Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance

Issue 1 - Evidence, November 26, 2002


OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 9:31 a.m. to examine the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003.

Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, our witnesses today have both made frequent appearances before this committee: Mr. Richard Neville and Mr. David Bickerton from the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Mr. Neville, please proceed.

Mr. Richard J. Neville, Deputy Comptroller General, Comptrollership Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat: Mr. Chairman, honourable senators, I appear before you today to discuss the government's Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year 2002-03 that were tabled in Parliament on October 31, 2002. I am pleased that Mr. David Bickerton, Executive Director of the Expenditure Operations and Estimates Directorate, is joining me today.

[Translation]

Let me begin by stating that from a fiscal planning perspective, these Supplementary Estimates (A) seek Parliament's approval to spend $3.8 billion on expenditures (voted appropriations) for 2002-2003.

These expenditures were not included in the 2002-2003 Main Estimates because they were not sufficiently developed or known when the Main Estimates were prepared. However, they are provided for within the $169.9 billion in overall planning for 2002-2003 as set out recently by the Minister of Finance in the October 2002 Economic and Fiscal Update.

It should be noted that of the total $5.8 billion in spending identified in these Supplementary Estimates (A), $2 billion represents changes to projected statutory spending from amounts forecast in the Main Estimates.

As you know, Parliament has already approved this spending in separate legislation, so this information is provided for information purposes only.

[English]

With respect to the voted requirements, $2.9 billion of the $3.8 billion, or 76 per cent for which parliamentary approval is sought, relates to the following major items: $631.6 million to the Treasury Board Secretariat to supplement other appropriations on behalf of other departments and agencies in respect of compensation for collective bargaining; $584.4 million to 71 departments and agencies under the carry-forward provision in order to meet various operational needs originally forecast for 2001-02 — the purpose of this measure is to reduce year-end spending and to improve cash management, enabling managers to carry forward from one year to another up to 5 per cent of their operating budget from the previous year; $202.7 million to 18 departments and agencies for public security and anti- terrorism initiatives; $195.7 million to the Canadian International Development Agency to meet additional grant requirements for international development assistance; $190 million to 14 departments and agencies to discharge their responsibilities in organizing events related to international summits in Canada, specifically, chairing the G8 process in 2002, including the leaders' summit in Kaninaskis, and hosting over 40 preparatory meetings of ministers and senior officials; $183.6 million to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to continue to build on the capacity of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to create and translate new knowledge for improving health; $162.5 million to Human Resources Development Canada for operating costs to administer the new direct financing arrangement for the Canada Student Loans Program and $70.6 million to increase loan recovery activities; $91.9 million to help alleviate and prevent homelessness; $147.3 million to 15 departments and agencies to fund projects related to the government's on-line strategy — the government's initiative to provide Canadians with information and services on the Internet by 2005; $135.8 million to National Defence for pay comparability for Canadian Forces and pay adjustments, and for environmental allowances for officers and non-commissioned members; $92.6 million to Veterans Affairs to cover increased disability pension costs for veterans and their dependents; $85 million to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help stimulate the production of affordable housing in urban centres and in remote communities; $75 million to Health Canada for sustainability of the Non-insured Health Benefits Program for First Nations and Inuit in 2002-03; $72 million to the Department of Justice for the continued implementation of the Canadian Firearms Program; $55.9 million to the Department of Justice and the Federal Court of Canada for additional costs related to unique legal cases; and $52.4 million to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency to implement six initiatives, including the reporting of federal construction contracts, tax measures affecting individuals, deferral of corporation tax instalments for small businesses, air travellers security charge, First Nations taxation and tax on income.

The remaining $895.1 billion, or 24 per cent, is spread among a number of other departments and agencies, the details for which are available in the Supplementary Estimates.

[Translation]

As noted earlier, $2 billion of the $5.8 billion in spending identified in these Supplementary Estimates represents adjustments to projected statutory spending that has been previously authorized by the Parliament and is provided for information purposes only. The adjustment relates to the following major items:

$1.2 billion to Export Development Corporation's (EDC) non-budgetary statutory obligations, which provides for trade finance services to support Canadian exporters and investors in some 200 markets. EDC is informing the government that its draw on the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the Canada Account (CA) for 2002-2003 will potentially be $1.5 billion instead of $300 million, less any repayment under the CA. The bulk of the potential draw- down is due to the government's decision to support the sale of regional jets, produced by Bombardier, to Northwest Airlines (150 jets) and to Air Wisconsin (75 jets).

$542.5 million to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada following the Minister of Agriculture's, Lyle Vanclief, announcement of August 19, 2002, providing farmers with an additional payment into their Net Income Stabilization Account. The payment is to help farmers manage challenges, such as the recent drought, and make the transition to a new generation of risk management programming under the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF).

$230.1 million to the Department of Finance to increase payments to the International Development Association under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act.

The remaining $57.8 million is spread among a number of other departments and agencies. The specific details are included in the Supplementary Estimates.

[English]

Before I conclude my opening remarks, I would like to discuss the Treasury Board Secretariat response to the report issued last June by this committee on the use of the Treasury Board Vote 5. I would like to thank the committee for their thoughtful analysis and recommendations.

I would like to assure you that the president and officials at the Treasury Board Secretariat have taken this report seriously. My staff and I are continuing to review the report and its recommendations. We are consulting with officials in the departments, as well as other officials within the Treasury Board Secretariat. We are also continuing our analysis of the audit note issued by the Auditor General last spring. We are reviewing each recommendation and working to determine the appropriate response. These will be presented to the president and the ministers of the Treasury Board for consideration and approval.

It is my intention to conclude our analysis and to make our recommendations to the Treasury Board early in the new year. This will result in a new policy statement and refined guidelines for use by departments and analysts at the Treasury Board Secretariat. Any changes to vote wording or other information changes should be reflected in the Main Estimates documents to be tabled in Parliament in March of 2003.

Mr. Chairman, honourable senators, I now conclude my opening remarks and welcome any questions or comments you wish me to address.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Neville.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Gentlemen, welcome again. It is always good to have you gentlemen sharing your knowledge and experience in order to give us a better understanding of certain departments.

I have a number of questions. The main one has to do with World Youth Day 2002. Scattered amongst various departments and agencies — and I have counted five of them and agencies — Customs, Citizenship, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Tourism — are various amounts of funds totalling $9.435 million. When we were studying the last Supplementary Estimates, there was an item where Customs forgave the visa fee and other items for delegates coming to the World Youth Day that amounted to $1 million, I think, among other items. How much to date has World Youth Day cost the government?

