Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
Issue 28 - Evidence
OTTAWA Thursday, March 11, 1999
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 10:45 a.m. to
examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates
(C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999.
Senator Terry Stratton (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: We welcome you back, gentlemen.
Mr. Rick Neville, Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Analysis and Operations
Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat: Thank you for having us.
The Chairman: Last night we heard the opening statements.
Are there any questions that people would like to ask at this stage?
Senator Bolduc: You told us yesterday that a third of the additional
expenditures have been for collective agreement commitments. Another part,
which is quite important, came out of the budget decisions of 1999, that is to
say, transfers to the territorial governments, the CIDA problems, and also the
Minister of Finance problems on our international commitments. That is easy to
However, some departments, though not all of them, seem to have the habit of
incurring not necessarily urgent or emergency expenditures as a regular
procedure. Let's take a ministry like Canadian Heritage. The dozen agencies in
that ministry have additional expenditures. I can understand that some
decisions taken, for example, in December have to be approved here. However,
some ministries do not have additional expenditures, and some incur them in
every agency under the responsibility of the minister.
Are you less rigorous in your analysis of the proposed expenditures for certain
ministries, or do they have more political clout, or what? I would like to
understand that. The Privy Council, for example, has many expenditures, not
only for the department itself, but for the Canadian Centre for Management
Development, which is not an emergency affair, after all. It is a training
school. I guess the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat did not
have too many intergovernmental meetings. The Chief Electoral Officer,
Commissioner of Official Languages, Millennium Bureau of Canada, National Round
Table on the Environment and the Economy, Public Service Staff Relations Board,
and Security Intelligence Review Committee are all listed here. The other
examples are in Canadian Heritage: National Archives of Canada, National Arts
Centre Corporation, National Capital Commission, National Film Board, National
Gallery of Canada, and the National Library. I know that all those agencies
have employees and you have to pay for the collective agreement, so that is a
part of it.
However, there is more than that. The National Gallery has subsidies. What are
they? I would like to have a broad explanation for that attitude -- I would
call that "an attitude" -- in comparison to the things we discussed
Mr. Neville: That is a very broad question and it covers a lot of ground. Let me
try, if I can, to bring some precision to it.
First of all, as you can appreciate, the Main Estimates are actually developed
during the months of December, January, and February. Therefore, they are the
best guess of the government's expenditures for the upcoming year, starting
April 1. Already, when you table the estimates, which this year was on March 1,
there is a further period of time before the fiscal year even starts.
That being said, there are decisions taken and events that occur subsequent to
the beginning of the fiscal year, which obviously requires some additional
funding to meet those requirements.
You happened to mention Heritage Canada. As an example, I will use a component
of Heritage Canada, which is Parks. I think we all know Parks quite well. We
have all been in the parks. This past year was the worst in their history for
forest fires. As a result, we have had to give them additional funding to cover
those particular costs. We did not know they were going to have a bad year with
respect to forest fires, and certainly we cannot predict that. Therefore, part
of the Supplementary Estimates (C) is to replenish the expenditures that had to
be incurred with respect to Parks Canada and the forest fires. That is just an
The Privy Council was another example you put forward. At the beginning of the
year, I do not think anybody had planned that we would be into a serious
negotiation with the provinces and the territories on social union. Obviously
that became a priority in order to finalize the budget for 1999-2000. In that
particular case, and I am just using that as an example again, we set up a task
force that had to incur significant expenditures during 1998-1999 to cover the
cost of the social union deliberations.
The Treasury Board Secretariat vets each request. We make a lot of suggestions
to departments in terms of changes and whether they can absorb the amounts,
based on their current expenditure levels. Are there ways of deferring costs?
Are there other ways of trying to minimize the expenditures being requested?
When we are satisfied with the submissions, we prepare a précis, which is
a recommendation to the Treasury Board ministers, in terms of what they should
discuss and decide on. Obviously, the last say is with the Treasury Board
ministers, and that is quite a formal process. Then decisions are taken, and as
a result, are reflected in the Supplementary Estimates.
I will say that all of these requests are fair in terms of having gone through
due diligence and are a reflection of the government's current position. We do
not treat one department more generously than another. We try to be consistent
across the board.
Senator Bolduc: I can understand it if suddenly there is no cod in the Atlantic
and you have to pay out an emergency fund for the fishermen, or if there is a
bad crop in Saskatchewan or Manitoba and then you have to help the farmers.
I do not have anything against museums and I like art, like anybody else.
However, I do not see the Ministry of Canadian Heritage as having urgent or
emergency matters to deal with. Obviously there must be some, because all the
12 agencies of the department are listed for an additional amount.
The Chairman: Senator Bolduc, I had the same question. By my rough calculation,
their requests in Supplementary Estimates (C) add up to $110 million. That is
staggering when you think about some of the issues that we have outstanding,
such as native housing, just to name one, and we are spinning money off into
these divisions of Canadian Heritage. We need to look at the year-over-year
increase over the last three years to Canadian Heritage and at their percentage
We definitely support the arts, but when you look at $110 million in
Supplementary Estimates (C), you say that you can justify the forest fires, but
the list is too long here.
Mr. Neville: My colleague has volunteered to respond to this.
Mr. Andrew Lieff, Director, Expenditure Operations Division, Treasury Board
Secretariat: Senator, you have raised two issues. One is the year-over-year
increase, which I do not have in front of me.
The Chairman: I appreciate that.
Mr. Lieff: However, I can explain why we are seeing so many agencies in these
Senator Bolduc, you have already mentioned the compensation for collective
bargaining. If we went through, for example, each of these organizations, such
as the Canadian Film Development Corporation, the Canadian Museum of
Civilization, we would see that each of them have one or two entries. One is
the compensation for collective bargaining, and the other is something called "additional
offering costs". That is a euphemism for the Ontario tax reforms, where
they pay grants in lieu of taxes.
All these little agencies appear in these Supplementary Estimates precisely for
that reason. The Parks amount is quite different.
Senator Bolduc: Would you repeat your explanation?
Mr. Lieff: Due to the Ontario tax reform, there is a new assessment of property
taxes. The government pays grants in lieu that are roughly equivalent to what
would have been levied if the agencies were assessed and had to pay taxes like
anyone else. Because of this tax reform, there is a higher tax burden for which
these agencies were never funded and we are providing a supplement.
If we went through each of the ones that I am looking at here, it would be
either for collective bargaining or for that item.
Mr. Neville: Eight of the 12 that you referred to -- and I just did a quick
count, so I stand to be corrected -- have only those items included therein. If
we were not in a scenario where we had signed these collective agreements,
eight of the 12 would not even be in this book. That should reassure you.
Senator Fraser: Last night I was looking at the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, and I noted that there is a transfer of $36 million there.
Mr. Neville: Yes.
The Chairman: When I looked at the $110 million, I do not know about you, but my
eyeballs sure opened wide.
Mr. Neville: I appreciate that. In all fairness, the response that we have give
you should alleviate your concerns.
The Chairman: Yes, to a degree.
