The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 1:30 p.m. to study the subject matter of all of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures.
Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I wish to welcome all those who are with us in the room and viewers across the country who may be watching on television and online. My name is Percy Mockler from New Brunswick, chair of the committee.
As a reminder, the committee hearings are open to the public and also available online at sencanada.ca.
I would now ask the senators to introduce themselves, starting on my left.
Senator Klyne: Good afternoon. Marty Klyne, Saskatchewan.
Senator Duncan: Pat Duncan, Yukon.
Senator Pratte: André Pratte from Quebec.
Senator Andreychuk: Raynell Andreychuk, Saskatchewan.
Senator Marshall: Elizabeth Marshall, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: This afternoon we continue our consideration of the subject matter of Bill C-97, which we started yesterday. The sponsor of the bill is Senator Boehm.
We are considering Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019, and other measures, referred to as a budget implementation act.
Yesterday, we covered Parts 1, 2 and 3 with officials from the Department of Finance. We are about to start Part 4.
As we know, Divisions 1 and 2 of Part 4 were referred to other Senate committees for pre-study. We will go now directly to Division 3 of Part 4, which pertains to the Employment Equity Act.
To explain the relevant clauses from Employment and Social Development Canada, we welcome Gertrude Zagler, Director, Employment Equity, Compliance Operations, and Program Development Branch, Labour Program. And also Sharmin Choudhury, Policy Analyst, Compliance, Operations, and Program Development Branch, Labour Program.
Thank you very much for accepting our invitation to explain Division 3 of Part 4. Ms. Zagler, you have the floor.
Gertrude Zagler, Director, Employment Equity, Compliance Operations, and Program Development Branch, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada: Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for inviting us here.
Employment and Social Development Canada is seeking to adjust the reporting requirements outlined in the Employment Equity Act in order to implement paid transparency in the federally regulated private sector. It is an amendment to section 18(1) of the act to allow us to collect more specific annual wage data from federally regulated private sector employers than is currently authorized through the legislation. This amendment supports the introduction of pay transparency measures as announced in Budget 2018.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: Is there some sort of template or regulations that specify exactly what information has to be provided or is it left up to the employers?
Ms. Zagler: Actually, it is contained in our regulations, and with this change in the legislation, we will be amending our regulatory package as well so we’re moving forward with that right now. We’ve already completed some consultations on that front and have been out talking to employers and stakeholders across Canada already on that.
Senator Marshall: I can remember when we discussed this last year for Budget 2018. This applies to federally regulated employers, doesn’t it?
Ms. Zagler: That’s correct.
Senator Marshall: Just remind us again who they are and what percentage of the workforce it represents.
Ms. Zagler: In our case, it’s those employers covered under the Employment Equity Act, so it’s the federally regulated private sector who have 100 or more employees. Overall that is approximately 4 per cent of the Canadian workforce.
Senator Marshall: Thank you very much.
Senator Pratte: I haven’t had time to read this part of the bill, so currently, federally regulated businesses are required to provide some information regarding pay equity, right?
Ms. Zagler: That’s correct.
Senator Pratte: That was required by law?
Ms. Zagler: Yes.
Senator Pratte: Perhaps you could explain what that changes because the information would be in the regulation. So what does the bill change exactly?
Ms. Zagler: Prior to this change and the change in the regulations, employers were required to submit annualized salary data to us. They would calculate the annualized salary for each of their employees. They would submit it to us and it would be aggregated and it would be sent to us in an aggregated form.
Now that we are moving to the concept and the use of pay transparency, we need to have an hourly wage rate in order to make those comparisons. So instead of the employers doing the annualization, they will submit the component parts of the salary and we can calculate the hourly wage and then display that on a public website.
Senator Pratte: How heavy a burden will that be for employers? I suppose it shouldn’t be that complicated, right?
Ms. Zagler: It shouldn’t be. In our conversations and discussions with our employers to date, some of the larger employers will have to make some systems changes, but some of our smaller employers will welcome the opportunity to not have to do all these calculations manually. So we’re not anticipating a large or an increased burden on employers, just a different type of requirement.
Senator Pratte: All right. Thank you.
The Chair: Any other questions?
Senator Andreychuk: If it’s going to be in regulations, and under the new measures you are going to get information about wage gaps that affect women, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities, visible minorities, it will be user-friendly, more accessible information about that and those are areas of concern have some equity.
My concern is that we do that, but we do it in such a way that it doesn’t identify individuals, so that it’s an aggregate way that you are going to continue to reach that, but you are going to somehow put it in those categories. I want to be sure that we’re not violating privacy while we’re reaching for information, even though it’s for a benefit of minority groups or otherwise.
Ms. Zagler: The privacy is not an issue because we’re rolling it up in an aggregate form. I will turn over to Sharmin. She worked in the U.K. implementing pay transparencies there and she’s working with us now and she’s handling a lot of this. I’ll ask her to take the floor and explain a little bit about that.
Sharmin Choudhury, Policy Analyst, Compliance, Operations, and Program Development Branch, Labour Program, Employment and Social Development Canada: We will be collecting employee-level information that will be rolled up to show the wage gaps across all those designated people; women, Aboriginal people, visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
Based on the model that we use in the U.K. currently, an overall wage gap percentage, we’ll be hoping to use that across the 14 different occupational groups under the Employment Equity Act as well.
In order to raise awareness that there might be wage gap issues within an organization, this will help show how progression and wage gaps are looking within an organization, just to give a better picture.
Senator Andreychuk: The Senate Human Rights Committee studied this area on the target groups that are under-represented and, obviously, are not equal in pay. The one difficulty we found was we had to be very careful, because in some of the groups they are self-identifying that we not go beyond that in collecting data, as it is their choice to be put in whatever aggregate form they want. That’s my concern, namely that there is a proper balance of getting the information, which we desperately need if we want to attack pay equity, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, protecting the individuals so that we don’t go beyond their privacy in the way we collect it.
Ms. Zagler: It is a fundamental principle of the Employment Equity Act that it’s voluntary self identification. It’s by their choice whether or not they ID in one of the groups. The data is collected at the employer level but, as I mentioned, it’s rolled up in an aggregate level for us. We won’t do anything to breach privacy. We have a privacy impact assessment in place. We are very cognizant of that. It’s very important in our field of work that individuals feel comfortable “self-IDing,” so we don’t want to do anything that would potentially break that trust.
Senator Klyne: So this will establish your baseline data with this new amendment?
Ms. Zagler: Yes.
Senator Klyne: Do you have any idea of the discrepancies on visible minorities and the like?
Ms. Zagler: Since we do it on an annualized basis, we do have some numbers. We do see that certain disadvantaged groups definitely are receiving less wages than others. However, on this hourly wage gap, no, we don’t. I’ll be quite honest with you. However, in the U.K., some of our employers are already reporting in the U.K., so they did have some information.
Senator Klyne: Is that where you will get your benchmarking from, the U.K.?
Ms. Zagler: No, we will use this as our own baseline just because the U.K. went out to 10,000 or 12,000 employers. It was across the board whereas we are just in the federally regulated —
Senator Klyne: What will you measure yourself against, the forward movement, closing the gap?
Ms. Zagler: Yes.
The Chair: If there are no further questions on Division 3, Part 4, we will say thank you to the officials. We will now move on to Division 4, Part 4, and the chair will call on Ms. Suzanne White to come to explain that particular measure.
Suzanne White, Director, Resources, Energy and Environment, Economic Development and Corporate Finance Branch, Department of Finance Canada: I am here to discuss the climate action support part of the Budget Implementation Act. These clauses will enable the Minister of Finance to specify a minister, such as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to requisition payments directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purposes and locations that would be specified by the Minister of Finance.
The purpose of the provision with the proposals is to allow for the return of a portion of the fuel charge in provinces that do not meet the federal standard for the carbon pollution pricing regime.
As context, in March 2019, the Governor-in-Council approved amendments to list Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick in Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act and thereby entered the fuel charge into force in these provinces on April 1, 2019.
Senator Marshall: Can you give us some dollar amounts? When you’re talking about the fuel charge and about how there’s so much going to be refunded and so much going out to small businesses, can you give us some numbers to indicate the magnitude and where the money is going?
Ms. White: Sure. The clauses follow an announcement by the government in October 2018 where the return of the projected estimated proceeds from the fuel charge would be directed. In terms of the provinces, there is a split according to the particularly affected for small and medium enterprises, as well as municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, Indigenous organizations and non-profit organizations. Within Ontario, the projected estimates at this point are $475 million over the next five years, starting in 2019-20. For Saskatchewan, it’s $150 million; in Manitoba it’s $60 million; and in New Brunswick it’s $22 million.
This will be the support that would go to the municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, Indigenous organizations and non-profits.
Senator Marshall: Just to make sure now I understand you, you’re citing some examples and you’re saying Ontario is going to receive $475 million over five years?
Ms. White: The revenue from the fuel charge is estimated to be around $475 million in Ontario and that will be directed towards those particular entities. There is another portion of funding that will be directed towards the small- and medium-sized enterprises also in those provinces. I have those figures here as well.
Senator Marshall: Could you give me those as well?
Ms. White: Sure. For small- and medium-sized enterprises in Ontario over the next five years, also the same period starting in 2019-20, it would be $975 million; $295 million in Saskatchewan; $130 million in Manitoba; and $55 million in New Brunswick.
Senator Marshall: How is that money going to be allocated out? Is that based on applications?