Mr. Neville: The best way to deal with that question is to tell you specifically that which is in the Supplementary Estimates for World Youth Day 2002. That amount is $7.682 million.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I have $9.435 million.

Mr. Neville: As you are aware, Toronto hosted the Seventeenth World Youth Day in July of 2002. The event was organized by the Holy See and is the largest gathering of young people aged 16 to 35 in the world.

In 1998, the federal government, the Ontario government and the City of Toronto agreed to support the bid of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for putting on the event in Toronto. The Government of Canada did provide operational support to the event, as well as making a $1 million contribution to finance the operations of the national office on a matching funds basis with the province and the city. The Government of Canada, as you can appreciate, had a facilitator role. It was a partner with the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto in the organizing committee.

To be specific, in terms of the make-up, the costs were incurred by Canada Customs and Revenue Agency in the amount of $1 million, Citizenship and Immigration for $1.8 million, Canadian Tourism Commission for $2.5 million, Foreign Affairs and International Trade for $1.9 million and National Defence for $500,000. These related to the individual departments.

In terms of the resource profile, funding to date for the year 2000-01 was $1 million for Foreign Affairs and International Trade. There was no specific amount in the Main Estimates. As I mentioned earlier, Supplementary Estimates (A) for 2002-2003 was $7.7 million. The funding to date would be a little over $8.7 million.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: We do not agree on the figures. However, we will not quibble over it. Once the government agrees to support an activity, is the amount available open-ended? It seems to me that there would be some form of budget whereby, if other governments were participating, each would share according to a budget. We would then be called on to pay any excesses. This case appears similar to the firearms thing. Originally, we were committed to $85 million, and now we are up to $1 billion. Is there no limit or cap on expenditures associated with events such as these?

Mr. Neville: It is a question of departments having yet to finalize all of their costs. Therefore, we will have to discuss with them the additional costs should they, in fact, put them forward. Such additional costs may very well be incorporated in their departmental estimates. They may not appear in a future Supplementary Estimates or may well be absorbed within the department concerned.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The announcement of World Youth Day in Toronto must have taken place about six years before the actual event. Do departments supporting such an event ask to have a fixed amount available for that purpose and no more? In this case, there appear to have been no controls whatsoever on the monies available for the activity.

As you have said, we may get more requests in further supplementaries for additional amounts for the same activity. I repeat myself: When we know the activity, we know the estimated cost. We know the duration. We know how many people are coming. Budgets are then fixed for that activity, and we try to stay within the budget. The amount of money available here seems to be limitless. There seems to be no control. I hope my interpretation is wrong, but if it is right, it is quite disturbing.

Mr. Neville: Where there is a requirement for additional funding, we do come to Parliament through a Supplementary Estimates process or through the Main Estimates, if so required. There are obviously many departments involved in this venture. They have all contributed in one way or another. Some have been able to absorb the cost; others have not. In that context, it is also fair to say that there was an initial plan on this event, but we are seeing additional resources being requested from Parliament.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Is there a figure showing how much the government thought its total commitment would be compared to actual expenditures?

Mr. Neville: I do not have that particular number, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Let us take one item. The Canadian Tourism Commission was slated to spend $2.5 million. That is on page 96. Have you an explanation on how that amount was spent?

Mr. Neville: Yes. With respect to the Canadian Tourism Commission, funding was provided to the CTC who partnered with the Toronto Transit Commission to promote Canada as a tourist destination. It's set marketing campaign included publication of the CTC logo and Web site link on the Toronto Transit Commission WYD ``Come out on Sunday papal mass transit pass,'' plus publication of the brochure What's On, a series of posters and a three full-page Canadian Tourism Commission advertisement in the Metro Today newspaper. We have a break out as to what each department has contributed in terms of their program activity.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why would that amount, which was known years ago, not be in the Main Estimates? Why does it come long after the event? Why do we not know these amounts before the event?

Mr. Neville: There may have been a planning number that was put forward, but it is open-ended; you do not know the actual costs until the event takes place,.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: You have answered my question. It is open-ended. You do not know the costs until the event has taken place.

Mr. Neville: In this particular case we are seeing the costs accumulate post-event, and we are seeing it reflected in the Supplementary Estimates. I certainly do not want to leave you with the impression that this may be the final cost.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I appreciate that.

Mr. Neville: There may be additional costs in a future supplementary estimate.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Is it the case that the Treasury Board is not concerned with this procedure of those responsible for contributing to World Youth Day on the federal part having no restrictions, or so it appears? I am picking on World Youth Day because it is one that stands out. We can refer to the Olympics, or go back to many other activities. This is the most current one.

Mr. Neville: I would not say there are no restrictions. We do go over each presentation in terms of their submission. We do vet it carefully. We want to ensure that what they have spent is, in fact, related to the event itself.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Do you ever say, ``No, you went too far. Find the money within your budget elsewhere'' and exert a little discipline on these well-meaning —

Mr. Neville: There is not a day that goes by that we do not say ``no'' to some department on some request.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: We laugh, but it is not funny.

That is all for now. However, I would like a second round.

The Chairman: Let us flag that issue because, as Senator Lynch-Staunton has implied, it is important for the future also. Are we not promoting the Winter Olympics for Whistler and another try by Toronto for the Summer Olympics coming up? Therefore, we may want to examine this issue in a bit more depth as to how we anticipate possible claims on the federal treasury.

Senator Cools: I believe, and honourable senators believe, that World Youth Day was a great success.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Not according to the organizers. They lost millions of dollars.

Senator Cools: It was still a great success.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The point is not the event, but how the expenditures related to the event are controlled.

Senator Cools: I understand. The senator is raising the issue of how well decisions are made and how limits are set. I did not want the record to seem to reflect that the honourable senator was against World Youth Day or the like.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: The debate is not around that at all. I appreciate your comments, however, senator.

The Chairman: Senator Cools is speaking of the spiritual dimensions of the event, and is, perhaps, better qualified than some people to discuss those.

Senator Cools: I claim my qualifications.

The Chairman: Senator Cools, you have the floor.

Senator Cools: I did not expect to be on so quickly.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Your prayers have been answered.

Senator Cools: Wonderful. God knows I pray enough.

I have a couple of questions relating to one of our favourite topics, firearms. If we look at page 109 under the Department of Justice, we see there, and in your notes as well, that you say:

There is an additional $72 million to the Department of Justice for the continued implementation of the Canadian firearms program.

That is what you said in your opening remarks. That is exactly as confirmed at page 109. I just wonder if you could clarify to the committee that this is an additional amount, because some months back — I do not remember the exact day, but we have bandied it about in this committee a lot — you actually then told the committee that the costs of this program were continuing and growing. At the time, I believe you said it had reached $689 million. I want to clarify whether this new $72 million is in addition to the $689 million? This is in addition?