Mr. Lieff: In terms of whether these issues are emergencies, each year the
budget announces a planned spending level, which for last year was $148
billion. In the estimates we show $145 billion, because that is what we feel,
as the executive, we are ready to come and seek parliamentary approval for. The
rest is either for things that come up during the year, or perhaps even for some
planned things for which we need legislative approval, and we do not want to
insult the integrity of the process by presuming to identify those in advance
in these estimates.
There is certainly planned spending that will occur once the necessary Treasury
Board and parliamentary approvals are received. They need not be emergencies,
but just the normal operation of government.
Senator Bolduc: Certainly, given the fact that the tax revenues increased so
much, it helps to spend at the end of the year.
Mr. Neville: Senator, we are here to discuss the expenditures related to the
Supplementary Estimates (C). If we want to get into a separate discussion on
the revenues, that is for another day.
Senator Mahovlich: Do you have a surplus from time to time in certain years? Is
there ever a surplus with museums?
Mr. Neville: We have not had a surplus for several years. We have had
break-even, for all intents and purposes, on the books for this past year,
which is in fact what was announced. We are forecasting a break-even scenario
for the forthcoming two years. That is a significant shift from where we have
been in the past.
Senator Mahovlich: At some museum, a Picasso might become available and you
cannot forecast that.
Mr. Neville: That is true. That is why we have Supplementary Estimates as well.
It is to allow for the changes during the year that you cannot predict at the
In our own household finances, we set up a budget. I am sure all of you have
your own budgets, month by month, as to what you expect. We do allow, or I do,
a specific amount at the end for contingencies or eventualities. In some months
that is not accurate; it just does not work out. You hope that at the end of
the year, you are on target with what you had originally planned.
Senator Ferretti Barth: I'm interested in the Canadian International Development
Agency. It is requesting a 9 per cent increase in the Supplementary Estimates
Does the Agency explain why it needs the extra funding?
Mr. Neville: To which agency are you referring?
Senator Ferretti Barth: The Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA. It
has a lot of money and now it is asking for 9 per cent more than the amount set
out in the February 1998-99 budget.
Mr. Neville: The increase covers two items. The first is debt forgiveness for
Senator Ferretti Barth: Does that mean the agency is asking for money to pay off
its international debt?
Mr. Neville: Yes, exactly.
Senator Ferretti Barth: And we are paying off that debt?
Mr. Neville: I would like to explain how this works. We lent money to a number
of countries and they are no longer able to pay us back. We therefore have to
ask Parliament to grant them debt forgiveness. This involves a cost, because we
expected to receive that money, and now we will not.
The amount is close to $25 million. A number of grants were announced that
totalled close to $123 million. There were grants for the United Nations, of
which we are a member. Naturally, there are costs involved in remaining a
member of this organization. I could perhaps give you a breakdown to provide
more information, but all the grants together total close to $123 million. Would
you like to have a breakdown of this amount?
Senator Ferretti Barth: I would just like you to tell me how it benefits the
Canadian government to subsidize these countries in this way. What exactly is
the purpose of spending all these billions of dollars? What are the results we
have achieved after all these years the international Agency has been providing
Mr. Neville: Canada does this to enhance its international reputation as a
humanitarian country as regards its vision, principles and values. In order to
become a member of the United Nations, we have to pay a certain amount. We have
to belong to a number of organizations, and this involves some costs.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Do other countries make similar contributions,
particularly the United States?
Mr. Neville: Yes, I remember providing the percentage figure for Canada's
contribution as compared to other countries, and it was very much in line. In
other words, our percentage contribution was very similar to that of other
countries. So we do our share with respect to our contribution.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I would like to follow up on the questions asked by Senator
Ferretti Barth. Does anyone analyze and evaluate the money spent by CIDA? Last
year, I had an opportunity to visit one or two countries abroad, and people
there told me that it was time to look into the money provided to determine
whether it was really getting to the people. I don't doubt that some of it goes
to individuals, but far from all of it does. Who evaluates CIDA's performance?
Mr. Neville: Evaluations are made at a number of levels. CIDA has people in the
field and procedures in place to evaluate its investments and expenditures.
CIDA's expenses are also reviewed on an ongoing basis by the Social Policy
Sub-committee of Cabinet. It determines whether the funds are being distributed
appropriately. There is a third, overall review done by the Treasury Board
Secretariat. Cabinet also evaluates CIDA's programs and decides how the
resources should be allocated. A document including CIDA's estimates will be
tabled in the next few weeks. It will give you much more information in terms
of specific expenditures. In October, the department's performance report will
be tabled as well. It will show the amounts spent and the performance standards
announced. I think there is a great deal of information available if you wish
to look into CIDA's expenditures more closely.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I will look at that material closely. I was told by someone
who worked in Uganda, in Africa, that the money was not going where it was
supposed to. Who monitors the situation within the various countries? I am
wondering whether it's not time for this committee to call for a more in-depth
review of these expenditures. I understand the plans exist, but I would like to
know what happens in concrete terms. Does the money really get to the people?
Mr. Neville: I can assure you that within CIDA there are ongoing evaluations of
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I'm still not convinced.
Senator Ferretti Barth: I find one thing rather disturbing. People say that
charity begins at home, because before we can help others, we must be in a good
In the Senate, we are always talking about the poverty of children and families,
the shortage of jobs, students who drop out of school and prostitution -- in
other words all sorts of social ills. I come from a background in community
social work, and I've worked with street people. I have met many such people. I
thought Canada was the most wonderful country in the world, but now I realize
that the problem is really serious.
We are a rich nation, and that is how we are seen. We answer the call for help
from other countries in poor situations, and we deprive our fellow citizens of
their right to a decent life, a job, education for our young people and
programs appropriate to people's needs. The fact is that a certain percentage of
Canadians live in poverty.
Like Senator Lavoie-Roux, I would like to know where the money is going. Why is
there no specific report setting out the expenditures? You say that Uganda got
$10 million and that the other member countries contributed to different
extents. But I think spending this money without knowing where it is going
exactly is hurting our fellow Canadians.
Mr. Neville: I would suggest you look very closely at the documents that will be
tabled in Parliament in a few weeks. In CIDA's case, that will be the Report on
Plans and Priorities for 1999-2000.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Could you send us a copy of that?
Mr. Neville: These documents will be available to all senators in a few weeks. I
would also advise you to look at the document tabled in October 1998, which was
a performance report on CIDA's expenditures for 1997-98. These two documents
will give you a good idea of the agency's expenditures and results.
You could also look at the Report on Plans and Priorities for the previous year
to make sure you have all the information. These documents are quite detailed
and will give you a good overall understanding of CIDA's activities.
Senator Ferretti Barth: In conversations I have had with various people, I heard
that we built a hospital in Africa using Canadian aid money, but that the
hospital is not working because there is no equipment, and there are no doctors
or nurses. So the hospital is standing there unused, doing no one any good, but
we spent money to build it. There are several examples like that. We need to set
up an oversight committee.
Senator Mahovlich: On the topic of the United Nations, a few years ago -- not
that long ago, I think, but time passes so quickly -- the United States of
America refused to pay its share. Do you remember that?
Mr. Neville: I remember reading it in the newspapers. I understand that that is
still under discussion and has not yet been resolved.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: You should ask that question of Jessie Helms. He is the
one who is holding that up.