Ms. White: The details in terms of how the programming or the return will be provided to these entities has not yet been determined. At this point we are creating the legislative provisions to allow the minister to enable another minister to return the funds for these organizations. That’s what’s currently in the BIA.
Senator Marshall: Where will the criteria be defined? Is it in regulation or is it going to be policy?
Ms. White: The policies are being determined by Environment and Climate Change Canada as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the lead on this initiative. Unfortunately, my colleagues from Environment and Climate Change Canada couldn’t join us today.
Senator Pratte: One detail. I don’t understand why the Minister of Finance wants the authority to determine a certain number of ministers to give out that money. Why not have the Minister of Finance simply give out the money himself and that’s it? Why the need for a number of ministers to do that?
Ms. White: Under the current Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, only the Minister of Revenue is allowed to return revenues through the jurisdiction of their origin from the fuel charge. This legislation will allow the Minister of Finance to provide authority to other ministers to access those funds to return them to those jurisdictions.
Senator Pratte: Why several ministers? I’m sorry, I just don’t get this. If it’s the Minister of Revenue, then let the minister of revenue distribute those monies. Why do you need several ministers to allocate that money to municipalities and small businesses, and so on?
Ms. White: In terms of how the funding will be returned, it could be for other purposes than under the Income Tax Act. For instance, the previous senator referred to policies or programs. If the funding were to be created through some sort of a program dedicated towards Indigenous or municipalities, and it was to be operated by another minister besides the Minister of Revenue, for the purposes of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act that minister would not have the authority to return those revenues.
Senator Pratte: All right. Okay. Thank you.
Senator Andreychuk: I think your answer confused me more, so I’m going to follow up. I understand that when the Minister of Revenue disburses, according to the policy in the act that was going to allow for these rebates to these provinces and where it was to go. But now we’re going to another ministry. They will have some authority and we don’t know yet how it’s going to be. So we really don’t know who will get the money and on what criteria, correct?
Ms. White: That’s correct. The legislation will provide the Minister of Finance the authority to designate another minister as having that access for the purposes and the time period stipulated by the Minister of Finance.
Senator Andreychuk: Remind me again when this comes into force.
Ms. White: The fuel charge came into force on April 1, 2019.
Senator Andreychuk: So it’s come into force. We don’t know how it’s going to be disbursed, or to whom yet, but we have broad, general ideas; and we don’t know what the application process is going to be. So we have communities, municipalities, small businesses waiting to hear what and how it will impact them while they’re trying to survive in the businesses that they’re running.
Ms. White: To clarify, with the fuel charge proceeds, the funding is being returned not only through these particular sectors and groups but also through the climate payment incentives. These are the returns of funding to households through the tax system. That is what has already taken effect through the minister.
Senator Andreychuk: I should have mentioned that. We really don’t know where this is going to go. It’s all in the future, yet it’s in place and there’s an expectation. That’s a real problem. I live in Saskatchewan. I can’t answer the questions that I’m being asked. I hope that gets translated. In an uncertain economic environment as we face in Saskatchewan, this is just one more burden we don’t need. We need help. We don’t need this.
Tell me about big business. You talked about small and medium. I want to be sure I understand how big business factors in here.
Ms. White: In terms of the impact of the fuel charge on large sectors? Unfortunately, I am here to discuss the affected sectors. I will have to get back to you with a written response under that.
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you. I appreciate that.
The Chair: Ms. White, respond through the clerk, please, when you want to send information.
Ms. White: Yes.
Senator Forest: At this point, you have determined what organizations would receive those revenues, such as municipalities, school boards or small businesses. What criteria enabled you to decide what organizations will be affected by the revenues? Is there currently a breakdown that helps determine, for example, that municipalities will receive 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 50 per cent, or that school boards will receive 15 per cent, 20 per cent or 30 per cent? Have you broken down those revenues, and based on what criteria were those organizations selected?
Ms. White: At this point, as I discussed, this legislation will provide the authority to the Minister of Finance to enable other ministers to deliver the remittances, rebates — whatever the program will look like.
In terms of the determination for these particular sectors, the government has announced that we expect that these sectors will be affected. A portion of the proceeds will be set aside for return in those jurisdictions. The details of how those returns will take place, whether it’s through a rebate, are to be determined and they will be announced in the near future.
Senator Forest: In Quebec in particular, it is always a bit complicated when the federal government wants to give funding to municipalities because, usually, the provincial government wants to keep part of the funding being provided. Did you decide that this would be a program similar to the one on the gas tax transfer, which is very appreciated? Will it be a somewhat similar system that could be used to transfer those revenues to the municipalities?
Ms. White: Sorry, could you repeat that question?
Senator Forest: Certainly. The method used to return those revenues to the municipalities — We know that, when the federal government wants to transfer revenues to the municipalities, Quebec, as a province, prefers to take over the funding to allocate it itself. One of the systems that work very well is the gas tax transfer. Are you planning a similar system or is the money normally transferred directly to the municipalities?
Ms. White: At this point the details on how the funding will be returned, have not been specified. I would note that Quebec is not one of the jurisdictions that’s captured under the federal backstop. The funding we are looking at today would not apply to Quebec. I’m sure that considerations around the return, municipal, provincial, will be a factor in terms of designing and developing the policies, whether they be a rebate, remittance, or program.
Senator Forest: Thank you.
Senator Duncan: My question is seeking clarification. There are, of course, references throughout to the provinces or specified province. The territories — and I’m speaking from the Yukon experience only here — have the territorial formula finance funding arrangements. Rather than dealing with specific ministers such as Indigenous services, has the Minister of Finance made agreements with the territories and the money is being returned to the territories in that manner, or are we in the Yukon going through this, “Wait and see; we’re going to figure it out,” model.
Ms. White: At present, for the purposes of this legislation it’s only the provinces, which don’t include any of the territories, where the federal fuel charge will take place. In future, those arrangements between the government and the territories will be determined whether or not the federal backstop would apply or otherwise.
I believe in the Yukon the federal backstop, in terms of the return of these proceeds, would not apply at this time. I can get back to you with further clarification on that.
Senator Duncan: Because we’re not paying it?
Ms. White: In terms of the determination of whether you’re captured under the federal backstop. The federal backstop consists of two pieces: the fuel charge, which is administered by the Department of Finance; as well as an output based pricing system, which is administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada. So there are two components to it. The legislation here just pertains to the fuel charge proceeds, not the output pay system.
Senator Duncan: What I heard you say is what we’re looking at applies to the fuel surcharge and the provinces only.
Ms. White: It applies to the fuel charge that falls under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, so this is one half of the federal backstop for carbon pricing. The other is a pricing system administered by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. This legislation applies only to the return of proceeds under the fuel charge.
Senator Duncan: Right and only to the provinces.
Ms. White: Where that fuel charge would apply and what this legislation would do is provide the Minister of Finance the authority to allow other ministers to access funds out of the CRF in order to return it to jurisdictions of origin which, in theory, could apply to the territories if they were captured under the fuel charge regime.
Senator Duncan: Okay. Could I ask, through the clerk, then, for clarification on the capture of the fuel charge in the territories?
Ms. White: Sure. We have that information. I’m sorry, I just didn’t bring it with me.
The Chair: You will provide, Ms. White, through the clerk.
Ms. White: Yes.
Senator Marshall: I just want clarification. This goes back to Senator Pratte’s question. For the payments under Division 4 — I know you’re here to talk about climate action, support, but I thought that this issue also covered that payment of $2.2 billion to the municipalities and there’s money there for the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service and Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Have we got more witnesses coming?
The Chair: Yes. Those would be the next witnesses, Senator Marshall.
Senator Marshall: Okay. I’m getting ahead.
The Chair: If there are no more questions for Ms. White, to you, madam, thank you very much. You were very informative. Carrying on with the same section, Division 4, Part 4, we will call upon the following witnesses: Infrastructure Canada and Natural Resources Canada. To the witnesses from Infrastructure Canada and Natural Resources Canada, please identify yourselves for the record.
Nathalie Lechasseur, Director General, Programs Integration, Infrastructure Canada: Good afternoon. I am Nathalie Lechasseur, Director General, Programs Integration. I am joined by my colleague Nicole Thomas, Director of Finance. I will talk to you about the Gas Tax Fund.
I am here to talk to you about clause 130 of Bill C-97, which proposes to provide communities with a one-time transfer of $2.2 billion. That funding would primarily be delivered through a program called the Gas Tax Fund. The Gas Tax Fund was launched in 2005. It provides the municipalities with a long-term, permanent, predictable and indexed funding source of about $2.2 billion. That fund enables the construction and rehabilitation of core public infrastructure. Communities have the possibility to make strategic investments in 18 different project categories to meet their needs, including roads, bridges, public transit, and water and waste water infrastructure.
The fund favours investments to increase productivity and economic growth. It also aims to promote a clean environment, and strong cities and communities. The Gas Tax Fund is administered through agreements with signatories. It is allocated on a per capita basis. Therefore, under the program, the funding is provided from the outset to the provinces and territories that are its signatories. Afterwards, provinces are in charge of allocating the funding to various communities.
Thank you. I am ready to answer your questions.
The Chair: Ms. Henry, I’ll now call on you to make your presentation, and then we will follow with questions.
Joyce Henry, Director General, Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada: I’m here to speak to you about the proposal that provides $1.01 billion to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to make buildings and houses more energy efficient and to improve strategic infrastructure decisions, which my colleague Nathalie is going to help me with.
