Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 2 - Evidence, February 24, 2004
OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 24, 2004
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 9:30 a.m. to examine the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004; and to consider Bill C-212, respecting user fees.
Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, we have before us Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year that ends on March 31. My suggestion is that we might take no longer than an hour for our discussion with the officials of Treasury Board on this matter, after which I will propose that the committee meet in camera for a discussion of Bill C-212. I will ask Mr. Cullen, who sponsored the bill in the House of Commons, to remain with us, and the Treasury Board officials, if they are here, who are concerned with this bill to stay with us so that we can have a discussion of some of the issues that have arisen.
It would then be my intention, if all goes well, to convene the committee tomorrow night at 6:15 p.m. to proceed to clause-by-clause examination of Bill C-212.
I believe we can deal with Supplementary Estimates (B) in about an hour, although, as always, we are in the hands of the committee. However, bear in mind that these same officials will be back here on March 2 to discuss the Main Estimates for 2004-05 and that their minister, Mr. Alcock, will be here on March 10, not only under the rubric of Main Estimates but also to discuss some of the changes that have been made in financial management responsibilities both within the government and the Public Service of Canada.
Without further ado, let me introduce Mr. Joyce, Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management and Strategies Sector, and Ms. Laura Danagher, Executive Director, Expenditure Operations and Estimates Directorate, who are here to help us with Supplementary Estimates (B).
Mr. Mike Joyce, Assistant Secretary, Expenditure Management and Strategies Sector, Treasury Board of Canada: Honourable senators, I will read a short opening statement.
I am appearing before you today to discuss Supplementary Estimates (B) for fiscal year 2003-04 that were introduced in Parliament on February 19, 2004. I am pleased that my colleague, Ms. Danagher, is here to help me answer your questions.
From a fiscal planning perspective, these Supplementary Estimates seek Parliament's approval to spend $1.98 billion on expenditures, voted appropriations, for fiscal year 2003-04 that were not sufficiently developed or known when the Main Estimates were prepared at the beginning of this fiscal year.
These expenditures for the fiscal year 2003-04 were included within the $178.3 billion in overall planned spending set out in the Minister of Finance's November 2003 economic and fiscal update.
The Supplementary Estimates also provide information to Parliament on the net increase of $6.16 billion in legislative expenditure adjustments as compared to the amounts set out in the Main Estimates.
Among the most important clauses for which we are requesting authorization, I would mention the $375.4 billion to mitigate the impact of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome crisis; the $288.6 million for operational budget carryovers; the $145 million for temporary resources to provide legal services to government clients subject to the cost recovery system; the $107.3 million to offset the constant increases at the end of collective agreements; a grant of $100 million to the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship to pay for measures designed to correct information and knowledge gaps and to provide information on the spinoffs of the educational system.
The above items represent approximately $1 billion of the $1.98 billion for which parliamentary approval is sought.
The remaining increase of $980 million is spread among a number of departments and agencies. The specific details are included in the Supplementary Estimates document.
With respect to changes in projected statutory spending, there is a net $6.16-billion increase to spending previously authorized by Parliament. The updates shown in these Supplementary Estimates are provided for information purposes only. The major statutory items to which there are changes in the projected spending amounts are as follows: $4,719 million for transfer payments to provincial governments; $1,174.2 million for funding to implement the new business risk management component of the agricultural policy framework; $598.9 million for funding to assist producers in the transition to a new business risk management component of the agricultural policy framework; $375.2 million for activities to mitigate the impact of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis; $250-million grant in support of the development and demonstration of climate change and clean air technologies; $223.6 million for Newfoundland fiscal equalization offset payments; $215 million for income security payments; $100.5 million for Canada student loans; $1,400-million reduction of public debt charges due to lower interest rates and interest savings on currency transactions; and $165.3-million reduction in direct loans to students under the new financing arrangement.
I would like to draw your attention to some of the modest improvements we have made this year to the Supplementary Estimates (B) document for 2003-2004. We have added an introduction to set out the objective and structure of the estimates. In addition, we have included some summary tables to provide more details about the proposed changes, in particular an overview of the items in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for 2003-2004. The changes result from the concerns raised by members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
Concrete steps taken by the Treasury Board Secretariat to improve the estimates process are outlined in the government's response to the sixth report of the Government Operations and Estimates Committee tabled in Parliament on February 20, 2004.
I would be pleased to answer any questions the committee might have on the Supplementary Estimates.
Senator Comeau: In regard to Vote 1, the Department of Industry is asking for $2.69 million to implement market access for the least developed countries initiative — this is under the horizontal initiative — Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is seeking $2.68 million and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is seeking $386 million. This is on page 48.
Is this funding earmarked strictly for Quebec or is it for other regions as well that are involved in this?
Mr. Joyce: To answer your question, the information I have on this program states that Industry Canada will deliver the program in Ontario and Western Canada, while Canada Economic Development Quebec and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will deliver the program in Quebec and in Atlantic Canada, respectively. The program has three components: a marketing and branding component to enhance the image of the apparel and textile industries, a financing component to assist companies in accessing capital, and an innovation component to enhance their competitiveness.