I want to return to the discussion we had last night on the firearms control
program. In the subset it is called "Firearms Control Program," which
is on page 101, and in the Main Estimates, it says, contributions of the
provinces and territories for the firearms program. Are we talking about the
same thing here or are these two separate entities?
Mr. Lieff: Senator, most of the Main Estimates list the actual contribution, the
name of the contribution, and the payments. In the Supplementary Estimates, to
make it easier to understand, we try to craft a layman's explanation.
If we look at the bottom of the page, under the grants and contributions, the
grant and contribution name should read exactly the same. So I am hoping that
will be the case when I actually look here.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The Main Estimates call it a firearms program and the
supplementaries call it a firearms control program. I am wondering if the
figure we were talking about last night is for federal purposes only, whereas
the figure in the Main Estimates is for the provinces and territories. How much
is it costing overall to set up such a control program? I do not want to answer
my own question, but I read, in these two figures, two different approaches to
it in terms of costs.
Mr. Lieff: There are two different activities happening under the firearms
control program. One is the actual operational costs incurred by Justice, and
perhaps some other agencies, which is what we are showing here in the
supplementaries, the firearms control program. In vote 1 it shows increased
authority. That is their operating vote. The grants and contributions to the
provinces are out of a separate vote, which would be vote 5, but there are no
contributions to the provinces in these particular Supplementary Estimates. One
can get the total cost of the program by simply adding the two together.
Mr. Neville: The key is, in the Supplementary Estimates, we are only talking
about the operational costs to establish this program, and those are the
additional requirements being requested. There are no additional amounts being
requested for transfer to the provinces.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: But the item in the supplementaries we are talking about
relates to the $85 million, which may have been misinterpreted or misunderstood
at the time.
Mr. Neville: Yes.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: The contribution to the provinces and territories has
nothing to do with that $85 million, which is the additional cost of setting up
the program? That is what I am trying to pinpoint.
Mr. Lieff: If my memory is correct, the original $85 million included both. The
provinces have a number of operational things to do in order to manage the
program, as they administer a significant part of it. The federal government
also administers a part. Our grants and contributions to the provinces are to
help them set up their administrative machinery. If I am not mistaken, the total
published numbers include both.
Mr. Neville: Yes, I will confirm that they do include both the transfer to the
provinces and the internal operating costs.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: They all relate to that $85 million?
Mr. Neville: Yes. It is the same program.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: We have discussed the cost of the Swissair investigation
and the possibility of getting some reimbursement from insurance companies or
the airline itself. I believe you wrote a letter saying the government had made
approaches but had not received any reply. Now we are being asked to approve
another $28 million for the investigation, which may bring it up to what, $75
million? Is that possible? This is on page 117. The Americans sent up a special
craft for dredging purposes and there was some hope that they would not charge
us for that. However, I see in the breakdown, and I assume it refers to the
Swissair issue, rental costs of $6.754 million. I do not want to get too much
The concern is that this investigation has to be paid for, but it benefits more
than just Canada. Can any of those costs be recovered either from the insurance
companies, from the airline, or from other sources?
Mr. Neville: Let me give you a bit more information because we have a fulsome
note and I would like to go through it quickly.
We are talking about Swissair Flight 111, which was bound for Switzerland out of
New York City. As you know, it crashed off the coast of Peggy's Cove, Nova
Scotia, on September 2. Pursuant to Annex 13 of the Chicago Convention on
International Civil Aviation, it will be necessary for the Treasury Board
Secretariat to explore all avenues that might identify a possible cause of the
TSB is not resourced on an ongoing basis to undertake and pay for an
investigation on the scale that is required by this crash. In addition to the
$7 million that was appropriated in Supplementary Estimates (B), TSB is now
requesting further incremental funding of $29.7 million as reimbursement for
its own investigation costs to date, as well as to reimburse other departments
for incremental costs incurred up to March 31, 1999.
The search and rescue operation that was conducted is part of the mandate of
several departments and the costs associated with this phase are therefore not
included and have been absorbed by the respective departments. It is estimated
that the total cost to be incurred is not yet finalized. TSB has unsuccessfully
approached the airline's insurance agent for recovery of some of the costs. The
agency has indicated that there are no precedents for cost recovery from a
foreign government, nor from an airline or its insurance company. Given this
lack, coupled with the fact that the country where an accident occurs is
directed -- I stress the word "directed" -- through international
agreements to carry out a complete and thorough investigation using its own
resources, there does not appear to be a strong legal basis for recovering
The U.S. government has not charged us for the use of that particular ship at
this point, and we do not anticipate that they will.
Senator Bolduc: In other words, if a plane crashes here, we pay for the
Mr. Neville: Yes. Conversely, if a Canadian plane crashes in another country, it
pays for the investigation.
Senator Bolduc: And the insurance company pays the families?
Mr. Neville: That is what it comes down to. I asked that question on a number of
occasions right after the last meeting, and it was reconfirmed that we cannot,
for some reason, sue the insurance company.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: On the presentation of the estimates, in the
supplementaries you show previous estimates, which include the Main Estimates
plus any previous supplementary estimates.
Mr. Neville: Supplementary Estimates (A) and Supplementary Estimates (B), in
this particular case, for 1998-1999.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: It allows us to compare the total estimates to date,
plus what is being requested?
Mr. Neville: Correct.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: You show the Main Estimates for the coming year compared
to the Main Estimates of the previous year, but excluding some of the estimates
during that year.
Mr. Neville: It is because you are comparing mains to mains. That is the
terminology we use.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: But since the last year's mains, there have been
supplementaries. Why do you not have another column showing mains plus
supplementaries to date, so that we can have a better comparison of actual
estimates approved to Main Estimates being requested?
Mr. Neville: The comparison is mains to mains. We want to show what we went to
Parliament with last year versus what we are going with this year.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: But the mains from last year are no longer valid because
they have been added to by, in this case, nearly $7 billion, if these are
approved, and Supplementary Estimates (B) were about $5 billion, as I recall.
Senator Bolduc: And this year there is the fact that you go over your financial
plan of last year. Usually you stick within the financial plan. You say that
the expenditure for the whole year will be under $148 billion, let's say, and
you ask in the mains for $139 billion or $140 billion, and then you ask for a
couple of million in Supplementary Estimates (A), and another couple of million
in Supplementary Estimates (B), and finally another five. However, it was
different in 1998. You went over the financial plan that was presented at the
Mr. Neville: I would like to deal with Senator Lynch-Staunton's question first.
With respect to the information you are requesting, I refer you to the reports
on plans and priorities for each department, the 83 documents that we will be
tabling. Those documents do show forecasted expenditures for the current year,
including, obviously, all the approvals, which is the authority side. We also
show planned expenditures, which will be for the next year. Then you can
compare one to the other and you will have it by department. That is a fair way
of explaining it to you. However, in the mains themselves, we compare mains to
mains. That is how we have been doing it traditionally. Does that answer your
Senator Lynch-Staunton: It answers my question, but it does not challenge my
argument that comparing current mains to previous mains, which have been
supplemented, is no longer a fair comparison. If you want a better idea of
exactly what the total estimates were that you are comparing to the mains, the
current year versus the previous year, it would be advisable to include A, B,
Mr. Neville: Not to be defensive here, but I would say you are matching the blue
book against the blue book.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Yes. I want to match one blue book against four blue
Senator Bolduc: The main reason for that is that in the last two years, the
increase has been more than 1 per cent or 2 per cent for each supplementary. It
has been 6 per cent or 7 per cent.