Clause 131 in Division 4 of Part 4 is made up of !four subclauses. They provide authorization for payment to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund and asset management fund. They allow the Government of Canada to enter into an agreement that establishes the terms and conditions for use of this funding.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is a long-standing partner of the federal government to deliver programs that provide environmental benefits at the municipal level. They are the national voice of municipal governments and their membership includes more than 2,000 municipalities of all sizes, including urban, rural and northern communities from coast to coast to coast.
The proposal itself provides $950 million in additional funds to the Green Municipal Fund as follows: $300 million for sustainable affordable housing innovation; $300 million for community eco-efficiency acceleration to advance home retrofits and innovative financing mechanisms; and $350 million to fund Low Carbon Cities Canada and collaborate on community climate action to improve energy efficiency in large buildings.
The objective of the Green Municipal Fund is to contribute to environmental benefits for Canadians by offering grants and loans for environmental municipal projects in the key areas of energy, water, waste, sustainable transportation and brownfields. The Budget 2019 funding will focus on opportunities specifically to advance energy efficiency in the built environment.
The proposal also provides $60 million in additional funding to support the infrastructure development activities of the Asset Management Fund. The Asset Management Fund is supported by a contribution agreement between the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This fund supports municipal-level capacity building for managing assets and improving strategic infrastructure investment decisions. New investments will contribute to smart infrastructure investments in support of environmentally and financially sustainable communities.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I’ll start off with the $2.2 billion. That’s a substantial sum of money going out and it’s going to go out in the current fiscal year. Can you give us some information on it? Why is that going out in one big lump sum like that? I know it’s going to different municipalities, but is that because the infrastructure program is slow getting money out the door?
Ms. Lechasseur: Thank you for the question. The Gas Tax Fund greatly benefits municipalities whose needs are also very great. To that effect, the $2.2 billion could further support municipalities on a one-time basis.
Senator Marshall: We don’t see this every year. This is the first year we’ve seen large amounts. I just want you to tell me if I’m right or wrong. What it looks like is the infrastructure program was slow getting money out the door. Is the objective to get the money out there and to get it working?
Ms. Lechasseur: The Gas Tax Fund is a very useful tool to enable us to fund municipal infrastructure. Right now, programs are already in place. Agreements are signed with all of our partners, the provinces and territories, through the Invest Canada Fund. We are ready to fund various infrastructure and have already approved a number of projects.
Senator Marshall: So it’s based on approved projects? You’re saying it’s not earlier per capita? The money just doesn’t go out as a gift; it has to have an application for individual projects, doesn’t it?
Ms. Lechasseur: Absolutely not. The Gas Tax Fund is available now to fund municipalities. I talked to you earlier about the Invest Canada Fund, thanks to which we have concluded pre-established agreements.
You asked me why I thought the funding was not distributed as quickly as planned. We already have agreements in place. We are ready to receive projects. However, the Gas Tax Fund is available for municipalities now, with a one-time investment of $2.2 billion.
Senator Marshall: Does the money go out to the municipalities or does it go to the provinces to distribute to the municipalities?
Ms. Lechasseur: It goes to the provinces.
Senator Marshall: And then the province will allocate it to the municipalities based on the projects that they’ve selected?
Ms. Lechasseur: No. The money is based on one allocation. In the case of the $2.2-billion one-time funding, we provide the funding based on the allocation and the 2011 census. Then the provinces directly allocate the funding to the municipalities, in compliance with their allocation formula.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
How is the $1 billion to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities administered? Is the money given to the federation as one lump sum and they allocate it?
Ms. Henry: That’s right. The Green Municipal Fund already exists. It was originally endowed in 2000 by the federal government. There was an additional sum added to that last year, I believe, and then this is another additional sum focused specifically on energy efficiency.
It goes into the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, assuming the budget proposal passes; that has to happen first. From there, the Green Municipal Fund has a specific governance structure. I can give you a bit more information on that, if you wish. It has an 18-member council that reviews projects that come forward. They are meant to be innovative projects. There are six federal members on it, including Nathalie and I, but there are also members directly from municipalities and the private sector with specialized knowledge and expertise.
Senator Marshall: Does the federation decide where the money is allocated based on the application?
Ms. Henry: That’s right. There’s an application process depending on how the program is set up and they have a number of different programs underneath it. They do both loans and grants, and there’s a formula around that and there are certain selection criteria that are put forward in that.
Senator Marshall: How does the federation ensure that the money is spread around equitably? I represent a small province. What assurance is there that the smaller provinces get their share?
Ms. Henry: That’s actually written directly into the agreement that the federal government has with the federation. It has to be allotted equitably.
Senator Pratte: My question is about the Gas Tax Fund. I know that municipalities really appreciate it because it is very flexible and less complex than other programs. If we exclude the $2.2-billion payment, how much money does the Gas Tax Fund provide annually for Canadian municipalities?
Ms. Lechasseur: It’s also $2.2 billion annually.
Senator Pratte: That doubles the amount for the current fiscal year. Does the Government of Canada have specific indications or monitor the type of projects and the quality of projects funded by the municipalities under this program?
Ms. Lechasseur: Under the program and based on the 18 categories, provinces are in charge of selection and must report what they have achieved through those projects once they are completed.
Senator Pratte: Every year, do you have a good idea of the program category where the money is spent?
Ms. Lechasseur: Yes.
Senator Pratte: Is that report made public at some point or is it available somewhere?
Ms. Lechasseur: The territories and provinces must report to us, but we can confirm whether the information is available publicly. In general, the information is publicly available based on the information the provinces send us.
Senator Pratte: You are saying that the needs are great. So the logic behind that money duplication provided under the fund is that you have noted that the needs were so great that the money provided under that program was not enough to meet the needs?
Ms. Lechasseur: We didn’t need that program to know that the needs are great. We see it generally, but indeed, the Gas Tax Fund was available. It was a tool that was already used and that has the support of municipalities.
Senator Pratte: How much does the gas tax bring to the Government of Canada annually?
Ms. Lechasseur: I don’t know. The Gas Tax Fund is a name. It does not come directly from the gas tax.
Senator Pratte: I did not know that. Does it come from the public purse?
Ms. Lechasseur: Yes, it does.
Senator Forest: You will understand that I am particularly interested in this part. The gas tax transfer fund, which was introduced by Paul Martin in 2005, is partially taken from the gas tax transfer. That is no longer the case now. Municipalities appreciate that program. To complete the answer, Senator Marshall, we must provide the province with an action plan on infrastructure. That may be the element for which the criteria have been somewhat expanded, especially for drinking water, waste water and roads, once the work is completed. So we are talking about an action plan that would not exist without the gas tax transfer, which is per capita based and is, therefore, a redistribution with a threshold for all small municipalities. Often, they do not have the capacity required to undertake work, as all municipalities must use part of their budget to fund that core infrastructure.
Is community infrastructure currently eligible based on the 18-category list? The case of supply in drinking water, waste water, yards and roads had to be resolved, for example. Is community infrastructure — such as cultural centres, libraries, arenas — now eligible?
Ms. Lechasseur: Thank you for your question. What you told us is specific to Quebec. Each province has a very specific program. Quebec has established various priorities in its action plan. Recreation infrastructure is eligible under the 18 categories, as the fund was expanded to 18 categories. To know specifically, for example, whether libraries are eligible, we need to look —
Senator Forest: In the chapter.
Ms. Lechasseur: Of course, Quebec decided to have an action plan with priorities to meet first.
Senator Forest: In fact, the envelope is being doubled. So it is going from $2.2 billion to $4.4 billion, right?
Ms. Lechasseur: On a one-time basis.
Senator Forest: On a one-time basis for this year. Is the additional $2.2 billion subject to the exact same rules at the federal level as the rules specific to each province, or will these rules be substantially different?
Ms. Lechasseur: The rules should be the same. Allocation formulas are included in our agreement. So the provinces could allocate the money based on those formulas.
Senator Forest: So it is not done through calls for projects, but on a per capita basis?
Ms. Lechasseur: Yes.
Senator Forest: Is the required municipal participation level 50 per cent, as in the case of the gas tax transfer?
Ms. Lechasseur: I could not tell you. We distribute the funding per capita, so it is distributed to the provinces based on the census. Afterwards, each province has its own allocation formula.
Senator Forest: At the outset, the amount was distributed directly to the municipalities.
Ms. Lechasseur: Yes.
Senator Forest: Over time, the provinces intercepted that money and funded projects, through capital and interests, by refunding based on annuities, which changed the program quite a bit. Do you know whether that $2.2 billion will follow the same rule?
Ms. Lechasseur: I was not aware of that rule. As far as I understand, our rule is that we submit the money to the province, which transfers it to the municipalities.
Senator Duncan: You mentioned several times that funds are distributed on a per capita basis in the 2011 census and so on and so forth. Could we have that breakdown by province submitted through the clerk? If you have it by the municipality as well, I’d appreciate receiving that. By province and territory.
Ms. Lechasseur: We have it by province and by territory, but for municipalities, the provinces and territories are in charge of the funding.
Senator Duncan: If you have that. If we could have it, that would be great.
Senator Forest: I just have a quick question about the Green Fund. When it comes to innovation in affordable housing, what kind of a project are you planning? Are any communities underusing the Green Fund, which is pretty innovative and relevant in dealing with the challenges we are facing in terms of sustainable development and the environment. When it comes to affordable housing more specifically, what kind of initiative or project are you thinking of?
