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.

[English]

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 understand.

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 last night.

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 example.

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 increase.

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 Supplementary Estimates.

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 beginning.

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.

[Translation]

Senator Ferretti Barth: I'm interested in the Canadian International Development Agency. It is requesting a 9 per cent increase in the Supplementary Estimates (C).

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 Latin America.

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 assistance?

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 expenditures.

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 position ourselves.

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.

[English]

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 detail.

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 accident.

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 these costs.

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 investigation?

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 very beginning.

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 question?

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, and C.

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 books.

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 Estimates.

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 bad.

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.

[Translation]

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.

[English]

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 addition?

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.

[Translation]

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.

[English]

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 about.

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 are.

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 million.

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 decrease.

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 instructors.

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 program.

Mr. Neville: Yes, a very popular program.

[Translation]

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 all.

[English]

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 courtesy.

[Translation]

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 control.

Senator Robichaud: I am not convinced of that.

[English]

The Chairman: That should be addressed to the minister. As with Senator Ferretti Barth, I love your passion.

[Translation]

Mr. Neville: I would be pleased to pass on your message to my Minister.

Senator Lavoie-Roux: I agree with Senator Bolduc.

[English]

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 the world.

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 million.

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 problems.

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 ongoing basis.

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 billion.

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.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: I do have confidence in the next generation.

[English]

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.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: When will we get the French version?

[English]

Senator Cools: The copies in French are under control. He just said that they will be ready.

[Translation]

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 official languages.

[English]

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 than that.

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 chamber.

Senator Fraser: I am sure the document will be somewhere in the computer network.

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 that day.

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 chamber.

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 precedent.

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 you.

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 from.

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 hear from?

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 Thursday morning?

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 three witnesses.

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 witnesses.

The Chairman: It is important because of the profile this bill now has out there.

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 the bill.

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 night.

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 night.

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 acceptable.

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 supported.

The committee adjourned.