Mr. Neville: I will take that under advisement. It is in my shop, obviously,
that we give thought to some of those changes.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Or maybe there could be a sheet to accompany the Main
Mr. Neville: It is a suggestion and we will accept it as such.
The Chairman: We sit on this committee, as Senator Bolduc has said, for years,
and for its sake, it would be nice to have a year-to-year comparison over three
years, so that we see where the budget is going, where we were three years ago,
two years ago, a year ago, and today. It is important because that gives an
historical perspective on whether the government is doing what it says it is
doing, or whether, through its supplements, it is not.
Mr. Neville: Certainly the information is available.
The Chairman: It would be of great benefit to this committee. Each year we deal
with these supplementaries, and it is like taking a poll. You look at a moment
in time. We should be more cognizant of the historical aspect.
Mr. Neville: With respect to that particular question, you may recall that when
the budget was tabled in the House in February 1998, the Minister of Finance
said that the planned expenditures were to be $148 billion. We came in with
Main Estimates at approximately $145 billion. That allowed for some flexibility
for unknowns, which is what supplementaries are, to a large extent.
In the February 16, 1999 budget speech, the Minister of Finance revised the
budgetary spending level for 1998-1999 to $153.5 billion. The total budgetary
estimates for that year are coming in, at this point, at $152.8 billion,
including Supplementary Estimates (C). In that sense, we are within the revised
planned spending for 1998-1999.
Senator Fraser: It is only a $4-million difference. On $148 billion, that is not
Mr. Neville: We are still within the revised planned spending of the Minister of
Finance as of February 16, 1999.
Senator Bolduc: But you will agree with me that there was a bigger difference
than usual in 1997 and 1998.
Mr. Neville: Yes.
Senator Robichaud: I have read page 71 of the Estimates, and I can understand
that in some cases we may not have allowed for some factors, and these
unforeseen events may involve additional spending. I also understand the matter
of collective agreements, but there are other amounts shown that are twice as
high as those in collective agreements. Could you tell me what unforeseen events
gave rise to these amounts?
Mr. Neville: The $869,000 increase was used to improve citizen access.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: People have had access to the Governor General for years,
and now, all of the sudden, it costs $1 million more.
Mr. Neville: This year, they are planning better access and improved public
information. They want to improve the situation at Rideau Hall and at the
Citadel, in Quebec City, because these are historic sites. A pilot project was
set up to offer guided tours of the Citadel in Quebec City, and to improve the
Rideau Hall Web site. This will enable Canadians and people throughout the world
to take a virtual tour of Rideau Hall and obtain more information. The funds
are also required to complete a visitor centre by adding a small theatre and a
place where visitors may buy beverages. There is also an amount for a small
promotional and marketing campaign. We hope to double the number of visitors to
Rideau Hall, to reach 250,000 by the year 2004. There is also funding for the
promotion of Canadian honours. This is to improve Canadians' knowledge of the
success of their fellow citizens through the Order of Canada and through other
honours and prizes. As you can see, a number of these initiatives will help
Canadians get better access to information.
Senator Robichaud: I understand what you are saying, but why were these amounts
not included in the Main Estimates? These things were foreseeable. There should
be long-term plans. Why do we have to deal with Supplementary Estimates to do
things that should have been done in the Main Estimates?
Mr. Neville: There are a number of reasons for that. These matters may have been
discussed when the Main Estimates were being prepared, but the details may not
have been finalized. I must say that the amount set out in the Supplementary
Estimates (C) will be included in the Estimates for future years. There will be
an amount for 1990-2000 and also for 2000-01.
The costs for the next three years are broken down clearly in the Estimates.
There are also the expenditures for 1998-99. Could they have had this
information ready in time for the Main Estimates? Some would say yes, and
others, no. These amounts were not ready for inclusion in the Main Estimates.
That is why they are appearing in the Estimates for 1998-99.
Senator Robichaud: What is the rush? Why not wait until the next budget?
Mr. Neville: Because these expenditures were made during 1998 and 1999, and they
have to be paid.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: They bought on credit.
Senator Bolduc: What you are actually asking us to do is settle the account.
Mr. Neville: Expenditures were incurred, and they must be repaid.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: They took money from taxpayers and from people who are
starving to death.
Mr. Neville: Treasury Board has already approved these expenditures, and we now
have to ask for Parliament's approval.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Did you say that part of those expenses were for the
construction of a visitors' facility?
Mr. Neville: Yes. It is for the completion of the visitors' centre by adding a
modest theatre and refreshment area. There will also be a stand-alone site for
visitors when the grounds are closed.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: My understanding was that the operation and renovation
of certain government-owned residences was the responsibility of the National
Capital Commission and the costs would come out of its budget.
Mr. Neville: This is probably more inside work.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Inside an existing building. It is not a wing or an
Mr. Neville: It says, complete the visitors' centre. So I take it that the
centre is already there and it is just a question of adding to it. Perhaps the
upkeep is with the NCC.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: Would you find out and send us a note on it?
Mr. Neville: Sure.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: It may seem trivial, but usually these works are done by
the National Capital Commission out of its budget.
Mr. Neville: It was my understanding that the National Capital Commission is
responsible for the upkeep of the grounds, but we will look into it and we will
get back to you.
Senator Lynch-Staunton: I was a member of something called the Official
Residences Council at one time, which was a voluntary adjunct of the NCC.
Everything that went on in the eight or nine official residences was pretty
much under the authority of the NCC, but maybe it has changed since.
Mr. Neville: Rather than speculate, we will find out and get back to you.
Senator Robichaud: Do you have figures on the expenditures anticipated in the
Capital Region and at the Citadel in Quebec City?
Mr. Neville: I do not have that information. I just have a total figure.
Senator Fraser: I have two remarks and one question. In connection with the
issue of foreign aid, I will point out that I have spent a great portion of my
life living in the Third World. While I agree that we must make every possible
effort to ensure that our money is well spent, we have to be aware that
conditions in many of those countries do not lend themselves to the kind of
absolutely rigorous cost accounting and tracking that we do here. In some
cases, it would cost as much to track the spending on a village well as it
would to dig it. No matter how severe the conditions may be in certain parts of
Canada, there is nowhere in this country where the need is as great as it is in
many parts of the rest of the world. We owe it to ourselves, as civilized
beings, to continue trying to help.
I strongly endorse Senator Lynch-Staunton's request that we have two columns
added in mains, so that the first column would show last year's mains, the
second, last year's mains plus supps, and the third, last year's total, then
move on to this year's. I understand this has not been the tradition, but it is
almost impossible for senators on this committee to juggle all of the necessary
documents to get a realistic picture of what is going on.
First, I am not sure that a three-year tracking would fit on a page, and I am
not sure it would be that helpful even if it would, because the mandates of
programs change over time. However, it would be very helpful to do that from
year to year.