I shall have to get back to you on whether this represents the current distribution of activity. However, for the apparel and textile firms in Canada, Quebec accounts for 55 per cent; Ontario accounts for approximately 26 per cent; Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, together, account for 9 per cent; British Columbia accounts for 7 per cent; and the Atlantic Region accounts for 3 per cent.
I would assume that the distribution would be somewhat reflective of that activity. If you want more specific details, I would have to go back to the department.
Senator Comeau: It makes sense, the fact that 50 per cent of the industry is in Quebec. It makes sense that $386 million would go to help out the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
Do you have any information on these least developed countries to which we wish to develop market access?
Mr. Joyce: Not specifically, but there are 48 least developed countries that are expected to benefit from the market access. I could provide them separately.
Senator Comeau: That would be fine.
My last question on this subject is, based on our trade agreements with other countries, will this cause any kind of a problem or will it contravene any of our trade liberalization agreements?
Mr. Joyce: No. Domestic subsidies are not prohibited under the World Trade Organization rules, unless the subsidies are clearly linked to exports. In this case, they are not, because it is used to enhance competitiveness domestically.
Senator Comeau: The Department of Justice is seeking, as you mentioned in your notes, a new appropriation of $145 million as interim resources to provide legal services to government clients currently subject to a cost recovery regime. Specifically, what is this activity?
Mr. Joyce: This explanation is somewhat technical, so I will keep it brief. One of the activities that the secretariat engaged in following the 2003 budget was to launch a number of what we called expenditure and management reviews. Justice was one of the departments that were reviewed. As one part of that review — and it was a result of engaging the departments in discussions about current practices of charging departments for legal services. This is a long-standing practice, where departments actually pay for some of the legal services that they consume. Clearly, the idea here is to introduce some internal market and to have departments think about the amount of legal services they want to charge.
This was put in place by a process known as ``journal vouchering'' in the government, where there is actually an internal transaction.
As part of the discussions with the Department of Justice and as part of that review, it became apparent that there was actually a question of the technical legality of the way the department was actually doing that internal voucher system, specifically because the lawyers were employees of the department. Thus, the Department of Justice was specifically paying their salaries. After some discussion, because it was not absolutely crystal clear, the balance of the legal advice indicated that this was not properly authorized by Parliament because the money was appropriated to other departments. It was journal ``vouchered'' across; however, it was the Department of Justice that was actually paying the salaries of the lawyers.
In order to provide an interim solution, we are seeking Parliament's authority for $145 million supplementary spending authority, which will legalize the current activity. Nothing will change as a result of this, in terms of the current practices, except that it resolves the legal uncertainty that perhaps the department was not properly authorized to do what was a practice that has been working well for them.
It is an interim measure, because as a result of that expenditure and management review we are working with the Department of Justice to look at their cost-recovery regime, to make sure it is the best regime for the current circumstances in the way it is working. So, it is an interim solution, in the sense that, as a result of that review, there may be possible changes.
One final point, this increase in parliamentary spending authority will not increase spending at all. It is a technical provision. In fact, we will put frozen allotments against it. In other words, it does not actually represent a spending increase; it simply ensures that the activities of the department are properly authorized by Parliament.
Senator Comeau: That was to be my next question. If the voucher system was such that it would no longer work, would the departments that had budgeted for the legal work continue to keep the funding? You just answered the question. So, there will be no extra windfall.
Mr. Joyce: There will be no windfall. We will make sure. We have a system in place to ensure that that does not happen.
Senator Finnerty: Under its Vote 10b, the Department of the Environment is seeking $30.7 million, which represents an increase of 44.4 per cent over the previous estimate of $69.1 million for this vote. According to the department's explanation of the requirement for $28 million, which would be contributed to the acquisition of the Burns Bog to protect ecologically sensitive lands, is the planned contribution to be used for more than the acquisition of the land, or does the property have any economic use or attributes that might explain the relatively high price for this land?
Mr. Joyce: The money is going to be used for the acquisition of the land. The appraised value of Burns Bog itself is $70 million. It is an extremely high profile area in British Columbia's lower mainland. One of the reasons the government believes it is important to acquire this land is that it otherwise would be used for development purposes and, as a result, the ecological sanctity of this area would be lost. In addition to Burns Bog itself, which is 5,000 acres of land, an additional 422 acres have been added, to ensure that the area is well protected.
The total cost of the purchase is $80 million. The federal government is contributing $28 million; the Province of British Columbia, $28.6 million. An arrangement is in place to ensure that the federal government will be paying no more than the Government of British Columbia. As well, $15 million will be contributed from the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and the Municipality of Delta will contribute $8.4 million. My understanding is that the funds will only be applied to the cost of the land acquisition and that arrangements have been put in place to ensure that that is so. If the purchase price is less than $80 million, the federal and provincial governments' contribution will remain at their respective $28 and $28.6 million.