Mr. Neville: Senator, the short answer is yes, but perhaps I might explain that further.

Senator Cools: I was going to ask you to explain.

Mr. Neville: You are correct. When I was here approximately a year ago, we did talk about the Canadian firearms program. I had mentioned to you that the total expenditures had reached $689.8 million.

What I would like to do today is bring you up-to-date as to what has occurred since then. There have been some adjustments, so that the total gross expenditures incurred by the Department of Justice for the administration of the program amounted to $688.3 million in 2001-02. I would like the record to show that since I was here last year, there have been some adjustments, so that the $689.8 million is now $688.3 million as at the end of 2001-02.

The Chairman: When did the clock start?

Mr. Neville: What do you mean by that, sir?

The Chairman: Was that amount for the one fiscal year?

Mr. Neville: No. That is cumulative.

The Chairman: Cumulative from when?

Mr. Neville: Since 1995. Back in November, I was predicting that the costs would be $689.8 million. The costs actually were, at the end of 2001-02, $688.3 million. Therefore I want to start off from that number as opposed to the previous number. It is close, but there is a difference of $1.5 million.

However, since that time, the authority has been provided to the Department of Justice for 2002-03 for an additional $110.7 million. Justice is expected to use the full amount, thereby bringing total gross expenditures for justice to $799 million. In addition, federal partners' total expenditures are expected to stand at $11.8 million through to the end of 2002-03. Thus this will bring the total federal gross expenditures to $810.8 million by the end of 2002-03.

We are in November of 2002. The fiscal year still continues until March 31, 2003, so there may be an adjustment required to the $810.8 million. However, that is the forecast in terms of authorities allotted to the Department of Justice and its federal partners up to the end of 2002-03.

Included within that $110 million, obviously part of the estimate supplementaries, is the $72 million. Does that answer your question?

Senator Cools: Yes, it did, and very clearly. This is one of the nice aspects of dealing with Mr. Neville. He always gives us the most up-to-date and accurate information.

I know that many other members of the committee have questions to ask. However, I mention to honourable senators that while we are looking at this subject matter, perhaps this committee should consider bringing the Minister of Justice and/or his deputy to look at this ever-growing number. At every meeting, these gentlemen come to us, because they are really the purse-keepers and the number crunchers, and they put the numbers honestly before us. Those numbers are still growing, and ever-expanding. However, I believe these gentlemen cannot answer politically, or at the policy level. I do think, perhaps, if members would be agreeable, we should look at the serious possibility of inviting the Minister of Justice himself, possibly accompanied by his deputy, to give us a proper explanation as to why the actual expenditure has outstripped in such a dramatic way the projected expenditures when Bill C-68 was passed. Otherwise, we find ourselves in a situation where Mr. Neville and Mr. Bickerton come and ask us, and every time it is another X dollars, and it keeps growing. I believe we should invite the minister to come and give us a more suitable explanation.

I have another question.

The Chairman: Far be it for me to defend the program or the amount of money being spent. However, if I understood Mr. Neville correctly, we are talking about $800 million over a period of eight fiscal years. Is that correct?

Mr. Neville: Correct.

The Chairman: Is that fiscal 1995 or fiscal 1996?

Mr. Neville: Fiscal 1995, I would say.

The Chairman: So 100 million a year, if it is averaged out.

Mr. Neville: I am not sure that it was a hundred million per year, though.

The Chairman: I know it was not.

Mr. Neville: Averaging it out.

The Chairman: Is it fair to say ask whether, at the official level, you are concerned about the growth of spending in that area?

Mr. Neville: Honourable senators, that is a valid question. From the Treasury Board Secretariat perspective, we are very concerned about this file. I do believe that if we were to discuss this in a few months, we probably would have additional information to provide. I will say that we are extremely concerned about this file.

The Chairman: The Auditor General is to report on it next week, I am told.

Senator Cools: I thought I could do it by motion. Perhaps we do not need a motion, but we know that they are concerned about the file, and we know this committee is concerned about the file. Someone should provide some explanation. I felt inspired to say that we should invite the minister to appear before us. If we need a motion to that effect, I would be quite happy to do so. There is a consensus that we can do that.

I will pass and come back again. I have some other questions, but I will give other people a chance.

Senator Comeau: I should like to continue with the questioning that was started by Senator Cools. I was doing the addition. We are now at $810 million. If we add the planning and priorities estimates for 2003-04 and 2004-05, it adds up to $95 million for 2003-04 and $80 million for 2004-05. That would bring us up to $985 million by March 2005, if I am correct.

If we are to assume that there will probably be supplementaries, and judging by the past, that would be a fair assumption, we will probably hit the $1 billion mark by March 2005. Am I being overly generous there?

Mr. Neville: I believe that what is in the RPP is factual. If you add up all of those components, there is a strong possibility that the final costs may be in that range.

Senator Comeau: I am fairly new to the committee, so do not judge me if I am straying into an area that is not your domain.

Does the Treasury Board conduct value for money audits, or is that left to other people?

Mr. Neville: The question is a fair one. We obviously have a program concern in terms of the costs. Having said that, the department is responsible, through its minister, for the program delivery. However, there is an evaluation of this particular program that is currently under way within the Department of Justice. I will say that we are looking forward immensely to seeing the results of the evaluation.

Senator Comeau: I am looking into the grand scheme of things. If I were the one calling the shots and had to spend $1 billion, would I do it on a licensing and registration implementation scheme such as we are seeing now, or would I rather spend it on housing, poverty, youth and other concerns? I am trying to determine whether someone is doing this right now and, perhaps, pulling the plug on this costly scheme. If it is has been costing $100 million a year and is growing, might this not continue to cost a huge sum year by year after it is fully implemented?

Mr. Neville: It is fair, with the comments that were raised, that we also add that you have to factor in public safety here as well. What is the right balance between the components that you have outlined and public safety? The evaluation should bring that into play.

Senator Comeau: Absolutely. Is the gun registration and licensing system actually improving public safety? That is one of the fair questions that should be asked.

Mr. Neville: We should wait to see the results of the evaluation. That would be the appropriate time to look at the results.

Senator Comeau: I was trying to wrap my mind around $72 million. It is such a staggering sum that I tried to put it into perspective. It comes out to the equivalent of being able to hire 1,000 people at $72,000 a year. That is an incredible sum. I am trying to wrap my mind around the logistics of trying to set up such an operation.

What is being planned with this $72 million?

Mr. Neville: Rather than talk about the $72 million, I will probably give it to you in a more fulsome way. Perhaps I can give you a breakdown of how the money has been spent so far by major activity. That gives you a better sense of understanding.