Ms. Henry: What we envision under this particular envelope is threefold, in line with broader government priorities on energy efficiency. That includes a move to, for new housing, more net zero buildings. The federal government is working with building and construction stakeholders, provinces and territories, municipalities, a wide variety of different groups to put in place a model code for net zero housing. It will be published in 2022 to hopefully be put in place by all provinces and territories by 2030. That’s one of the pieces that will form a part of the thinking around how this money is used.
The other piece is with respect to existing buildings. There’s also a new code being developed for existing buildings in order to raise standards of energy efficiency on them. It’s another priority that would be taken into account here.
The third component that I would mention is with respect to the equipment and appliances in those buildings. Obviously, we want to drive to the highest energy efficiency standards for those. We presently have aspirational goals towards much more energy-efficient appliances and equipment and that would also be taken into account, in particular through the innovation portion of that, what innovation would look like.
As a result of those, that data would then be used to push forward towards increased energy efficiency over time. One of the things that the FCM is prioritizing recently is replicability and scaleability in their projects, especially in innovative projects. That is something we would also expect to see as part of the terms and conditions on the program.
That is largely still being developed. Obviously, the funds haven’t flown yet, but that’s part of the thinking around this funding.
Senator Forest: As part of that collaboration, your main partner, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is very relevant. The fact remains that, ultimately, the municipality is the authority that carries out the projects, begins the projects and requests funding. As part of your reflection, when it comes to targets and types of projects, you must ensure to properly consult municipalities, and not only the large ones, but often, the issue with the programs is that small municipalities have very significant needs, given their reality. There are even municipalities that have no drinking water treatment system or that have difficulty obtaining basic services. Do you ensure that the more local or territorial municipalities have their say? Familiarity with those large associations is needed and, often, small municipalities don’t even have the means to participate. Do you make sure to reach and hear from those small communities that have very few resources, but also have needs, considering their population and the challenges everyone must meet in terms of sustainable development?
Ms. Henry: You’re right; that is a real issue. It’s one the FCM is quite seized with.
There are provisions built into the renewed funding agreement for increased capacity building and outreach. That includes for small municipalities. As I mentioned earlier, there are provisions within the agreement that we have with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ensure an equitable distribution to small municipalities in all parts of the country.
I would also just note that the other members of the council are often from very small municipalities. We actually have someone from Newfoundland. I can’t remember the exact name of the town, but she’s from a really tiny municipality, and she’s a very vocal member of the council. She speaks up for small communities, and she regularly raises some of the issues that we need to be thinking about in the allotment.
Just with respect to wastewater and other things, this money is for energy efficiency, specifically, but there is already funding in that envelope for wastewater as one of the streams.
Senator Forest: One of the program features that was being requested for a long time — and I was wondering whether that was currently the case — was for the FCM to have sufficient resources to support those small municipalities. Let’s just think of the challenges related to waste water and to providing a backstop to the consultants hired by those municipalities, which have a secretary-treasurer, but no civil or technical engineering specialist. Many representations were made for the FCM, with provincial federations, to be able to have certain resources to support those small municipalities. Is that currently possible?
Ms. Henry: My understanding is that those resources do exist. Because there are a large number of small communities and are at different parts of their climate action plans or different components of what they’re trying to tackle, they do need to prioritize. It can be more difficult for them, but certainly the Green Municipal Fund staff work very hard on that. They work very closely with municipalities, including, and maybe in particular, small municipalities.
I think this is something that they’re very aware of and seized with.
From our perspective, one of the benefits of the funding flowing into the FCM is that they are in touch with all of their members, of all sizes, including the smaller ones.
Senator Forest: Do you think those resources exist?
Ms. Henry: Yes.
Senator Forest: Do you know where?
Ms. Lechasseur: Under the budget, an additional $60 million was requested to help municipalities manage their staff. Municipalities have access to that funding.
Senator Forest: Rules for granting government contracts for municipalities must be understood. When engineering firms in Quebec are questioned, there must be a committee of three non-elected individuals, and municipalities often don’t even have three employees. Some municipalities are in very precarious situations when it comes to the imposed requirements. Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I have one quick question. Will the $2.2 billion be paid out as soon as the estimates are approved and the budget is approved? That will be immediate, will it? It will go out? Yes, okay.
What about the money to the federation? Does that go out immediately, too? So early July, most likely?
Ms. Henry: The first step is, obviously, that the budget bill be passed. Then the agreement is that it would flow, at the latest, by October 31. But the idea is that we would move that as quickly as possible.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
The Chair: To the witnesses, thank you very much.
Now I will call on witnesses to complete Division 4 of Part 4. From Public Safety Canada, we have Martin Joyal.
Martin Joyal, Senior Director, Policy and Programs Development, Emergency Management and Program Branch, Public Safety Canada: I am Martin Joyal, from the Department of Public Safety in Ottawa, Senior Director of Policy and Programs Development at the Emergency Management and Program Branch. Honourable senators, I am here to talk to you about subclauses 132(1) and 132(2) of the 2019 budget implementation bill.
Two portions of the budget proposes to provide the Minister of Public Safety with the authority to enter into a grant agreement with Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service and also to provide the same minister with $65 million toward that agreement. STARS is a not-for-profit agreement in Western Canada that provides critical emergency services in the form of air ambulance services. It operates in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of eastern B.C. The $65 million would be a one-time payment, and it would be for the purchase of helicopters with the purpose of renewing the STARS fleet.
It is in line with the Government of Canada’s priorities as outlined and approved through the recently announced Emergency Management Strategy for Canada that federal, provincial and territorial ministers approved in January. It seeks to identify and address gaps or imminent gaps in our emergency management posture across the country. Fundamentally, this grant will allow STARS to fundamentally accelerate its fleet renewal; whereas, through the fundraising campaign that they have ongoing right now, the projected total renewal was expected to be in the 2030 period. This will make it happen in the next three years through securing funds through the federal government in this proposed budget.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: Thank you very much. Can you tell us something about the aircraft in the fleet? It sounds like you will have an entirely new fleet of aircraft.
Mr. Joyal: There are currently 11 aircraft in the fleet. It consists of eight Airbus BK117s and three AgustaWestland AW139s. Through independent outside expert advice on the state of its current fleet — the 11 aircraft in question — and the age of the current fleet, it was proposed that going to a nine-aircraft platform — single aircraft — you would be able to greatly increase flight times, et cetera. It’s through this that the board of directors started into a capital-raising campaign to try to get to the nine aircraft that are the same aircraft. It’s easier for training, and with new aircraft, there’s less downtime, less repair, et cetera.
Senator Marshall: How is it organized? Is it in one central location and it serves several provinces?
Mr. Joyal: It serves Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and parts of British Columbia. It has six bases: three in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba, as far as I understand. They fly out of those six bases.
The 11 helicopters that will, in the next three years, become —
Senator Marshall: And each province maintains its own mini-fleet?
Mr. Joyal: This is a not-for-profit organization, but they have operating agreements with the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, which provides them the operational funding through fundraising and those agreements with provinces — it’s the operating, training, salaries, et cetera. The funding the federal government is proposing through this proposal is only capital for the helicopters — for five aircraft.
Senator Marshall: Thank you very much.
Senator Duncan: Thank you very much for the explanation. I am a senator from the Yukon. In a past life, I had a significant amount of experience with medical air transportation and the problems. From my years of watching Saskatchewan television, I’m also familiar with the STARS program and the fundraising efforts.
Is there any kind of initiative or talks going on to expand your services to any of the three northern territories? In particular, of course, I’d be interested in the Yukon and Kluane National Park, for example.
Mr. Joyal: I hesitate to speak on behalf of STARS. But if I can go with the discussions we’ve had with STARS, they are extremely proud of what they do and would welcome others to come and see how best they can help. I’ve heard that, but I really wouldn’t want to speak on their behalf.
I know that they are in other jurisdictions on more of the training and some of the lessons learned, less maybe on direct operations. I know that they’re in those talks as well, but again I wouldn’t want to speak to them expanding, or their ability or capacity to expand beyond what they have right now, with the fleet that they’re looking to have in the next three years.
Senator Duncan: This $65 million contribution. You mentioned service to Indigenous communities. Is part of that money coming from Indigenous services and a blend of departments, or is it just a $65 million one-time contribution from this department?
Mr. Joyal: It’s $65 million, but the proposed $65 million is just from the consolidated to the Minister of Public Safety to enter into an agreement with STARS. It’s for capital. It’s for five helicopters. In talking with STARS, a lot of the mission and incidents that they are called to provide direct service to local Indigenous communities.
Senator Duncan: Indigenous services should be responsible for that medical transportation. Just for the record. Thank you.
Senator Andreychuk: I’m glad you understand the importance, Senator Duncan.
I have to admit my conflict. I live in an apartment where STARS comes nightly. When I moved there — the noise. But I realized every time they landed some life was either saved or being transported back. All of a sudden it’s a comfort to me, not the other.
They provide services because we’re losing hospitals in small towns, doctors are not there and the time to get to a proper facility in Saskatchewan — and I think Manitoba and Alberta are the same — by car, trying to get an ambulance, keeping ambulance services are all necessary, but they are on the decline. STARS fills a gap that is absolutely essential to services. It’s getting someone from an accident site to the right hospital at the right time in very short order. We can only look at the Humboldt Broncos. It happens daily.