Senator Bolduc: Technically speaking, it might be difficult to do exactly what
you wish, but perhaps we could have a separate sheet.
Mr. Neville: Our commitment to you is to provide that. We do will do that.
The Chairman: I agree that that is needed. It is not that difficult, because you
are providing it on a separate sheet. For historical comparison, you go back
three years, then as you go along you drop a year. You have that single sheet
showing the last three years. I appreciate things will change, but for that
purpose it is important.
Mr. Neville: In a Canadian tradition of compromise, let's agree to try it once
and see how that works. We will take it from there.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Senator Fraser: On page 77, I am utterly mystified by what is going on in
connection with student loans and student financial assistance. We are
discussing very large sums of money here and I do not know what we are talking
Mr. Neville: On page 77, where all those numbers appear, from a statutory point
of view, you have adjustments to what was previously forecasted by the
Department of Finance and HRI. In each case, we provide the expected
expenditures at the beginning of the year in the estimates. We do not ask
Parliament to vote, but we basically inform it of what the planned expenditures
When we come to Supplementary Estimates (C), we try to refine those forecasts.
Those numbers are not transfers. In each case, they stand alone. With respect
to payments pursuant to Section 17.1 to collection agencies, there is an
adjustment here of $25 million. With respect to the Canada Student Loans Act
for interest payments, it is an additional $28 million.
Senator Fraser: What happened?
Mr. Neville: It is a refinement.
Senator Fraser: It is a huge refinement. We are going from $5.5 million to $28.2
Mr. Neville: The offset in one is not being transferred to another account. In
other words, each one is on its own and is provided for information.
I suggest that you look at page 78, the third line under "Explanation of
Requirement"; "Increased requirements for Canada Student Loans
Program." The total of those is a net $5.7 million. You have the pluses
and minuses for all of the components of the Canada Student Loans Act. That is
the way we show it in the estimates, so that we are now updating that with more
current information. The net result is $5.7 million.
Senator Fraser: I am trying to understand what happens to produce these, in some
cases, very large swings.
Mr. Neville: In this case, the costs are related to the collection of student
loans in default. That is basically what it comes down to.
The Chairman: You are saying it is due to default on Canada student loans?
Mr. Neville: There are several components, but the collection of defaulted
Canada student loans is one of them. That is pursuant to the Financial
Administration Act. You should take into consideration the average prime rate
and the fact that amounts borrowed were higher than forecasted. The decrease is
largely due to a significant decline in the number and amounts of claims from
the banks, and collection costs being shown as a separate statutory item.
Senator Fraser: Do you mean our students are getting more honest?
Mr. Neville: No, we have stopped making direct loans to individuals. We now work
through the banks.
Senator Fraser: So they do it?
Mr. Neville: Yes. Therefore we should see that decreasing over time. We have
changed the approach to Canada student loans.
The Chairman: We passed an act last year that prevented students from declaring
bankruptcy for 10 years.
Mr. Neville: We have now shifted that responsibility to the banks. We work with
the banks, as opposed to directly with the students, so we should be seeing a
Senator Bolduc: This is a statutory program, by the way.
Senator Fraser: I know, but I am new, Senator Bolduc. I am trying to learn a
whole lot on the fly, and these poor gentlemen, wittingly or not, are my
Grants to the trustees of registered education savings plans. We pay? I thought
those were private plans.
Mr. Neville: No. A new registered education savings plan was introduced in which
the government contributes a specific amount, up to 20 percent of the deposit,
with a maximum, I believe, of $2,000 per individual.
Senator Fraser: That is going very well. At $277 million, it is a very popular
Mr. Neville: Yes, a very popular program.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Senator Robichaud has asked some of the questions I was
planning to ask the Governor General. On page 71 of the English version, I see
that the Governor General is requesting $1,204,000 in the Supplementary
Estimates. I am not questioning the item regarding collective bargaining at
It is normal that every department presents a budget, but presenting
supplementary requests seems to be an encouragement to use your brain to find
new ways of spending money. You know that people find it very easy to do that
sort of thing.
Last year the Governor General came back and asked for an extra $1 million.
Knowing that the Governor General does not pay any income tax, it may be that
money does not mean the same thing to him as it does to the taxpayers.
Senator Cools: That used to be there because the Governor General's income did
not amount to much.
Mr. Neville: The amount of the proposed expenditures in Supplementary Estimates
(C) does not relate to the Governor General's personal salary.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a process whereby each request or submission is
vetted and then ratified by Treasury Board. I can assure you that there has
been a vetting of these requests.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: Do you not think those requests should be made when a
department or a minister presents a budget?
Mr. Neville: Again, we had that discussion, but if I could refresh your memory,
the Main Estimates are prepared during the period December, January, February
of a year prior to the beginning of the fiscal year itself. There is a gap
between the time the Main Estimates are tabled, which is no later than March 1
of the year, and the beginning of the fiscal year, which is a month later. Then
during the course of the year in question expenditures can occur as a result of
unplanned and unanticipated events. There can be changes in government
programs, which can necessitate additional funding, resulting in the rationale
for having Supplementary Estimates, whether they be (A), (B) or (C).
Senator Lavoie-Roux: It seems to me that you encourage everybody to say, "Do
not worry too much, we can always fall back on a supplementary budget." A
good example of that is the Senate and Parliament, which asked for an extra $2
million. You tell them, "Do not worry, we will have more money for you if
you want it."
I want to say that I am not in agreement with extra funding on the Senate side
or on the Governor General's side. Will the Governor General come back next
year and ask for another $1.5 million? How far will we go? I have not had time
to research back two or three years. I would have to do that.
The Chairman: If I may make a suggestion, let us ask for that information, then,
year over year for the last three years.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: For the last five years. We will see what the last Governor
General was doing and what the present Governor General is doing.
Nobody in the Senate has explained to me why we need an extra $2 million.
Mr. Neville: Questions regarding the financial requirements of the Senate should
be directed to its Chief Administrative Officer because expenditures of the
Senate are not subject to the review of the Treasury Board. Such requirements
are included in the Estimates, which come before Parliament for approval, on
behalf of the Senate by the President of the Treasury Board as a customary
Senator Bolduc: I would like to come back to a more general question. We get
three Supplementary Estimates a year. Technically speaking, if we had only two,
would there be anymore discipline in reviewing requests that are not urgent?
I remember that in the 60s, the budget was prepared and decisions made in
February. A few things came up during the year, and there may have been a few
major events, and then departments presented two or three supplementary items,
no more. That is no longer the case. Governments function all week long and
decisions are made. Programs are changed at any time whatsoever throughout the
year, and in the end, we pick up the tab. People are no longer doing budgets. We
need to put our foot down and solve this problem once and for all by requiring
more discipline. There are examples here of situations that are not urgent. Why
were these expenditures not included in the Main Estimates? There is a good
reason for that: in the case of the Supplementary Estimates, there is no
political debate, whereas in the case of the Main Estimates, someone would
notice that a 12 per cent increase for a particular item was too much.