Program administration was $66 million. Communications and public affairs, which include the advertising, was about $29 million. I am rounding all of these numbers. An outreach program received $15 million; legislative and safety training received $9 million. In total, that means $61 million was allotted for communications and public affairs.

In terms of the Canadian firearm registration system, developing and maintaining the system and licensing and registration database had a budget of $227 million. In terms of program delivery, the central processing site in Miramichi received $59 million and the RCMP received $64 million, for a total under program delivery of $197 million. Then, there is a national weapons enforcement support team with $2.2 million.

With respect to the contributions to the provinces, under Bill C-68 there were agreements for $105 million and under Bill C-17 for $23 million, for a total of $135 million. If you add that up, that will give you $688 million. That is to give you a better understanding of the composite amounts.

Senator Comeau: Is the evaluation you are doing now, which I will call a cost-benefit evaluation, internal or do you seek the advice of parliamentarians and people who are impacted by the registry?

Mr. Neville: The department itself is doing the evaluation. I am not familiar with all of the details.

Senator Comeau: Are those who implemented the program evaluating it themselves?

Mr. Neville: It would be the department that is carrying out the evaluation, whether it is the individuals who are involved in the program or whether it is a separate section. Most departments have an internal audit and evaluation committee. It is a requirement of the Treasury Board to have such a committee. Therefore, I would expect that it would be such a committee that is carrying out the evaluation.

Senator Comeau: We will likely have to look to the Auditor General to get a feel for whether the program's benefits to Canada have been worth the dollars spent.

Mr. Neville: We are all looking to the chapter in the Auditor General's report that deals specifically with the Canadian firearms program.

[Translation]

Senator Gauthier: We will need to wait another week or two before we get an evaluation of the program's efficiency.

Mr. Neville: The Auditor General's report.

Senator Gauthier: We have a case where two individuals were killed by young people who had stolen rifles. I do not understand how it is possible to steal a rifle locked in a sealed coffer. As a comptroller, do you evaluate the efficiency of the programs?

Mr. Neville: The Treasury Board has a policy on internal audits and program evaluations. The policy establishes a process dictating that the departments need to have their own audit and evaluation committees. The committees internally make the audit and evaluation decisions within their departments. We can show them how these internal audits and evaluations should be conducted. We are responsible for implementing the policy, and for describing in detail how the policy should be implemented by the departments. It is the departments' responsibilities to ensure the internal audits and evaluations are conducted. It is also mandatory to have an annual plan. The internal audit plans are sent to us and we review them. We do not actually conduct internal audits and evaluations unless it becomes required for some reason or another. We are responsible for receiving the annual plans and for reviewing them.

Senator Gauthier: I make a distinction between the effectiveness of the program and the efficiency of the implementation of the department: that is, whether the program was effective and whether it was implemented efficiently by the civil servants while respecting the requirements of the law. As a controller, how do you implement a program to meet the desired goals? You do not evaluate the effectiveness of the program, am I right?

Mr. Neville: That is correct. Not in this context. We do work with the Privy Council to review which programs meet the government's objectives, but only at a high level.

Senator Gauthier: I remember when the position of controller was created; we had a lengthy discussion on whether or not you should be evaluating the effectiveness of the programs. The Ministry of Justice will study the efficiency of the program but that will not tell us if the program is effective.

Mr. Neville: Some years ago, the Office of the Comptroller General had a division responsible for writing up program evaluations. This division no longer exists. As you have mentioned, the responsibility has been transferred to the departments. The Treasury Board has kept the responsibility regarding policies on program evaluations and internal audits. These two policies consist of a framework for the departments to follow in order for them to meet the norms. We are in charge of the framework. Regarding program effectiveness, the Treasury Board Secretariat discuses those at length with the Privy Council Office, as to whether they meet the government's objectives.

Senator Gauthier: You report to the Treasury Board? You are not independent?

Mr. Neville: That is correct. Before, the Office of the Comptroller General reported directly to the President of the Treasury Board, but was separate from the Treasury Board Secretariat. Today my office is part of the Treasury Board Secretariat. I report directly to the Secretary of the Treasury Board and to the Comptroller General.

The Chairman: Senator Gauthier, if I am not mistaken, you chaired the House of Commons Committee on public finances in the 1990s.

Senator Bolduc: Senator Lynch-Staunton mentioned previously the Pope's meeting with Toronto's youth. Another example comes to my mind; it is the presidency of the G8.

[English]

Senator Bolduc: As you know, Canada was chair of the G8 program for 2002. We held the summit at Kananaskis. I see that we have an additional amount in the Supplementary Estimates of $190 million.

Is this the same type of situation whereby suddenly we are chairing the G8 meeting, and then we decide to host a summit which requires many preparatory meetings between the higher officials of the Foreign Affairs department in various foreign countries of the world. They then return to Canada and go to Kananaskis, along with the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, and finally we pay the $200 million bill, and that is in the budget.

Was it possible to put an indication of what the summit would cost in the 2002-03 budget? This was not the first time that we had hosted a G8 summit. We had a meeting in Toronto prior to Kananaskis, and there were meetings held in Vancouver and Halifax before that. I believe that there is a deficiency in the system. We have experience with such meetings.

We should say that we have decided it will cost $200 million to host a meeting and put it in the budget. It is just like every time the Prime Minister goes abroad for visits to India or Brazil; we know that that will cost between $50 and $100 million. There is always a program. We should decide that these amounts will no longer be treated as a debt. The pattern has become so obvious over the last 10 years. I have been here for 15 years, and it is the same thing every year. I wonder why it comes about in this way.

What we are doing here is paying bills where we committed the money a year ago. Now we are paying the bill. This is not budgeting. No private business would survive by doing things in this way. Do you not think so?

Mr. Neville: I think the question originally was: Is this the amount that is in the estimates? Yes, it is the amount that is in the estimates. Could it have been in the Main Estimates? My understanding is that the departments had not finalized their plans and, therefore, we were not in a position to put it in the Main Estimates, so we are seeing it in the Supplementary Estimates. It is related to the previous question.

Senator Bolduc: I have in front of me a valued judgment by a higher official of the Auditor General who appeared before this committee and accused government departments of withholding information by painting an overly flattering picture of departmental spending. This is a pretty serious accusation. Perhaps it is not an accusation, but it is, at least, a value judgment. The Auditor General has said that ``Too often, we find quite loosely worded statements of what is intended; statements that do not clearly state what result is to be achieved, and by when and how.''