While I’m very supportive of this $65 million and we’ve been saying they need to upgrade their fleet, they need to be even stronger in our communities. It is curious that it is a not-for-profit supported by the province and this is an injection. I think this whole thing should be revisited. It is probably the best money we can spend at this table. Please convey that to them.
I usually do it with dollars, but you can do it in person. That would be helpful. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Andreychuk.
Senator Klyne: I too support STARS. You might find comfort in my proximity — I’m close to highway No. 1 and I hate to see them flying over, to tell you the truth. It means they are going somewhere serious. At the same time, I get the other good side of that.
There are six, I’ll say bases, and each has one or two?
Mr. Joyal: It’s nine distributed over six, so some would have one, some would have two.
Senator Klyne: This is buying how many? Is this $65 million going towards —
Mr. Joyal: The $65 million would be to purchase five for, in total, nine in the end. The other four are the one through the operation agreement with Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan is providing for the cost of one helicopter. The Government of Alberta is providing for the cost of another one. The other two should be through STARS’ own community fundraising as well as the sale of the outgoing fleet and the revenue generated from that.
Senator Klyne: I’d be interested to see what the whole makeup of this is. I know there are private donation and provincial donations. The charity funds, I’m sure, are very successful in raising money.
The reference to it having to cease 24-7 operation by 2020 unless they go through this renewal. Is that the idea?
Mr. Joyal: Eight out of the 11 in the fleet have been declared a legacy aircraft by the manufacturer. You have to go to other markets to find the parts. The repair and maintenance time. It just speaks to more downtime for the actual craft as opposed to at the ready on the tarmac ready to be deployed.
Senator Klyne: I didn’t think they were that aged. Maybe we should have them have a look at our Sea King helicopters.
The Chair: Honourable senators, Division 4 of Part 4 is completed. Mr. Joyal, thank you.
Now we will move on to Division 6 of Part 4. The chair will recognize from Employment and Social Development Canada, Ms. Marianna Giordano.
Marianna Giordano, Director, CPP Policy and Legislation, Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat, Income Security and Social Development Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada: Good afternoon. I am Marianna Giordano, Director, CPP Policy and Legislation. Today, I am here to talk to you about proposed changes to the Canada Pension Plan.
Under the current Canada Pension Plan legislation, an individual must apply for their retirement pension in order to receive it. A small but significant minority of eligible seniors currently missed receiving retirement pension payments because they apply late or not at all. These individuals tend to be people who had a weak labour force attachment and thus low retirement income.
The modifications proposed in clauses 153 to 155 will help change the Canada Pension Plan, so that, as of 2020, eligible seniors who have not yet begun to receive their retirement pension from the Canada Pension Plan would be automatically enrolled when they reach the age of 70. Automatic enrolment will apply only to individuals for whom the government has the necessary information to begin payments.
The proposal will prevent individuals, many of whom have low income, from missing out on CPP benefits for which they made contributions and are entitled to receive. This proposal would allow up to 40,000 people over the age of 70 to begin receiving their CPP retirement pension for the first time in 2020. Two thirds of these seniors are women.
In addition, an estimated 1600 people each year could receive a CPP retirement pension that they otherwise would not receive. Rising to nearly 2000 per 2030. I’d like to add that the average benefit amount for these individuals is estimated at $300 per month, and this will not have any impact on the legislative contribution rate that is presently in place. I’m happy to answer any of your questions.
Senator Marshall: You are saying there are 40,000 people. You say you’re going to do it in 2020. Is it possible to do it earlier than that?
Ms. Giordano: Unfortunately, to gather that information for the systems to be ready, we cannot do it earlier than that. It will be in 2020.
Senator Marshall: Will you be making those payments retroactive?
Ms. Giordano: Right now there will be a possibility of up to 12 months of retroactivity. If you are 70 in six months, you will get six months of retroactivity up to age 70. If you are 73, you will get 12 months of retroactivity.
Senator Marshall: Why would it not go right back to age 65?
Ms. Giordano: The way the Canada Pension Plan is structured, the normal age of retirement is 65, you’re correct, but you can take your pension as early as age 60 with an actuarial factor that will penalize you of 36 per cent. Or you can wait until age 70 and get an actuarial factor that will be compensating you of 42 per cent.
Therefore, we’re going to age 70 to give them the maximum actuarial factor they can benefit from.
Senator Marshall: If it was somebody 85 years old you’re only going to go back one year?
Ms. Giordano: That’s correct, it would be as if they had applied today. They would get 12 months retroactivity.
Senator Marshall: You won’t go back to age 65 or 70?
Ms. Giordano: No, we’re not going back to age 70.
Senator Marshall: Thank you. That seems kind of unfair.
Senator Pratte: I would like to understand the figures. First, you say that 40,000 people will be affected at the outset. Every year, 1,600 people will be added to that?
Ms. Giordano: Yes. Right now, the 40,000 individuals are those who have not applied. Those are people who will turn 70 years old in 2020, as well as people aged 72, 74 or 75 who have never applied. In 2020, we will have a population base we will have to pay for. Afterwards, it will be people 70 years of age for whom the minister has enough information.
Senator Pratte: That was actually my second question. What does “have enough information” mean?
Ms. Giordano: In the legislation, it says that an individual must be a contributor to the Canada Pension Plan, must be aged 70, must be entitled to Old Age Security or another Canada Pension Plan benefit, and/or they must have completed a tax return the previous year.
Senator Forest: Or the Quebec Pension Plan.
Ms. Giordano: Or the Quebec Pension Plan, you are right.
Senator Pratte: So the person must have filed a tax return?
Ms. Giordano: If a person isn’t registered for the Quebec pension plan or with Employment and Social Development Canada for Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan, that person needs to have filed a tax return. This information is necessary in order to know whether the person is still alive, to be able to send them the payment.
Senator Pratte: Okay, good.
Senator Forest: I have a brief question that relates to my colleague’s question, given the points that you mentioned to identify a person who is 70 years old and who won’t apply, but who will register automatically. By the way, this is an excellent measure. At this time, 40,000 people are entitled to the Canada Pension Plan but don’t benefit from it. According to these criteria, whether they’ve contributed or they’re 70 years old, or they’re Old Age Security or Quebec pension plan recipients, how many people will be left out of the system?
Ms. Giordano: I think we’ll probably find most people. I couldn’t tell you the exact number of people who could be left out. They could be people who came to work in Canada for a year or two and then left the country. It’s very difficult to locate these people because they make a contribution or two and then we don’t see them again for 40 or 50 years.
Senator Forest: According to your estimates and with the information that you requested, let’s take the case of Canadians born in Canada, who have lived and worked here all their lives. Based on the Pareto law, will we be able to reach about 80 per cent of this labour force?
Ms. Giordano: Yes, especially if most people receive Old Age Security benefits. We know that most people will receive Old Age Security benefits, which is very important in all provinces and territories. The people who receive Old Age Security are often women — and we’ll see fewer of them as things progress — who have worked, who have married and who haven’t returned to the labour market. They often receive a survivor pension from their spouse and they think that it’s their pension. These people don’t know the difference between Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan. These people often think that they’re receiving everything to which they’re entitled. However, they’re receiving only a small amount in relation to the amount to which they’re entitled. As women increasingly return to the labour market and become more aware of their rights and contributions, they’ll receive these contributions in return.
Senator Forest: That’s an excellent measure. The goal is to leave out as few people as possible, since they’re entitled to these benefits.
Ms. Giordano: Yes.
Senator Klyne: Some of my questions were just answered, so the only thing I’m curious about, more than anything, is why someone who proactively enrolled would decline to receive it. Is it getting clawed back anyway?
Ms. Giordano: Someone may decline to receive it because, for example, they are on the verge of a certain threshold for a provincial benefit, such a housing supplement or something similar. As an example, if they are receiving a $50 per month from the Canada Pension Plan and that triggers them not having that benefit, then it may outweigh the amount of the pension plan.
In the present regulations, there is one that allows beneficiaries to cancel their benefit within six months of receiving it, and this measure will also amend regulations to extend that to 12 months.
Senator Klyne: Thank you.
Senator Duncan: This is an excellent measure to track folks down who would otherwise fall through the cracks. My concern is that you’ll be sending out cheques as opposed to the option to use direct deposit, I would think. Is that correct?
Ms. Giordano: We will try to use direct deposit as much as we can. We’ll have information-sharing agreements with Canada Revenue Agency to have their banking information and be able to direct deposit as many as we can.
Senator Duncan: So we wouldn’t miss a senior who has, perhaps, moved into residential care in the interim between filing their taxes and the issuance of this cheque or this payment through direct deposit?
Ms. Giordano: No, they wouldn’t miss them through the direct deposit.
Senator Duncan: My concern is about those not on direct deposit or might not have taken the right steps to protect their bank accounts.
Ms. Giordano: For those not on direct deposit, we would write to them to get their direct deposit information.
Senator Duncan: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: Senator Duffy, about six months ago, said there were 88,000 pensioners with poverty-level income who qualified for the GIS but weren’t receiving it. Do you have anything to do with the GIS?
Ms. Giordano: No. The GIS is under the Old Age Security Act so it’s not part of this measure.
Senator Marshall: I’ll raise that with someone else. I think this measure you’re talking about today is excellent, but I would like you to consider making it fully retroactive.
Ms. Giordano: I would have to make it fully retroactive for everyone.
Senator Marshall: That’s a good idea.