I am not denying the competence of the President of Treasury Board. He is very
competent. He has been doing that job for two or three years and now that
revenues are coming in, he is becoming a little softer. The size of the
government bothers him less than it did initially. Three years ago, he thought
the government was too big. The size of the government has gone back to what it
was when he came in. In 1994, expenditures totalled $153 billion, and now we
are heading toward $157 billion. In four years, expenditures have dropped by
barely 2 per cent, and I include in that the regular budgets.
We cannot say that this is where the changes have occurred. They occurred in the
area of taxation, because revenues were flowing in and the economy was
relatively prosperous. I don't want to get into a political debate. I will do
that in the Senate chamber.
I think it is essential that we restore some discipline to decision-making and
that we distinguish between what is urgent and what is not. The Supplementary
Estimates should contain major changes in programs.
In the case of CIDA, for example, the government could decide that in the future
it would help out the poorest countries on a multilateral basis. I understand
that changes can be made in the context of a royal commission, but I think more
discipline is required. It seems to me that the government is getting out of
Senator Robichaud: I am not convinced of that.
The Chairman: That should be addressed to the minister. As with Senator Ferretti
Barth, I love your passion.
Mr. Neville: I would be pleased to pass on your message to my Minister.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I agree with Senator Bolduc.
The Chairman: Last night I asked about Y2K costs, which is an ongoing concern.
Are they escalating; are they creeping up? What were they in Supplementary
Estimates (B), and now what are they in Supplementary Estimates (C)? I would
hope that when you come back with Supplementary Estimates (A) on next year's
budget we are looking at that issue again.
Mr. Neville: In a general sense, if I were to give you a state of government
readiness with respect to Y2K and then deal specifically with some of the
costs, essential federal services are expected to be ready for the year 2000.
That is good news. The Canadian government has a comprehensive, aggressive work
plan in place, and efforts to repair key systems are on schedule. At this time,
84 percent of the work on key federal services is complete.
Senator Robichaud: Ready for the year 2000?
Mr. Neville: Correct. Canada remains a world leader in its year 2000
preparations. A well-respected international consortium says that the Canadian
and U.S. governments are more than 40 per cent ahead of any other government in
Senator Mahovlich: Ahead of Sweden?
Mr. Neville: Ahead of any other government in the world. That is what it
implies. The government is committed to being transparent and to making
information accessible to the public. To this end, the Treasury Board
Secretariat releases a federal government monthly year 2000 report. That report
is available on the Internet. I recommend that you do make yourselves aware of
it, in terms of its content, so that you can share the information.
Industry Canada is also working with Statistics Canada on the next year 2000
survey of Canadian businesses, which will be completed in April 1999. For the
Supplementary Estimates (C), there is a request for an additional $166 million.
That is broken down into five components. The government's strategy for
addressing the year 2000 bug may be viewed as taking care of government-wide and
departmental mission critical systems and the compliance thereof. At this point
in Supplementary Estimates (C), we are anticipating up to $126 million; for the
total project over time, close to $617 million.
The second component is for horizontal issues, such as central administration.
Again, in Supplementary Estimates (C) we are talking close to $7 million, $65
million over the total time frame allowed. Supplementary Estimates (C) for
international issues is $3.7 million, for a total of $12.3 million.
For private-sector awareness, the amount is $7.7 million, for a total of $21
million over the time-frame. Contingency planning is $22.7 million as part of
Supplementary Estimates (C), for a total of $41.9 million. If you add them all
up, for Supplementary Estimates (C) it adds up to about $166.3 million. The
total cost to be dispersed over and above the departmental cost will be $757
That forecast is the Treasury Board additional costs. You can appreciate that
departments are incurring a lot of expenditures on their own. We anticipate
that the federal government's expenditures overall for the Y2K issue will be in
the order of $2 billion.
The Chairman: Is that forecast to complete?
Mr. Neville: Forecast to complete. It is a significant issue.
The Chairman: Do you recall where we were a year ago?
Mr. Neville: We were at $1.4 billion.
The Chairman: If we are forecasting to complete at $2 billion, then where is it
really going to end up?
Mr. Neville: Each day we are getting closer.
Senator Mahovlich: This is for Canada, not the United States; correct?
Mr. Neville: This is just Canada. Let me be more precise. This is the federal
government only. It does not include the provinces, the municipalities, or the
private sector. It is a very serious issue.
Senator Mahovlich: Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
The Chairman: I raised this question regarding Y2K in the Senate the other day.
When I was in practice, I found that when I was doing a large project I could
go through 90 per cent of the project in virtually 20 per cent of the time. The
last 10 per cent of the project could take as much as 80 per cent of the time.
Here we are in mid-March, and we are at 84 per cent along that time frame. Are
you comfortable, because I am not, with that last 10 per cent?
Mr. Neville: I do not think anybody is ever 100 per cent comfortable. My
colleagues are sharing with me their thoughts and their knowledge, and they are
saying that by June 30 we should be in a situation to do a lot of the testing
to bring us into compliance prior to January 1. We probably will not have the
serious problems that we were anticipating a year ago. We will still have some
problems, but they will not be as serious as we anticipated a year ago. We
still have this timeline, and we are trying to aim for June 30 as the period
when we can have most of the systems in place to do the testing. That leaves us
that period of time between June 30 and December 31 to try to iron out any
We are confident at this point that we will not have the serious problems that
we had anticipated previously.
There are a couple of examples. Employment Insurance, Old Age Security and the
Canada Pension Plan are at this point 100 per cent Y2K compliant, which is
important in order to get cheques out. Revenue Canada, Customs, border service
systems, the individual income tax system, the corporate tax system, the GST
and the child tax benefit system are all 100 per cent Y2K compliant. The Tax
Court appeals management system is 100 per cent Y2K compliant. We have had some
successes to date. We must build on those successes and share that information.
Senator Bolduc: Air traffic control?
Mr. Neville: Air traffic control is now, as you know, under the private sector
with NAV CANADA, but we are monitoring that and there are meetings on an
The Chairman: You tell a good story. What is the bad story?
Mr. Neville: From the federal government's perspective, I do not have a bad
story to tell.
Senator Bolduc: I heard somewhere that for Canada, both in the private and the
public sectors, to be Y2K compliant it would cost something in the area of $6
The Chairman: My last concern is that the government has devoted $4 billion to
early leave taking. There was a cost recovery within three years that paid for
that, and we feel good about that.
On the other hand, there a large number of civil servants are eligible for
retirement, as much as 70 per cent in the next five years. You cannot answer
this question because nobody knows as yet, but the federal government stated
the other day that it will offer incentives and bonuses to those who are
eligible for retirement to remain. That was reported in The Ottawa Citizen.
There are incentives to retire, and now we will have this problem of 70 per cent
being eligible for retirement and we will have to offer them incentives to
stay. I understand in the rush to zero that that may have been necessary. Are
we developing a method of tracking this? Will it cost us money to do this? Have
we done any contingency planning? The answer so far is no.
Mr. Neville: Let me state a personal point of view here. I have not been offered
an incentive to stay.
The Chairman: The formula is such that you can retire after 55.
Mr. Neville: If at age 55 you have a total of 30 years of service, there is no
penalty to retire. In other words, you are eligible for 30 times 2 per cent for
every year you worked of your best six years' salary. That would determine your
pension effective the next day if you were to leave. So, there is no incentive
in that sense to stay.