To come back to the case in point, I have before me the firearms program that my colleagues were discussing. If we look, for example, at the plans and priorities of the Ministry of Justice for 2001-02, and if we look thereafter to the performance report of the same department, there are inconsistencies; not only one, but many. I have found at least three here. I am talking not only about the costs but also about a more general way of looking at it.

For example, in the measures of success as indicated in their departmental performance report, the Department of Justice says that, as of July 2002, two-thirds of all firearms licence holders have participated in gun registration; more than 1.1 million owners have registered their guns; more than 860,000 owners use new, simplified forms, and that 166,000 registration applications were filled out online.

In reading that, what struck me was the measure of success as indicated there. They should also indicate the measure of failure, which means that one-third of the people did not register.

The Chairman: At best.

Senator Bolduc: This only applies among the licence holders. Those who are not licence holders, what about their guns? That troubles me a lot. Registration was a bit slow in the first five years, so they decided to have online registration. Online registration is free. Those who registered by filling out the form, which is three or four pages long, and was one of the reasons many people did not file them, paid to register. However, it is free for the online registrants. With respect to those who decided to spend a lot of time filling out the registration form and paid a registration fee, will you send them a refund for the fees they paid?

Mr. Neville: Senator Bolduc made a number of points. I would like to take them in order.

The first deals with a quotation. I happened to be at that particular parliamentary committee meeting, sitting right next to the individual from the office of the Auditor General whom you quoted. The official Hansard transcript of the minutes would show that the front end of her statement was that a lot of progress has been made.

Senator Bolduc: Yes, she said that; some progress.

Mr. Neville: In terms of the reports on plans and priorities and the department performance reports, I believe that that should be brought into the discussion as the front end to her comment. That is my first point.

Second, I am not trying to be facetious; I am just trying to make a point. The senator would not have been able to make the observations that he has made if those documents had not been available. There are 192 countries in the world. OECD represents 29 of those countries, probably the most progressive countries in the world. Of the 29 countries in the OECD, probably two or three countries have the documentation that is provided to Parliament with that kind of detail by department. There are 86 reports on plans and priorities that were tabled this spring. That gives you a significant amount of information vis-à-vis the plans for that particular fiscal year. If you wish to talk about the private sector, you would never see anything of that nature coming out in terms of plans for the private sector.

Coming back to the public sector, however, in our report on plans and priorities, you have the details broken out as to what is, first, in the Main Estimates as a starting point, and then it fleshes that out in terms of the programs, then your activities. We are encouraging, urging departments to include outcomes. We are getting there. We are probably not getting there as fast as the office of the Auditor General would like us to get there, but we are certainly aiming to have in the RPPs the outcomes that we expect the department to meet during the upcoming year.

We then have at the end of the year another document called departmental report on programs, which is basically DPRs, or departmental performance reports, which basically gives you the results of the previous year. It is tabled within six months of year-end, not two or three years later as you may get in a number of countries in terms of some documentation. Within six months of the end of the fiscal year, this document is tabled. Again, 86 of those were tabled recently in the house. Therefore, if you were to look at the quality of those DPRs today versus what we had previously, there has been a significant — which is my term — improvement. I believe the office of the Auditor General would say an improvement, although perhaps not significant.

Having said that, we have much more of a results focus in those departmental performance reports than was originally the case. We are sharing the good news, and we are encouraging departments to share the bad news as well. Some departments have done it. A few departments have certainly balanced the reporting for this past year, and the office of the Auditor General would agree with that. In balancing the reporting, it is not just the good news but also the bad news that is reported. That puts you, obviously, at risk in terms of a political comment being made, or in terms of the financial or program delivery. However, we are trying to be more transparent.

I am trying to say, in short order, that we have done a lot since several years ago in terms of moving this agenda forward in terms of transparency. We have a lot more improvement still to make but we are on the right track. I think that is what the Auditor General is also trying to tell us.

Senator Bolduc: Would you agree with me that it is a bit slow in terms of progress? I know it is a big thing, 86 organizations, but would you agree with me that it is too slow? If you were to be the boss of the whole thing, would you go faster?

Mr. Neville: I am the boss of the whole thing, and I think it is going fast enough.

Senator Bolduc: You know very well what I meant. The heart of the problem is this: Do you remember you told us before that there used to be a division in the comptrollership?

Mr. Neville: The Office of the Comptroller General, right.

Senator Bolduc: What was the name of the economist in charge?

Mr. Neville: Mr. Binman, I believe.

Senator Bolduc: There was another one before him, the first one who held that office. Finally, the office was disbanded because a real question was asked about the impact of the programs. That is what we are talking about.

You were talking about efficiencies, Senator Gauthier. That was exactly what he did. In a few good reports, he tried to measure the impact of the program by comparison to the plans and priorities that were established. Finally, the position was dissolved; the system was dissolved because it was kind of a counterbalance within government, a kind of constitutionalist system within government; someone who really criticizes or evaluates what the others are doing. It was disbanded.

My feeling is that people who try to make a performance evaluation are somehow in a conflict of interest because they plan the system, and then the same people evaluate it. It is difficult. What do you think about the system itself?

Mr. Neville: In the new evaluation policy that has been set out by the Treasury Board, there is a requirement that the evaluation criteria, that is, the outcomes that are planned and what you will be measured against, will be enunciated at the front end of the program development. For a new program that is being developed today, we insist that the outcomes are at the front end in the planning stages so that it is clearly understood by all parties that they will be evaluated at the end of the program by a third party, in the sense of that third party being outside of the program responsibilities, or those who are responsible for that particular program. We have that well up front, and the Treasury Board approves it, as well, in terms of their proposals. When in two or three or four years it comes up that the program delivery has, in fact, taken place, we can evaluate against those pre-identified outcomes. That is the way we should be working it.

It is a ministerial responsibility to carry out that work. The minister is responsible for that particular program. Hence, that is where the right accountability lies: with the ministers concerned.

Senator Bolduc: But in terms of parliamentarians who are exercising a kind of oversight on the government's activities, it would be helpful if people who have the inside knowledge and the information could relate the real information to us. Do you not agree with that?

Mr. Neville: I am of the view that we do that.

Senator Bolduc: I gave you an example a minute ago. More than that, I have the priorities and performance report of the Treasury Board. I have looked at that carefully, and there are inconsistencies in it. You propose your plan in such a way, and then when you discuss the performance report it is very difficult for a layman to relate one to the other. First, they are not in the same order. I am not criticizing what you do. I know that you are trying to do your best. However, for a layman, it is difficult to understand it. On the one side, you present the program as a citizen centre service delivery, service Canada or service improvement, infrastructure program, Canada online, et cetera, and then you come to the performance, and it is not in the same arrangement.