Senator Forest: There’s 12 months of retroactivity. Suppose that I’m identified, I’m 73 years old — which isn’t the case yet — and I come back for 12 months. If you give me too much money, are you entitled to the same time limit to collect the money from me? After 12 months, it’s over?
Ms. Giordano: If I give you too much money, you’re asking me how long I have to collect it?
Senator Forest: Yes. Do you apply the same rule as for retroactivity?
Ms. Giordano: If I give you too much money, you’ll owe the Crown. No, I don’t have a time limit of 12 months to get that money back.
Senator Forest: The Crown won’t owe me if over 12 months have passed.
Ms. Giordano: The Crown won’t owe you anything.
Senator Forest: Because it’s the Crown.
Ms. Giordano: At this time, the provision requiring an application is being eliminated. We’re told that the minister can exempt any person from the requirement to submit a registration application if that person is 70 years of age or older.
In a way, it’s considered the date of the application. Since the Canada Pension Plan provides 12 months of retroactivity, we can go up to 12 months, or up to age 70, to ensure that the person receives the maximum benefit from actuarial factors.
Senator Forest: On the other hand, there’s no time limit.
Ms. Giordano: There’s no time limit to collect overpayments. However, arrangements can be made. The legislation also contains provisions in the event that people can’t make payments.
The Chair: Honourable senators, this concludes the measures in Division 6 or Part 4. Now we will move on to the measures in Division 7 of Part 4. Our next presenter is Mr. Kevin Wagdin. Would you please introduce yourself and then make your presentation?
Kevin Wagdin, Manager, Legislation and Litigation, Old Age Security Policy and Public Pensions Statistics, Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat, Employment and Social Development Canada: Good afternoon. Clause 156 of Part 4 amends the Old Age Security Act to enhance the guaranteed income supplements’ earnings extension. The Guaranteed Income Supplement, or GIS for short, is a benefit paid to Old Age Security pensioners. It’s based on income to ensure that the benefits are targeted towards those most in need. The GIS earnings exemption currently allows low-income seniors to earn up to $3,500 per year income per year in employment income without seeing a reduction in their GIS benefit. However, self-employment income does not currently qualify for the exemption. The proposed amendments would increase the GIS earnings exemption from $3,500 to $5,000. It would extend the exemption to self-employment income, and it would provide an additional 50 per cent exemption on up to $10,000 of employment or self-employment income beyond the $5,000 exemption.
We expect that this exemption would take effect in July 2020, and we estimate that approximately 330,000 low-income seniors could benefit from this measure, at an initial annual cost of $460 million. We also believe that the average benefit increase that our beneficiaries would see is about $1,400 per year.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I only have one question. Why July 2020? That’s more than a year away.
Mr. Wagdin: That’s very much in line with what my colleague just mentioned. There are some implementation issues that we have to address. We have to make sure our IT systems work effectively. We pay the GIS in a July to June payment period, so we will be beginning with the July 2020 payment period which would take into account this year, 2019 income.
Senator Marshall: That will be effective for this taxation year?
Mr. Wagdin: It will be in effect for the July 2020 payment period which takes into account 2019 income.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
Senator Pratte: I’m just curious as to why there was no exemption for self-employment income. What was the rationale behind that?
Mr. Wagdin: The rationale in previous years had been that individuals who were self-employed are able to invoke deductions to reduce their self-employment income and that could have been seen as double-dipping. However, this measure recognizes that self-employed individuals must also incur work-related costs to earn their income, and the income is used for expenses that are not at their disposal. From an equity perspective, it was thought it would be good to expand the exemption at this time.
Senator Pratte: You said the initial cost would be $406 million. That would be for year one?
Mr. Wagdin: That’s right.
Senator Pratte: Do you expect this to increase over time?
Mr. Wagdin: We do. We expect it to gradually reach a peak cost of $482 million in 2026-27 as our clientele increases, but we projected that it would reduce thereafter.
Senator Pratte: It would reduce thereafter.
Mr. Wagdin: Gradually reduce as the number of our client base reduces as well.
Senator Pratte: Thank you.
The Chair: Any other questions, senators? If not, this concludes Division 7, Part 4. Thank you, Mr. Wagdin.
We will now move on to Division 8, Part 4. The chair will recognize Treasury Board Secretariat, Mr. Simon Crabtree and Mr. Jean-François Charest. Please introduce yourselves for the record.
I have been informed, Mr. Crabtree, you will be making the comments and then questions will follow.
Simon Crabtree, Executive Director, Pensions and Benefits Sector, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: Thank you. Good afternoon, senators. I’m here with my colleague Jean-François Charest. Today, we are here to speak about amendments to the surplus limits supplied in each of the legislation governing the three main public sector pension plans from its current 10 per cent to 25 per cent of the amount of liabilities.
Increasing the surplus limit to 25 per cent of the amount of liabilities enables the government to build a larger surplus into its pension funds and to decrease the risk of future funding deficiencies. These amendments bring the pension plan surplus limit in line with the 25 per cent surplus limit already set out under the Income Tax Act limit. This applies to other federally regulated pension plans in Canada and has done so since 2010.
That concludes my presentation.
The Chair: Thank you.
Any senators with questions? If not, this concludes Division 8, Part 4. Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Charest, that was easy. You did a great job.
Now we will move on to Division 9, Part 4, subdivision (a). The chair will recognize Mr. Brennen Young, Director, Policy and Strategic Planning Division, Regulatory Affairs Sector.
Brennen Young, Director, Policy and Strategic Planning Division, Regulatory Affairs Sector, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: I’m here to talk to you about the regulatory modernization aspects of the BIA.
The Government of Canada is actively pursuing a regulatory modernization agenda to ensure that the regulatory framework promotes competitiveness and economic growth, while continuing to protect the health and safety of Canadians.
Some components of the regulatory modernization agenda were announced in the fall 2018 economic statement. This key initiative shows the government’s commitment to introducing an annual regulatory modernization bill starting in 2019. The bill must include legislative amendments that will enable federal regulators to modernize and eliminate obsolete regulatory requirements and practices associated with federal legislation, and reduce unnecessary barriers to business investment and innovation.
In order to meet the Fall Economic Statement commitment to introduce an annual regulatory modernization bill in 2019, TBS moved quickly with a call-out to departments in December 2018. Consistent with the focus of the feds in 2018, we saw proposed amendments with an economic competitiveness and an efficiency focus.
The first bill proposes changes to 12 acts ranging from transportation to pest control, textile labelling and electricity and gas inspection, amongst others. The proposed amendments were submitted by TBS by the relevant regulatory departments and agencies. You’ll see that there are a number of subdivisions to this section of the bill. My colleagues from the other departments are here with me and will be able to present their amendments and answer any of your questions.
A number of the bills have been farmed out to other Senate committees for study, so there aren’t 12 acts being studied here but for those that are, all of the colleagues from departments are here. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Young. For subdivision (a), entitled Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, we will hear from Mr. Paul Morrison from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
Paul Morrison, Manager, Policy Development (Insolvency), Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Thank you very much, senator.
The amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act cover two discrete areas to promote administrative efficiency and reduce regulatory burden on the licensed insolvency trustee community. The Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act currently creates administrative burden for many licensed insolvency trustees by requiring them to renew their licences and pay fees on December 31 annually. The proposed amendment to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act will allow for a licence renewal date that is more convenient and less problematic for licensed insolvency trustees.
Additionally, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act currently requires licensed insolvency trustees to maintain original copies of certain documents. The amendments will allow licensed insolvency trustees to maintain additional records in electronic format. It is hoped that this will promote modern digital office practises and reduce administrative burden and storage costs for trustees.
Thank you, senators.
Senator Marshall: Is the funding for this provided under the Treasury Board? I’m just looking in my budget book. There’s a cost associated with this, is there not?
Mr. Young: For the overall regulatory modernization bill? There are some aspects of the modernization that departments have asked for that that do require some funding, particularly under the Food and Drugs Act.
Senator Marshall: So it’s not under Treasury Board, it’s under the individual departments?
Mr. Young: Correct.
Senator Marshall: Are the regulations being amended or are they being eliminated to lighten the regulatory load?
Mr. Young: The regulations themselves are not being eliminated. There is legislation that will be amended in order for regulations to eventually get amended. Any regulation that requires amendments will go through the typical Governor-in-Council process. These acts are being amended so that the regulations can themselves eventually get amended. Sometimes regulations cannot be changed because the legislation says they must do something or another, and so the regulations will only be able to be changed once the enabling legislation has been changed.
Senator Marshall: So it’s nothing like what we call a red tape reduction program, it’s more just modernization and updating, and you’re saying that the funding is budgeted under each of the respective departments?
Mr. Young: Correct. In most cases no funding is required. However, in those few cases where some funding is required, the individual departments responsible for the modernization initiative will have received the funding.
Senator Marshall: Which two cases is that for?
Mr. Young: The Food and Drugs Act, so Health Canada received some money for it.
Senator Marshall: Health Canada, and what was the other one?
Mr. Young: That was it. Sorry.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
The Chair: Senators, any other questions? If not, this concludes Subdivision A of Division 9, Part 4. Thank you to the witness.
We will now move to Subdivision B of Division 9, Part 4. The chair will recognize as witnesses, from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Mr. Carl Cotton.
Carl Cotton, Vice President, Program Development Directorate, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair. My name is Carl Cotton, and I’m Vice President of Program Development Directorate at Measurement Canada. Measurement Canada is an agency of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Our mandate and legislation are designed to ensure measurement accuracy to protect consumers from measurement errors. These errors, though in some cases quite small, can lead to significant costs to Canadians or device owners.