The Chairman: That is my exact point. The number is quite staggering. You can
read the report that this committee produced.
Mr. Neville: I have taken the opportunity of reading the report, yes.
The Chairman: Please take that concern back with you, because it is a rather
serious concern, one that we should be addressing but which we have not
addressed. I hope this committee will want to track that.
Mr. Neville: Without getting into a lot of discussion on that particular point,
but trying to make sure that you are aware that some work has already been
done, we are sensitive to that. We have been tracking that. The demographics
speak for themselves.
There is an initiative called la Relève that has taken hold, wherein
departments are responsible for implementing their own La Relève plan,
as we have ourselves. It deals specifically with ensuring that necessary
succession planning steps are put in place, that mechanisms and individuals are
in place to deal with that issue.
The Chairman: This committee will want to track that. There is no better way to
track it, aside from asking the minister. It is important that we do track it
and monitor it. It is not sufficient to do the report and then forget about it.
La Relève is a good concept, but it will take time to evolve. You cannot
do these things instantly. We still have to monitor.
I would ask you to report to us on each supplementary that comes down the track
over the next couple of years, as well as that rolling year to year with regard
to the Supplementary and Main Estimates.
Senator Bolduc: With that 70 per cent possibility of people leaving, we lose a
tremendous amount of experience. In terms of knowledge of the pressure groups
that come to the government asking for everything, you lose the whole story of
each of those groups coming to the government for advantages and benefits. In
some cases, only a few civil servants know the whole story and can give sound
governmental advice. In my opinion, that is the most tragic aspect of it.
Senator Robichaud: I do have confidence in the next generation.
Senator Bolduc: Yes, but she does not come with experience. She comes with
knowledge. That is quite different.
Mr. Neville: We share that concern obviously. We spent a lot of time on it and
we are very much dedicated to dealing with that issue.
The Chairman: It would help this committee very much and make us feel a lot more
comfortable if that report were forthcoming every time you were here.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Senator Cools: I am proposing that we pronounce first on Supplementary Estimates
(C), then on the Main Estimates.
I move that we approve the Supplementary Estimates (C) 1998-1999 and that we
report that on Tuesday.
The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: I am abstaining.
The Chairman: Carried.
Senator Cools: I also move that we approve the Main Estimates 1998-1999 and that
we report that to the Senate on Tuesday as well.
The Chairman: Is it agreed, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Carried.
Senator Cools: Having done that, our researcher, Mr. Beaumier, is charged with
drafting a report. Before that report is actually introduced in the chamber, I
would like to take a good look at it. I would ask for leave of my colleagues to
leave that with me.
The Chairman: As with the "Report on Retention and Compensation Issues in
the Public Service," wherein we ensured that everyone would receive a copy
prior to its being tabled, to be consistent we should do the same thing here.
Senator Cools: Absolutely.
The Chairman: When would it be distributed to committee members?
Mr. Beaumier, Researcher, Parliament of Canada: I should have the English
version by tomorrow morning, which I will then send out for translation. That
is the version I normally send to the chairman and the vice-chairman. It would
be easier if we titled it "Final Report on the Main Estimates" and "Report
on the Supplementary Estimates."
Senator Cools: I would prefer if it were done as two reports. It seems to me
that every question in the Senate has to be considered one at a time. Suppose,
for example, someone wanted to vote for one and not the other?
The Chairman: I am not really hung up on this.
Senator Cools: I would prefer two reports. It would give the chamber an
opportunity to pronounce on one and then the other.
The Chairman: The normal distribution, as the researcher has said, is to the
chairman and the vice-chairman. Do other members wish to receive it?
Senator Cools: Everybody should.
The Chairman: English only, tomorrow by noon.
Senator Robichaud: When will we get the French version?
Senator Cools: The copies in French are under control. He just said that they
will be ready.
Mr. Beaumier, Researcher: I wrote the report in English. I sent the chairman a
copy in English, and we should be receiving the French version on Monday or
Tuesday. We are pushing for that, but it is difficult.
Senator Lavoie-Roux: If we want to table our report, we have to do so in both
Senator Bolduc: When we receive the report, either we will have comments or we
will not have comments. If we do have comments, we will have a meeting on
Tuesday afternoon, or something like that.
Senator Cools: Excellent. Thank you very much, Senator Bolduc. Over the past
year, I have been trying to have those reports before us so that when we are
actually approving them we have a document in front of us. Mr. Beaumier has
been very cooperative to be able to facilitate that.
In this particular instance, we are under very severe time constraints because
we have this report, which will be followed by two supply bills. We have two
supply bills coming in the next few days.
The Chairman: Now I see your urgency.
Senator Fraser: It is appropriate to circulate reports to members of the
committee ahead of time. If that is practice, it should also be practice to set
a very firm deadline for us to comment. I would suggest that, in future, there
should be a firm practice to circulate English and French versions in time for
substantive consideration of both versions. It will not be the practice this
time, we understand that.
The Chairman: Under normal circumstances, we can do that. If there are three
Supplementaries, (A), (B) and (C), we can do that. The difficulty arises when
you get to the last supplementary at the end of the fiscal year.
Senator Cools: And the interim, where you have the two coming together the same
week, is also a problem.
Senator Fraser: I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman, but look at it the other way
around. If our report were written only in French, a number of committee
members would feel very hard-pressed.
The Chairman: I do not disagree with you, but I do not how to solve the problem
in this instance, unless we delay the tabling.
Senator Fraser: We are talking about a document that is going to be ready
tomorrow around noon. I do not understand why it cannot be translated faster
Senator Cools: Senator Fraser's concerns are wellconsidered and the staff will
heed them. It is the intention and the hope of this committee at all times to
do things in a proper fashion.
All the translated documents will be in members' hands. All members will be able
to look at the document.
Perhaps now we can address the issue of how we can express the entire
committee's approval of those documents prior to their introduction in the
chamber on Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock. I would propose the following. As
soon as colleagues receive those reports in their hands, if they have any
objections they should speak to us forthwith. We can set a time limit, say, noon
Tuesday. If necessary, we could have a very fast meeting before we go into the
Senator Fraser: I am sure the document will be somewhere in the computer
The Chairman: If someone calls before noon with a concern, we would hold a quick
meeting in the afternoon. Once any changes have been agreed to, should there by
any, the technical part comes in, whereby those changes have to be made to the
French and English versions of the report in time to table them in the chamber
Senator Cools: That is not quite what I meant. If people have a problem before
twelve o'clock, they can communicate it to us. The changes could be made on the
computer and then that document could be shown to members in time to go into
The Chairman: What if someone does not agree with the changes?
Senator Cools: Then we have a problem.
Senator Fraser: Perhaps we need to set our deadline a little earlier, say ten
o'clock on Tuesday morning.
The Chairman: I do not think there will be a problem, but I do not want to set a
Senator Cools: I have begun by getting leave of my colleagues to leave the final
decision with me, so the ground has been covered.
Supplementary Estimates are closed. I would like to remind everyone, Mr.
Chairman, that at some point soon we will have to have a consideration on the
Main Estimates, to be able to meet the interim supply bill. I leave that with
The Chairman: That is the Main Estimates for which year?
