline Morency, answered questions in relation to the recommendations in the report.

After debate, the Honourable Senator Tannas moved:

That CIBA approves the Block 2 Redevelopment Project as an interim Senate accommodation while the East Block is closed for rehabilitation; and

That the Subcommittee on LTVP be authorized by CIBA to further explore the feasibility of using the Block 2 redevelopment in the end state.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

After further debate, the Honourable Senator Tannas moved:

That the Senate not proceed at this time with upgrading the broadcasting systems in Victoria Building committee rooms 2 and 9;

That the Victoria Building committee rooms 2 and 9 remain in operation with the existing broadcasting technology, until such time as this equipment is no longer viable;

That the Subcommittee on LTVP be authorized by CIBA to revisit the state of these two rooms before March 2020 to determine what, if any, upgrades should be approved for broadcasting, audio and/or webcasting technology.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted, on division.

CIBA/2019-06-13/620(P)|230| — Report from Subcommittee on Audit: Senators' Expense Audit

The Chair Audit Subcommittee, the Honourable Senator Moncion, presented the seventeenth report of the subcommittee as follows:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Audit Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

SEVENTEENTH REPORT

As part of the Senate's commitment to transparency and accountability, your subcommittee is of the view that the Administration and senators' expenses should be specifically audited on a regular basis to ensure they comply with policies and practices, and that controls and processes around expenses are efficient and appropriate. The subcommittee believes that this should be started with an audit of the Administration and Senators' Expenses for the fiscal year 2018-19. Such an audit would be performed by an external auditor. Following this audit, a longer- term strategy to audit Administration and senators' expenses will be developed, in conjunction with an overall internal audit strategy, and will be presented at a future meeting.

Your subcommittee therefore recommends that the committee approves the proposed audit of the Administration and Senators' Expenses for the fiscal year 2018-19 based on the proposed scope and approach, and authorize the Administration to initiate a procurement process.

Respectfully submitted,

LUCIE MONCION

Chair

The Honourable Senator Moncion made a statement and, together with Pascale Legault answered questions.

After debate, the Honourable Senator Moncion moved:

That the report be adopted.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

CIBA/2019-06-13/621(P)|190| — Report from Subcommittee on Estimates: Clarifications on the Senators' Office Management Policy

The Chair of the Subcommittee on Senate Estimates, the Honourable Senator Moncion, presented the tenth report of the subcommittee as follows:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Subcommittee on the Senate Estimates of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

TENTH REPORT

On May 9th, 2019, your subcommittee was given the following mandate by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration:

That the proposed changes and clarifications to SOMP be referred to the Subcommittee on Senate Estimates for consideration.

Your subcommittee met on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 to review potential updates to the Senators' Office Management Policy (SOMP). Your subcommittee agreed to the potential changes listed in the appended table and decided to postpone its decisions on other items.

Accordingly, your subcommittee recommends that the changes proposed in the appended table be adopted and that the SOMP be modified accordingly.

Respectfully submitted,

LUCIE MONCION

Chair

The Honourable Senator Moncion made a statement.

The Honourable Senator Moncion moved:

That the report be adopted.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

CIBA/2019-06-13/622(P)|347| — Selection Committee — Intersessional Authority

Philippe Hallée made a statement and answered questions on the intersessional authority of the Committee of Selection.

After debate, the Honourable Senator Batters moved:

That the motion be amended by replacing the words "make recommendation to the committee as needed'' by "make recommendations to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure as needed''.

The question being put on the motion in amendment, it was adopted.

The Honourable Senator Plett moved:

That an Advisory Working Group on the allocation of office accommodations be established;

That the membership consists of the three senators who, on the day on which the 42th Parliament is dissolved, were Chair and Deputy Chairs of the Selection Committee;

That quorum be three;

That the mandate of the Advisory Working Group be to recommend assignment to Senators and their staff, on the basis of seniority and special needs, office accommodations that are not under the control of a caucus and are not reallocated by the caucus to one of its members; and

That the Advisory Working Group make recommendations to the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure as needed.

The question being put on the motion as amended, it was adopted.

CIBA/2019-06-13/623(P) — Clarification of Statements

The Honourable Senator Saint-Germain made a statement on the debate at last week's committee meeting related to the access and circulation within the Senate of Canada Building.

Senator Plett raised a point of order concerning the appropriateness of the debate and the Chair ruled that the subject matter was properly before the committee and that the debate was in order.

Honourable Senators made statements.

CIBA/2019-06-13/624(P)|336| — Proposed Policy Review regarding the Use of Social Media

The Honourable Senator Dean made a statement on a proposed policy review of the use of social media by Senators and their staff.

After debate, the Chair took the matter under advisement and indicated he would return to the committee with a plan for further discussion.

CIBA/2019-06-13/625(P) — Statement on Chair's Ruling

The Honourable Senator Plett made a statement regarding the Chair's ruling at last week's meeting.

CIBA/2019-06-13/626(P)|217| — Subcommittee on Senate Communications

The Honourable Senator Plett raised concerns with respect to a meeting of the Subcommittee on Senate Communications.

At 9:41 a.m., the committee suspended.

At 9:42 a.m., the committee resumed in camera, pursuant to rule 12-16(1).

At 9:42 a.m., the committee adjourned to the call of the chair.

ATTEST:

Pascale Legault

Chief Corporate Services Officer and Clerk of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Gérald Lafrenière

Recording Secretary