Clause 162: The proposed amendment provides the ability for the minister to make regulations to allow for new units of measure for electricity and gas sales, so basically combining existing units of measure for transactions that are not currently specified in the act. This measure will increase the agility of our legislation and facilitate a faster response when new technologies are proposed to enter into the Canadian marketplace.
For example, there are new technologies coming forward for zero-emission vehicles or LED street lighting that may not use conventional units of measure and this will give the minister authority to establish temporary regulations to allow for the combination of units of measure. It does it in a time-limited context and the regulations made under this authority would expire when a permanent amendment to the regulations is made through the normal regulation-making process.
Senator Marshall: I’m looking in the budget book. Is this initiative costing any money?
Mr. Cotton: No, it’s not. It’s forward-looking. We don’t have anything in front of us right now that would cause us to want to combine units of measure, but with all of the new technology coming forward some of our stakeholders, the Canadian Electricity Association, for example, has given us a heads-up that there may be things that we need to be able to address. There’s no cost in the budget and there are no funds allotted to this.
Senator Marshall: This is probably an unfair question. Why is it in Budget Implementation Act?
Mr. Young: The government committed in the fall economic statement that they would table an omnibus regulatory modernization bill in 2019, and so the government has decided that the method they wanted to table this modernization bill was via Budget Implementation Act.
Senator Marshall: I don’t have any other questions. I think everyone knows that it doesn’t belong there.
Senator Forest: When there are new units of measure, we need tools to measure them. But who develops them?
Mr. Cotton: Several manufacturers are looking at new technology, as in the example I gave you for charging electric cars. There are organizations such as Flo, in Quebec, and ChargePoint, an American organization. They assess the development of new technology to sell energy.
Senator Forest: So it’s the private sector that —
Mr. Cotton: It’s the private sector, yes.
Senator Forest: Are the units of measure certified by your organization?
Mr. Cotton: By Measurement Canada, yes. The measuring devices used for trade must be approved by Measurement Canada. They must be inspected initially and also periodically.
Senator Duncan: I appreciate the question regarding the units of measure. I am also aware that there are other innovations to do with electricity transmission lines, and so on and so forth. There are new ways of work. Those would be more governed provincially, I would suspect. Correct?
Mr. Cotton: Some may be. There are some shared responsibilities when it comes to certain requirements related to trade measurement. For example, the devices that need to be approved for use in trade, the mandate falls specifically within the Weights and Measures Act or the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, but there are some parameters like billing, for example, where there are shared responsibilities between the province and Measurement Canada and the federal government.
Senator Duncan: I was thinking of an innovation in the construction of transmission lines of — for example, which eliminates the need for electrical outages in my particular area. Would those sorts of innovations fall under Measurement Canada or the province?
Mr. Cotton: That would not fall under Measurement Canada’s mandate. That would likely be a provincial responsibility.
The Chair: Any other questions, senators? If not, before I say thank you to Mr. Cotton, I’m going to ask you to make the presentation on Subdivision G of Division 9, Part 4 under the title Weights and Measures Act.
So, Mr. Cotton, if you could give your presentation, we’ll ask you questions about these clauses in a way that ensures that we won’t be here until late this evening.
Mr. Cotton: That works for me. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
There are five amendments to the Weights and Measures Act. Most are proposed or removed prescriptively in the current legislation. In clause 192, for example, the definition of measuring machine is being amended to remove the reference to “moving or movable parts.” This will bring us into the 21st century. The amendment is proposed to address the increasing number of devices that no longer have moving parts, including those that are based on software or measurement or measurement-related apps, or even lasers, for example.
In addition to this change there is a similar ministerial regulation-making authority that is proposed for electricity that we just talked about, which will allow us to combine units of measure with a similar rationale.
The other proposed amendments provide greater flexibility in the act and will allow us to align our definitions for units of measure with the Systeme Internationale, or SI, which has just redefined the kilogram and other standard units of measure.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I have the same question. Is there any money in Budget 2019 for this?
Mr. Cotton: No.
Senator Marshall: There is a section there about payment of fees and charges. Is that new? Will that increase revenues for the government?
Mr. Cotton: Under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, under the previous set?
Senator Marshall: No, this one is subdivision G, weights and measures, payment of fees and charges.
Mr. Cotton: What we’re doing there is, we’re allowing payments to be made directly to Measurement Canada rather than to the Receiver General. This will streamline the payment methods that many of our stakeholders have to deal with. We have organizations that will have to pay for approval testing, inspections and audits, and it will make it easier for them to track their payments.
Senator Marshall: So there will be more housekeeping?
Mr. Cotton: Yes.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
The Chair: Are there any other questions from senators? If not, this completes subdivision G of Division 9, Part 4. Mr. Cotton, thank you very much for being here and sharing your information.
Now we will go to subdivision D of Division 9, Part 4, and the heading is Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. For this discussion, we welcome Mr. Tim Krawchuk from Canada Revenue Agency. From the Privy Council Office, Ms. Melanie Hill, Senior Policy Officer, Intergovernmental Affairs.
Please make your presentations.
Tim Krawchuk, Manager, Excise Duty Operations - Alcohol, Canada Revenue Agency: We’re going to discuss the amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act. This will remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving interprovincially be sold or consigned to a provincial liquor authority. The provinces and territories still have the authority to control the sale and distribution of alcohol within their jurisdictions. The Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act will only apply to alcohol being imported into Canada. The amendment fulfills a commitment in the December 2018 First Ministers meeting.
Senator Andreychuk: So this is a very hot provincial issue to move alcohol. What you’re saying is it only importation, not the distribution or sale within a province, if I understood you.
Mr. Krawchuk: Yes.
Senator Andreychuk: So, importation from where, and how is that handled?
Mr. Krawchuk: It will only apply to products imported into Canada, meaning that products imported to Canada has to go through a liquor board. Interprovincially — within Canada — the provinces and territories do not need this piece of legislation to control that distribution.
Senator Andreychuk: Okay. And is that historically because of the executive powers and the federal government’s powers for importation? That’s really the reason and you’re restricting it going to the provincial government authorities?
Mr. Krawchuk: It’s twofold. It’s needed for products coming into Canada. The legislation was enacted in 1928 when the provinces repealed many of their prohibition laws, so the thinking at that time was this was needed to ensure that provincial law would be constitutionally viable.
We learned in the Comeau case last year that the provinces derive the power from the Constitution, not the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, or IILA.
Senator Andreychuk: And it does not address exports?
Mr. Krawchuk: No, not at all.
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you.
Senator Marshall: Does it have anything to do with the budget?
Mr. Krawchuk: Actually, it does.
Senator Marshall: Oh, good.
Mr. Krawchuk: I don’t know the page, but there is a reference that says the government is committed to enhancing interprovincial trade. It doesn’t mention the IILA in particular.
Senator Marshall: Is there money budgeted for it?
Mr. Krawchuk: There is no money for this initiative.
Senator Marshall: Do you know what page this is on?
Melanie Hill, Senior Policy Officer, Intergovernmental Affairs, Privy Council Office: It’s on page 119.
Senator Marshall: That’s good, okay. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you. If there are no other questions, this concludes subdivision D of Division 9, Part 4. To the witnesses, thank you very much.
Now we will move to subdivisions E and F of Division 9 of Part 4, namely the Precious Metals Marking Act — subdivision E — and the Textile Labelling Act, which is subdivision F. For this we welcome, from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Ian Disend.
Ian Disend, Senior Policy Analyst, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Thank you. I’m Ian Disend, Senior Project Manager, competition policy development, Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Although the amendments to the Precious Metals Marking Act appear first in the bill, they complement the proposed amendments to the Textile Labelling Act, in Subdivision F. I’ll first address this proposal.
The bill amends the regulation-making authority of the Textile Labelling Act such that exemptions from labelling rules that are made by regulation can clearly be either conditional or unconditional. The current absence of this explicit distinction in the act’s regulation-making power has led to questions by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations about whether certain exceptions in the regulations are within the scope of the existing authority in the statute.
Most critically, imported products can be temporarily exempted from labelling rules where conditions are met, including that labels are corrected before the products go to market. Having to repeal this exception because it is outside the act’s scope of authority would lead to significant business disruption. This amendment corrects the statutory authority to avoid this problem and allow conditional exceptions to remain on the books.
While no concerns have been raised regarding the Precious Metals Marking Act, a similar amendment is being proposed to avoid the same issues in the future and to align these two acts with the third labelling act applied by the Competition Bureau for packaged products, which already makes this distinction. Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I have no questions on this one. Thank you.
Senator Andreychuk: I’m concerned. I get why we’re here: it was outside the powers in the regulations. I think that has to be corrected, and bravo to the staff and members of the Regulations Committee for doing that.
My concern is that it is discretionary powers that are being exercised. Was anything raised by anyone in the Regulations Committee or elsewhere as to whether it is the appropriate way to approach labelling?
Mr. Disend: No, the concerns they raised were strictly in the manner in which these regulations were drafted as compared to the regulation-making power in the statute.
To be clear, it’s not a discretionary exception; it’s just that exceptions can be made by regulation and they wanted the scope to be corrected so that could be either conditional or unconditional exceptions.
Senator Andreychuk: I appreciate that, but I call it discretionary because it’s in regulations and so much is embedded.
When did that ability to have some exemptions and non-exemptions come in originally? Do you know?