More than that, with respect to some of these reports — and I am not referring here to your report, because your report is not too bad; it is only about 20 pages — but some of them are 80 pages. How can you imagine that we will be going through 86 reports of 80 pages? That means 5,000 pages of programming and 5,000 pages of performance reporting. It is pretty tough for individuals such as us, who are not specialists. We are just laymen trying to understand the workings of the government.

This criticism has been made before, so you are telling us now that you will put strategic outcomes at the very beginning. Looking at those strategic outcomes, they are mostly in terms of objectives, not of results or impact.

Mr. Neville: Mr. Chair, those are valid points, and I mean that sincerely. On a couple of notes of explanation, with respect to the Treasury Board Secretariat's DPR you are correct, it is in a different format from the RPP, and the reason is that during the year there was a change in our activity structure. Basically, we went to three business lines. I do not have to explain further; we changed our approach on how we are managing ourselves. There are legitimate reasons why we did that. Therefore I think it is only fair that a department that goes through that kind of a change should be reflecting in their departmental performance report at the end of the fiscal year that they have made a significant change in their way of managing during the fiscal year. Hence, it would be different from how they had planned at the outset, which was contained in the report on plans and priorities. That is good management. That is, in fact, seen as being fully transparent to everyone as to what is happening within that particular department. On that point, therefore, I really do not see a problem.

With respect to the results, though, and I am glad you pointed it out, I did say at the outset that we are trying to have departments put into their RPPs, their reports on plans and priorities, their planned outcomes. I would go further than results: one step further. Results are fine but outcomes are better, so we want them to put that in. Therefore we would be able to report on them subsequently.

I will put into the context of this discussion, if I may, a report that is called ``Canada's Performance Report, 2002.'' It is a new document that has just been tabled. We tabled it last year but it is basically new in the sense of putting together a summary, if you wish, of Canada's results for the past year, which is somewhat of a cover to all of the departmental plans and DPRs.

Senator Bolduc: I have seen that. It was recently published.

Mr. Neville: It has 19 societal indicators that are progressive in terms of giving Canada's results to Canadians and therefore sharing that information. Again, I am putting that as a chapeau to the DPRs that are out there today.

Senator Bolduc: My basic wish is that some day parliamentarians will be mature enough to receive reports of civil servants who will be mature enough to give the real picture and not just the rosy aspects.

Mr. Neville: I share that wish.

Senator Bolduc: For example, I take the documents from the Minister of Finance during the budget time. I look at all the documents carefully. That is my work and I like it, but it is always a rosy picture. We hear about the fact that the quality of life in Canada is fourth in the world, and on competitiveness we are the eighth in the world, and things like that, but no one talks about the real problems of Canada in terms of innovation and productivity, and the problems are there. I would hope that some day the civil servants will be at the service of the whole public, not only of their ministers, and that they will give us a picture of the whole thing.

Mr. Neville: I am in favour of what you say. Perhaps I can make one recommendation. There is one DPR, departmental performance report, which has been issued that we have been touting as being balanced, and which, again, I believe the Office of the Auditor General would agree is a balanced report, i.e. good news/bad news, and that is the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. It is a progressive document. I strongly recommend that you do look at it. It will give you, I think, a vision of where we would like to be.

Senator Bolduc: Even there, we have to remember that two eminent jurists said recently that their database was unconstitutional, against the Charter. They do their best but they did that, too. Finally, we did not know that our income tax files were going all over the country. It is embarrassing, I can tell you that. When we discussed that in the house — I remember that very well — they just dropped the darned thing.

Senator Mahovlich: Mr. Neville and Mr. Bickerton, I would like to bring your attention to Vote 25, the Swissair flight. You are seeking $3 million. Specifically, the committee is well aware that by the Chicago Convention, Canada will bear the entire cost of this investigation. The committee's second report, dated December 2, 1999, stated that in the longer term the committee would suggest that the government seek to change the relevant sections of the Chicago Convention, such that international carriers assume some liabilities for the investigation, and clean up the air disaster.

What effort has been undertaken by the federal government to bring changes along these lines to the Chicago Convention?

Mr. Neville: Mr. Chairman, if I could, as you can appreciate, this is an involved and complicated file. The Canadian transportation acts and the investigation and safety board are not responsible for the establishment or modification of international conventions. This responsibility lies with Transport Canada, the air policy program, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Transport Canada's permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, which governs the Chicago Convention, has informed us that no formal discussions have been undertaken to make international carriers liable for investigation and clean-up of air disasters.

The Government of Canada has not pursued this matter independently. Related ICAO discussions of fall 2001 centred on how to help underdeveloped countries that have no investigation capability to pay for investigations for which they are responsible. The priority is to ensure that investigations take place in the interests of safety, regardless of geographic location.

Senator Mahovlich: Is this also an open-ended deal? When will this investigation come to an end, or do we know?

Mr. Neville: I cannot give you a definitive time. We think it is nearing completion. On the other hand, there are still some charges that are being incurred, although significantly less than previously. We are optimistic that it will be finalized shortly, but we cannot give you a specific date.

Senator Doody: I would like to look at the Department of Finance, page 61, Mr. Neville, if I may. Perhaps you can explain what is the International Development Association? There seems to be a tremendous whack of money there; previous estimates of $200 million, new appropriation $230 million. Can you tell me what that is all about, please?

Mr. Neville: This is for $230.1 million. These are authorities given to the Department of Finance to increase payments under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act. Statutory adjustments of issuance and payments to the International Development Association are in accordance with the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, and are usually made through the Main Estimates following the conclusion of either negotiations.

Sine the negotiations were in progress when the Main Estimates were tabled, the current adjustments were not able to be included in the Main Estimates for 2002-03, and therefore were included for consideration in the Supplementary Estimates. A corresponding transfer of international assistance envelope funding from CIDA offsets this increase.

Senator Doody: CIDA transfers money from its budget for what purpose?

Mr. Neville: CIDA transfers these funds to cover off the increased statutory provision.

Senator Doody: The original estimate was approximately $200 million. The new appropriation is even more than the original estimate. Is there a breakdown on what was negotiated and why? What was the money used for?

Mr. Neville: I do not have a breakdown.

Senator Doody: Is it possible to get such a document?

Mr. Neville: I believe it is possible, Mr. Chairman. We will do our best.

Senator Doody: This is a significant amount of money with limited information in regard to same.

Mr. Neville: We must look at the components of the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act and talk to the department concerned.

Senator Doody: Is this used as a direct grant to governments or countries in other parts of the world, or used to write off bad debts? What was it used for?

Mr. Neville: Mr. Bickerton may have additional information.