Senator Cools: That is for 1999-2000.
The Chairman: The confusion lies in which Main Estimates we are looking at. We
are finished with the Main Estimates of 1998-1999. Now there is a supply bill
for the Main Estimates of 1999-2000.
Senator Cools: First, we have a supply bill on the Supplementary Estimates. That
bill does not come here. I speak to that in the chamber. However, that cannot
move ahead until this is dealt with. That is the urgency.
Also, related to the Main Estimates, we will be having the first supply bill,
which is called interim supply. We will have to have at least one meeting on
the Main Estimates.
The Chairman: The Main Estimates of what year?
Senator Cools: We are finished with the Main Estimates for 1998-1999. It is the
Main Estimates 1999-2000 to which I am referring.
The Chairman: We have two supply bills, one for the current fiscal year and one
for the next fiscal year.
Senator Cools: Precisely. Next week we will have a supply bill, one based on
Supplementary Estimates (C), which we have just approved, and the other based
on the interim supply for the first three months on the new Main Estimates. We
have not received that bill yet.
In addition to that, we have Bill C-43. I would like to deal with our scheduling
for next week and the witnesses that propose to hear from and those our
colleagues are proposing for next Wednesday.
The Chairman: We will start at 5:30 and go right through.
Senator Cools: Perhaps we could discuss the list of witnesses. I saw your list,
but I thought you might be interested in some of the ones that we may be
interested in hearing, and then we can determine who the committee should hear
The Chairman: The list as proposed is before you.
Senator Cools: On your list are three witnesses that our side is prepared to
hear. They are the Fraser Institute, the Customs Brokers Association, and the
Canadian Tax Foundation. We would be satisfied to hear those three.
The Chairman: Is there anyone on the list whom you would not be satisfied to
Senator Cools: I do not have any strong feelings. We have heard sufficiently
from some of the unions.
The Chairman: Can you name those that you do not wish to hear?
Senator Cools: I do not have the list in front of me. Perhaps we could all have
a list in front of us.
Senator Robichaud: Mr. Chairman, it is not a matter of being satisfied. If we
are satisfied with hearing three witnesses for the study of this bill, it is
not a matter of being dissatisfied with the others. It is a matter of being
satisfied with who will be coming before us.
The Chairman: I understand what you are saying, however, my point is that,
because the hearings are televised, there is increased interest and, as such,
we have requests for people to appear. Do you feel that the committee does not
need to hear from these individuals or groups?
Senator Cools: Mr. Chairman, you are moving into unnecessary ground. The
committee has been very cooperative; it has indicated that we are willing to
hear the witnesses we can hear in the time that we have left. What we have to
resolve is this: How many hours do we wish to meet next Wednesday? How many
witnesses do we actually wish to hear? And how we will appropriately use
Our side is prepared to support hearing the proposals made largely by you of the
Fraser Institute, the Customs Brokers Association and the Canadian Tax
Foundation. We would be happy to complete the study of the bill with those
The Chairman: As I understand it, then, you would not be willing to hear from
the Canadian Labour Congress?
Senator Cools: We did not say that.
The Chairman: It is important for us to at least put on the record that those
that will not be invited are the following.
Senator Cools: No, Mr. Chairman. There is no need to do anything of the sort.
Those three names that were just given to you were proposed by you. We are
prepared to support those three that you chose. If we want to hear four
witnesses, you have to tell us what your proposal is. If you do not want these
three, we may be prepared to support another three that you have proposed.
The Chairman: The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Labour
Congress are not on that acceptance as far as you are concerned?
Senator Cools: I did not say that at all. I have never said that.
The Chairman: What are you saying, then?
Senator Cools: Let us determine how much time we have next Wednesday.
The Chairman: We have the whole evening.
Senator Cools: Very well. Is the committee willing to sit next Wednesday from
5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.?
The Chairman: You had said last night that you were.
Senator Cools: I am, but I am asking the committee. I am trying to get
consensus, Mr. Chairman. For that reason, then, we can hear more than three
The Chairman: It is important because of the profile this bill now has out
Senator Cools: Our understanding is that on Thursday we will hear no witnesses
but that we shall proceed on a clause-by-clause and take as much time as we
need on clause-by-clause.
The Chairman: The motion read that you would report the bill.
Senator Cools: I know what the motion said, but I am not talking about the
motion of yesterday. I may be talking about the motion of today.
The Chairman: You made a very distinct motion as to when we were going to report
Senator Cools: Precisely, but we are not now discussing the business of
reporting the bill. We are now discussing the business of the subject-matter of
the next two meetings.
The Chairman: Yes, I understand that, but that was a part of your motion last
Senator Cools: No, the motion spoke to the question of when the bill would be
reported. What we are trying to decide now, Mr. Chairman, is the important
business of what we are doing actually; in other words, what will be the agenda
of next Wednesday's meeting and next Thursday's meeting.
The Chairman: To make it clear, you are intending to complete clause-by-clause
by the end of Thursday's meeting; correct?
Senator Cools: When you say by the end of that meeting, that would be my wish;
in other words, that clause-by-clause would be completed during the meeting and
that when we rise from the meeting that we report the bill that afternoon.
The Chairman: As I understand it, that was the motion that was passed last
Senator Cools: The motion just set out a timeline. Are we all in agreement?
The Chairman: I am not in agreement.
Senator Cools: If you are not in agreement, then you have to say so.
The Chairman: I am not in agreement, and we said so last night in your motion.
Be that as it may, the majority rules in a democracy.
Senator Cools: I wanted us to be quite clear that we had our work planned for
next week on Bill C-43.
The Chairman: We are having a great deal of difficulty with procedure with
respect to this study that we are trying to do. We were going to put forward a
motion in the Finance Committee for a reference from the Main Estimates so that
we could have an official base from which to operate.
Senator Cools has placed an objection to this, as I understand it. Is that
correct, Senator Cools?
Senator Cools: I have not placed any objection within this committee to what you
are talking about. I do not think that the committee is apprised of what you
are talking about.
The Chairman: In normal procedure, to carry out a study under the Main Estimates
there is a reference that is approved by the Finance Committee so that the
subcommittee can carry out its work.
Senator Cools: Not quite. What you are referring to is an idea of a motion that
you have that the clerk of the committee showed to me. I thought that it should
be done and could be done in a much better way. That has not been placed on the
record here, so we cannot be talking about something that is not before us.
I would submit to you, then, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps you and I can sit
together and discuss this.
The Chairman: I am not prepared to do that any more. You need to tell us what is
Senator Cools: I do not have anything in front of me.
The Chairman: We gave you that, and if you do not have it, we will give you
another copy. We need to hear from you what is acceptable to you.
Senator Cools: Absolutely.
The Chairman: We will then present it to this committee for their approval
because it is really quite frustrating.
Senator Cools: I do not see why it is. I am sorry that it is. If you wish to
proceed differently, that is okay. If you give me a copy of it, I will be happy
to discuss it.
The Chairman: The point is that you need to come back to the clerk with what you
think the motion should be. If we can get it approved, then we are gone.
Senator Cools: Absolutely. The spirit of what you want to do is very well