Mr. Disend: I believe the text of the act dates from 1975. It hasn’t been substantially updated since then. The Regulations Committee first drew attention to this particular drafting issue in the year 2000.
Senator Andreychuk: So it’s taken some time.
Mr. Disend: It has.
Senator Andreychuk: The other concern is the fact that we have changed worldwide import and export trade and we’re running on a 1975 example. I’m very concerned about the security of products and whether they meet the standards of health and transparency, both for consumers but also in competition with other countries.
There has not been any discussion as to the labelling per se, the transparency of that and modernizing it to today’s new initiatives. I mean 1975 was before NAFTA, CETA and before all of our internationals.
Mr. Disend: Within the department, certainly part of our mandate is to ensure that framework laws are up-to-date and adequate for the market; so certainly there is discussion. Insofar as I know, other than private members’ bills, I don’t believe there has been any initiatives over the years to update the labelling acts.
Their scope is relatively narrow; so it’s not necessarily the type of thing that’s been urgent or pressing on a regular basis. It is fair to say that these laws are always under scrutiny to some extent.
Senator Andreychuk: It’s a housekeeping matter, as we used to say before we got omnibus bills. Thank you.
Senator Forest: My colleague covered all the points that intrigued me.
The Chair: Mr. Disend, thank you for sharing this information to answer questions.
We will move now to the measures under (h) of Division 9 of Part 4, and our witness from Health Canada is Mr. Tolga Yalkin.
Tolga Yalkin, Director General, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Health Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’m the director general of the Consumer Product Safety Directorate. I’ll provide some context. Canadian law requires that hazardous products disclose, on their labels, the ingredients found in products sold for use in the workplace.
That said, some companies consider their formulas to be trade secrets, and, accordingly, they can file a claim to exempt a chemical product from the requirement to disclose its ingredients on the label.
When a company makes such an application to Health Canada, we review the other information companies do plan on providing to workers on the chemical product in question, including on the hazards they pose, the precautions they ought to take to protect themselves, and first aid treatment in the case of exposure. We at Health Canada make sure that information is both sufficient and accurate.
While they aren’t radical, the proposed measures constitute only small improvements to the process for considering companies’ requests to not disclose their chemical formulas.
First, removing the requirement that Health Canada be the guarantor of the information they plan to provide workers on the chemical products in question, which is currently required by Canadian law; second, replacing the Canada Gazette process for publishing individual product notices with an online system; third, eliminating a heavy-handed and cumbersome appeal process and leaving any disputes to be dealt with through the remedies provided by judicial review; fourth, graduated sanctions for non-compliance; and, fifth, providing the Minister of Health with authority under a very narrow set of circumstances to disclose chemical formulas where there is a serious or imminent danger to human health or safety.
Senator Marshall: I have only one question. When you go through and decide on these amendments, is there any consultation with stakeholders?
Mr. Yalkin: I suspect many of the amendments you’ve heard here today are the fruits of a regulatory review process we went through where we consulted with our stakeholders extensively and received a number of recommendations and feedback from them on how to reform our existing suite of regulations and enabling legislation that forms a part of it, so yes.
Senator Marshall: There is no money in the budget for this process. This is done internally?
Mr. Yalkin: Correct.
Senator Marshall: Is that something you do on an ongoing basis?
Mr. Yalkin: Perhaps I should defer to my colleague at Treasury Board Secretariat to speak to that.
Mr. Young: There are two sets of requirements that we have for reviews of existing regulations.
The first one is with the new cabinet directive on regulation. There is a requirement that departments undertake a review of their full stock of regulations on a regular basis. This would go back and look at what they have to make sure that the regulations are still relevant.
There is another initiative being led by Treasury Board called “targeted reviews.” This one has identified three high-growth sectors that were looked at last year, including health and medical devices, and TBS led a wide consultation with stakeholders, and we received a hundred and something different submissions. As a result of that, a number of regulatory road maps were developed. Some of the road maps require some legislative changes which are being presented through this annual regulatory modernization bill.
Senator Marshall: My question relates more to the general ones. When you say they’re reviewed on a regular basis, does that mean every five years? How do you define “regular?”
Mr. Young: So the requirement to do a stock review came out in September of 2018 when the new CDR was presented. There is no timeline for a full stock review. We leave it up to the departments to determine how best to undertake that.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
Senator Duncan: My question follows up on Senator Marshall’s. I was curious what consultation was undertaken specifically with the hazardous materials with the territorial and provincial occupational health and safety boards because they’re the ones that are most often dealing with this particular issue.
Mr. Yalkin: That’s a very good question. One of the things that this question touches on, too, is that when it comes to this legislation, regulating hazardous products, it’s an area of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces, with the provinces and territories bearing the brunt of the responsibilities when it comes to occupational health and safety.
We are very engaged with them on a regular basis. There is a current issues committee where we consult with provincial and territorial — and indeed federal, in the case of ESDC — regulatory authorities who are responsible for occupational health and safety.
When we received a number of proposals from industry stakeholders as part of the regulatory review exercise that we undertook, we obviously consulted very closely with our FPT counterparts to try to strike the right balance between meeting the objectives of industry while at the same time ensuring that we were putting in place rules that were well received by our colleagues in the provinces and territories.
We did consult with them on these particular recommended amendments, and they were supportive of them.
Senator Duncan: Could I ask that you provide a summary of that consultation through the clerk?
Mr. Yalkin: Of course.
Senator Duncan: “Consult with” can mean different things to different people. I’m just curious about what format that took.
One of the other hats I’ve taken on as a senator is sitting on the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, and I must say I was astounded at the length of time some regulations — we’re not talking months but years — have been before that committee.
I was pleased to hear there is targeted review under way to do something about this. I hope I will see significant progress in the length of time that regulations are before the committee. Thank you.
Senator Forest: I have a quick question. Since these are hazardous materials, when we talk about the critical mass of the accumulated material, and since cities are on the front line in the event of contamination, do you share this information with the cities, as you do with other levels of government?
Mr. Yalkin: Yes. Some measures proposed in the bill would apply, I imagine, to municipalities in the event that contamination could expose Canadians to danger. Of course, the minister’s discretion is somewhat limited to protect companies’ information, which is considered private and which is sent to Health Canada. However, we still believe that the measures proposed in the bill will sufficiently protect Canadians in the event of danger.
Senator Forest: So it’s determined on a case-by-case basis. However, for example, if we’re talking about a production plant, this may significantly affect the choice of risk coverage and emergency response plans.
Mr. Yalkin: Yes.
Senator Marshall: This question is really for Mr. Young. When all these amendments are going through now — regulations and I think changes to regulations are gazetted, is that correct?
Mr. Young: Correct.
Senator Marshall: So will this legislation change that?
Mr. Young: No. This legislation doesn’t change how regulations are made. It just changes the legislation so that regulations can themselves be changed. Then any of those regulations that require changes will go through the regular Governor-in-Council and gazetting process.
Senator Marshall: So we’ll still see the gazetting.
Mr. Young: Correct.
Senator Marshall: Okay, thank you.
The Chair: Honourable senators, we have one item left of our BIA with the officials, and since we do have the time and the officials are here — this would be Division 22 of Part 4, Canada Student Loans Act and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act. Do I have a consensus that we continue?
Hon. Senators: Yes.
The Chair: This is the last item. Knowing that the sponsor of the bill, Senator Boehm, is here, we want to give him the mandate for the following weeks.
This said, thank you. We will now recognize and welcome Mr. Atiq Rahman, Director General of the Canada Student Loans Program, Learning Branch. Mr. Rahman, the floor is yours.
Atiq Rahman, Director General, Canada Student Loans Program, Learning Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada: Thank you, senator.
Division 22 proposes amendments to the Canada Student Loans Act and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to make Canada student loans interest free during the six-month non-repayment period after borrowers leave school. Canada’s student loans remain interest free and payment-free while pursuing studies. Interest on Canada student loans begins to accrue immediately after borrowers leave school, and they enter repayment six months later.
This change would also align Canada’s student loan policy with some of the provincial student loan policies, especially in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Thank you.
Senator Marshall: I have just one question. We discuss student loans here quite a bit, especially the writeoffs and amounts owing. We’ve been provided with a lot of financial information — the actuarial report. Are those numbers going to be reworked so that we’ll get new estimates? Because it’s going to make a difference to the writeoffs and the receivables.
Mr. Rahman: That is right, senator, but the actuarial report is prepared every year. It’s made public every year, as well. Although the legislative requirement is that it be done only once every three years, as a matter of practice, it is done every single year. So yes, the report will be updated and made public.
Senator Marshall: So when we come back in the new year, we should have some more current . . .
Mr. Rahman: That’s right.
Senator Marshall: Thank you very much.
The Chair: On this, honourable senators, Mr. Rahman, thank you very much. To all the witnesses who are here in the audience and the ones we’ve had prior, this concludes our BIA with the officials of the Department of Finance and other departments. It also is in the spirit of our main objective of the committee, which is transparency, accountability and predictability. We call it “TAP.”
To the professionals who came to our committee, thank you very much. It shows, again, the professionalism of the public servants of Canada.
On this, we can say to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Boehm, that we have completed the BIA. In two weeks’ time, we will move on to witnesses outside government. If you have any comments, the chair will recognize you.
Senator Boehm: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’ve been through a number of these briefings separately, as well, and they have all been excellent. So I want to extend my thanks to all the public servants who have contributed to this. Thank you.