Mr. David Bickerton, Executive Director, Expenditure Operations & Estimates Directorate, Comptrollership Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat: Honourable senators, the International Development Association is a body of the World Bank that provides loans to the world's poorest countries at zero interest and with a 10-year grace period. Financing is critical to poor countries' efforts to achieve sustained growth and poverty reduction. The current transfer payment was triggered by the conclusion of the International Development Association's annual negotiations. Canada has participated in these negotiations over the years where representatives from donor countries establish the total commitment. This represents Canada's share for that. We make payments to the International Development Association. They, in turn, make loans to the developing countries.

Senator Doody: Where they will eventually be written off, probably, but that is a different subject.

I would be interested in knowing who establishes the criteria for these loans or grants. Is it done through an international body? Does Canada participate in saying how or where it is spent? Is this money spent on guns or butter?

Mr. Bickerton: My understanding is that the criteria are put together and agreed to through the International Development Association. Canada is a party to that body. We would be involved in the negotiations of the establishment of the criteria.

Senator Doody: Is Canada's involvement conducted through CIDA?

Mr. Bickerton: No, the International Development Association is a body of the World Bank. This figure represents Canada's financing of our commitments to that organization.

Senator Doody: I know the International Development Association is a branch of the World Bank, but I do not know much more. Could you give us some sort of explanation or breakdown of what our involvement is, how much say we have in how this money is spent, where it goes and what it is used for?

Mr. Bickerton: We will provide that to the chair.

[Translation]

Senator Ferretti Barth: The Swissair incident is of special importance to me. I would like to really understand the issues in depth. First and foremost, the Chicago Convention is not sanctioned by the Treasure Board. Canada is still paying today for the cost of the inquiry into the disaster. I would like to know what is the total cost of the inquiry into the crash of Swissair 111?

If I am not mistaken, the cost already reaches $54 million. To which another $2 million would be added. Is that correct?

Mr. Neville: Let me verify the information. To be specific, the answer to Senator Ferretti Barth's question is that a sum of $59 627 000 has been paid between 1998 and 2002. The Supplementary Estimates (A) indicate an additional sum of $2 000 943 which would give a grand total of $62 570 000.

Senator Ferretti Barth: An inquiry into the crash of a plane has cost Canada close to $63 million. It is a significant amount and I had suggested splitting the cost with the United States who are members of the Chicago Convention. Crashes are not predictable but if you compare today's air traffic with the traffic fifty years ago, it is obvious that more crashes will happen and that $62 million will need to be paid for inquiries.

I think it is time to review the terms of the Chicago Convention as well as other older conventions. We cannot continue to spend the taxpayer's money to honor conventions that force us to pay very large inquiry fees. By the way, how much is Switzerland contributing compared to Canada?

Mr. Neville: The convention states that airline companies are not required to contribute to such inquiries. According to the convention, the country in which the crash takes place is responsible for paying for the inquiry. Crashes are not predictable but the terms of the agreed upon conventions have to be respected in such an event.

Senator Ferretti Barth: Something has to be done and the civil servants from Treasury Board need to review the terms of this convention. Furthermore, the Bureau of Transports needs additional funding. I wonder what this money will be used for. What are the additional costs to close the inquiry?

Mr. Neville: From what I can see in my notes, the additional costs are operational. They entail finalizing the review of the documents and of the process. They concern in particular IT services and expert services that will give their expertise on very specific issues.

Senator Ferretti Barth: If the Chair permits it, I will ask another question. How many people are taking part in the inquiry?

Mr. Neville: I do not have the exact number of people working on the inquiry.

Senator Ferretti Barth: Could we find out? Given the size of the inquiry, there must be expert witnesses?

Mr. Neville: The information is difficult to get since many individuals work on each very specific file. Two month later or prior that number changes. It changes daily depending on what they find out.

Senator Ferretti Barth: It should not be difficult to establish that since the inception of the inquiry, X number of people have worked part time, full time, on contract, etc. In certain government operations a project, a service or a report can change hands. This contributes to making the inquiry process longer. How many people have worked on this inquiry that is costing us $62 million?

Mr. Neville: The bulk of the cost is not related to personnel in the way of salaries but rather to professional and technical services. We will do our best to find out the total amount of people involved in this inquiry.

Senator Ferretti Barth: With respect to Human Resources Development Canada, $91.9 million is provided for addressing the issue of the homeless. Can you tell me if this amount of $91.9 million is in addition to the initial $753 million, provided for through the National Initiative on Homelessness? That is almost $900 million dollars.

Mr. Neville: The $91 million are part of the $753 million.

Senator Ferretti Barth: OK. In your presentation, you talk about the various amounts distributed to departments and agencies. How many departments and agencies are there?

Mr. Neville: It is a question I get asked by many people. My answer depends on the definition of departments and agencies that we take. According to public accounts, there are 93 departments and agencies. If we look at departments that have a minister, there are 23 departments. It depends on the definition. However, many agencies report to a minister. In this context, the number is much larger. There are always small entities created as we go along, for one reason or another. For now, we use 23 department headed by a minister and 93 departments and agencies.

[English]

Senator Lynch-Staunton: There is nothing here regarding costs associated with the royal visit. Perhaps they were all covered in the Main Estimates, or can we expect that those bills will be coming in over the next little while, or long while?

Mr. Neville: Again, Mr. Chairman, if there were any costs incurred, departments would be asked to try to fund them within their own appropriations. If they were not able to do so and a valid case were presented to Treasury Board and approved, then we would find them in the next Supplementary Estimates.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Are you aware that we will receive those?

Mr. Bickerton: Mr. Chairman, one of the items included in the Supplementary Estimates for the Department of Canadian Heritage is an additional item for $34.5 million, which deals with additional funding for identity and multicultural programming. Part of that was monies set aside for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, an amount of about $8.7 million.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Under which subheading is that?

Mr. Bickerton: It is under, ``Additional funding for identity and multicultural programming.''

Senator Lynch-Staunton: In that amount, are there direct costs associated with the royal visit?

Mr. Bickerton: Yes, the sum of $8.7 million.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Why is it not identified as such?

Mr. Neville: It is.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Where?

Mr. Bickerton: We have grouped a number of things together. Under that particular line item there is information in there for Exchange Canada, Katimavik, Celebrate Canada, and the Queen's Golden Jubilee is included in that.

The Chairman: There would have been other departments that incurred expenses for that visit, would there not?

Mr. Neville: Yes. Again, if they can absorb them and it is within their program authority, i.e. within the statute, then there would be no requirement for them to come to Parliament for additional funding.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: Parliament is just as guilty, and I use the term advisedly, as departments in stretching out their requirements over Main Estimates and Supplementary Estimates. There are known figures of expenditures at the time the Main Estimates are prepared which are not included at the time, but it is known that the word is out, and that we will put them in the supplementaries, over two or three Supplementary Estimates. The Senate and the House of Commons both do it. I know exactly how the system works, and I think it is wrong. It should all go into the Main Estimates in order to give a fairer picture at the one time when the Main Estimates are being assessed.

What can you do to avoid that? If there is no discipline in the use of Supplementary Estimates, it makes a mockery of the Main Estimates.

Mr. Neville: Before we accept that comment, I would like to remind all the members of this committee that the Minister of Finance does come out with a budget at the beginning of the fiscal year. If there is no budget per se, there is some document that refers to the planned expenditures. The key words there are ``planned expenditures.'' There is a specific amount. In the October update, the specific amount for 2002-03 is $169.9 billion. Our comment is that the Main Estimates for 2002-03, plus the Supplementary Estimates (A) for 2002-03, still remain, at the end of the year, total planned expenditures, within the Minister of Finance's forecast. There is a control that takes place to ensure that the total expenditures do not exceed the planned expenditures as announced by the Minister of Finance.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: My quarrel is how you get to those totals. I would much rather have everything in front of me at once in order to appreciate the impact of those expenditures, rather than have them spread out over three or four time periods.

Mr. Neville: Each item in the Supplementary Estimates is approved by Treasury Board before it is included there.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: I am not arguing with that. Of course it is approved. I bet we will see more World Youth Day expenditures in the next supplementaries, which must be known about now. I cannot believe that after six months, eight months or a year, we are still paying bills that cannot be included in these Estimates. I will leave it at that, but I will ask the same question: Why were those World Youth Day expenditures not put in these Supplementary Estimates?

Mr. Neville: As an ex-senior financial officer of a department, I try to manage my appropriations such that I can cover all the costs. I do not want to go to Parliament for additional funds as a premise. When I am managing the resources of a department, I am trying to manage them with the appropriations within the Main Estimates. If something comes up where I must seek additional resources, or I have been asked to do additional work, then I must find relief in order not to overspend my appropriation. Hence, I will go through the Supplementary Estimates process.

These departments are doing that as well. They are trying to manage their appropriations as best they see fit within the appropriations already voted. If they think they can absorb it, they will, and will not come forward. If, on the other hand, it is a significant amount and they cannot live within the appropriation as already voted by Parliament for their normal business, and this is extraordinary, then they will come forward.

A lot of departments are still, today, looking at trying to manage their appropriation to year end. If they can, you will not see it, and we will not see it. It is within their program authority. If they cannot manage their appropriation without having a situation where it could exceed the appropriation, then they will come for final supplementaries.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: We are running out of time. I will try to be more exact the next time we meet because I am troubled by the way in which some of these open-ended activities go on endlessly. The one on Swissair I understand because it is an ongoing activity. However, some of these activities are for one day or one month, such as the G8, yet the bills keep on going with no cap. Sure, they come within the total expenditures, but the activity itself is unlimited in expenditures, or so it appears.

Mr. Neville: I am back to my initial comment. The Minister of Finance has stated what the forecast planned expenditures are for this fiscal year. The Main Estimates for 2002-03 and Supplementary Estimates (A) for 2002-03 are within planned forecast spending.

Senator Lynch-Staunton: That does not answer my question but I appreciate the answer, anyway.

Senator Bolduc: I have a supplementary question to that.

Senator Cools: In our nineteenth report, which was dated June 13, this committee made four recommendations. I am waiting for you to find that. Are you with me? In our nineteenth report of June 13, this Senate committee made four recommendations. Of those four recommendations, two were directed towards the Treasury Board. They were, in particular, Recommendation No. 2 and No. 3.

Recommendation No. 2 states:

We recommend that the Treasury Board rescind its 1991 Real Estate Asset Management Funding Strategy as it relates to the National Capital Commission and that monies received by the Commission for the sale of surplus assets be directed to the Consolidated Revenue Fund as these were assets held for all Canadians.

Recommendation No. 3 stated:

We recommend that the National Capital Commission approach Parliament through the Treasury Board for the necessary resources should the Commission require such monies to effectively operate and manage its real estate assets.

My question generally is this: What is Treasury Board doing in response to these two recommendations, in particular, and the other two recommendations in general? These two are direct. Do you want a copy of them? I can lend you my copy.

Mr. Neville: I am neither familiar with the report nor with the specific recommendations. Therefore, I am not in a position to respond directly to your question.

The Chairman: I think we would like to be assured that the board is seized of our recommendations on this important matter. You will be aware that, under a Treasury Board policy, the National Capital Commission has the right to dispose of property and to keep the proceeds for its own capital purposes. The view of this committee was that that policy ought to be rescinded, and that the NCC should be like any other department or agency of government. When it needs money, it should come to the government and seek the money and justify it.

The concern of the committee — and I think I can speak on behalf of those who lead the charge here — is that the policy as it now stands is a kind of perverse incentive that encourages the board, when it needs the money, to dispose of properties that it should be holding in trust for the people of Canada. That was our reasoning. Judging by the perplexed air that you both have, I have the impression that our recommendations fell into a black hole over there. Tell me that is not so.

Mr. Neville: My scope of authority is quite broad, and it does include real property in that sense. However, I am not comfortable answering this question, and giving you perhaps the wrong answer. I will defer on that question and get back to you.

Senator Cools: That is fair and reasonable.

While you are at it, then, perhaps you could respond to those two recommendations which are specifically named Treasury Board, and also to the other two recommendations. We appreciate the fact that you prefer to wait to respond because a better response is preferable.

Mr. Neville: I would be much more at ease in giving you a fulsome and accurate response rather than something that I have in my notes, which is superficial.

Senator Cools: Of course. There has been a lot of discussion and debate here in this committee on firearms. We currently have a bill before us in the Senate called An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, Bill C-10. That bill proposes to create a new firearms commissioner.

Am I correct in assuming that this would be, yet again, a new expense, and that what you were describing to us today in this new appropriation does not include what is before us in this new bill?

Mr. Neville: I would not expect the new bill to have been covered in the estimates, no.

Senator Cools: Very well, that is yet another increase in expenditures, as they will be creating this new position and this new office and what it entails.

I wish to make the point, again, and to put it on the record, that the expense on this item seems to be never-ending and perpetual. It is it very important that we speak to the minister.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Neville and Mr. Bickerton, for a good meeting.

One week from today, at 9:30 a.m., we will meet in camera to consider a draft report on these Supplementary Estimates.

The committee adjourned.