Senator Doody: Under the Department of Finance, for the Fiscal Equalization Program, there was a previous estimate of $10.5 billion. That was reduced to $9.8, which I think is something like $2.4 billion less. There is a reduction of $694 million under that heading. Can you reconcile these numbers for me? It seems that the economic update of this fiscal year reduced the estimated transfer payments by $2.4 billion. Is that the actual amount, or is there another number?
Under the Department of Natural Resources, there is the Fiscal Equalization Offsets Payments as well, which seems to further confuse me. Would you explain these numbers for me?
Mr. Joyce: I can try, senator. I had some of the same questions myself, because there are those two other quite separate arrangements with the eastern provinces.
The fiscal equalization, if I understood, is the specific part of all the changes that you are interested in.
Senator Doody: I am actually interested in the total transfer payments arrangement and how it has been affected. It seems to me, looking at this at first glance, that the much ballyhooed $2.5 billion increase in health care transfers to the provinces will be more than offset by the reduction in equalization payments; is that correct?
Mr. Joyce: The decrease in fiscal equalization since the 2003-04 Main Estimates is $694 million. It is a combination of population changes, provincial revenues subject to equalization and tax bases, and other floor and ceiling provisions. The net effect of those four factors is that it goes down by $694 million. That is the fiscal equalization component of the changes.
Senator Doody: Where does the $2.4 billion economic update reconcile with the $694 million?
Mr. Joyce: I may have to get back to you on that. In terms of the total change, which is $4.7 billion, the components are there. I would just be reading out information that you already have.
The components are a decrease in fiscal equalization, which I have just run through; an increase to the Canada Health and Social Transfer of $25 million; an increase to the Youth Allowances Recovery program of $73 million; $257 million to Alternative Payments for Standing Programs — which is a confusing title — where the Province of Quebec has elected to take tax points instead of cash; a $2.5-million increase to the Canada Health and Social Transfer Supplement Trust; a $1.5-billion increase in the Diagnostic/Medical Equipment Trust; a $1-billion increase to Health Reform Transfer; and a $58-million increase to the Provincial Personal Income Tax Revenue Guarantee Program.
If that is too much to digest, I can provide it separately.
Senator Doody: That is before me, but it still does not explain the difference between the $694 million amount that you show here and the $2.4 billion reduction in the economic update.
Is this in addition to the economic update?
Mr. Joyce: These have been revised; they are the most recent numbers we have from the Department of Finance.
Senator Doody: Hence, it is a reduction of $2.4 billion plus $694 million; is that right? Is there a connection between these two numbers?
Ms. Laura Danagher, Executive Director, Expenditure Operations and Estimates Directorate, Treasury Board of Canada: When they did the economic update, they were forecasting a decrease of $2.4 billion. They are now forecasting a decrease of $694 million. That is what we are publishing in the Supplementary Estimates. The economic statement figure has been modified. We are still starting with the forecast in the Main Estimates, and we are adjusting it.
Senator Doody: Instead of $2.4 billion less, it is now only $694 million.
Ms. Danagher: That is what we are being told by the Department of Finance.
The Chairman: On the equalization.
Ms. Danagher: That is correct, on the equalization component.
Senator Doody: On the Department of Natural Resources vote, on page 144, there is a Newfoundland Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments. Is that part of the number that you just gave me?
Mr. Joyce: These are separate programs, so they are separate from the list of numbers that we have just run through. The Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Resource Revenue Fund is a payment pursuant to an act to pay the province an amount equal to —
Senator Doody: I see that. I am talking about the first item. The line reads: Statutory — Newfoundland Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments.
Mr. Joyce: My material is in a different book, so it will take me just a moment to locate it. This is a statutory authority under the Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments provision of the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act. It provides Newfoundland with transitional protection from large reductions in equalization that would otherwise result with the growth of the province's revenues as a result of offshore economic development.
Senator Doody: So the 80 cents or 75 cents in equalization that would be deducted for every dollar in offshore oil revenue is offset to some degree by this amount.
Mr. Joyce: That is my understanding, senator, yes.
Senator Doody: Could you give me something on paper to explain that? If that is so, it puts a different light on the understanding we had of the effect of equalization on the offshore oil revenue picture. If there is an offset program, it was not mentioned when we were doing the examination of that. However, that will come to light in good time. There are payments to the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Resource Revenue Fund under a different heading there.
Mr. Joyce: That is correct, senator, yes.
Senator Doody: I will leave it at that.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Mr. Joyce, I have a few questions for you. Every year during our study of the Supplementary Estimates, I ask the same question about CIDA.
This year, an appropriation of $375 million has been earmarked for SARS. This includes the $4 million for the Canadian Tourism Commission and the $371.4 million for the Department of Health. These figures appear on page 94 of the English version of the estimates. Is that correct?
Mr. Joyce: You are right. I apologize, but my notes are in English only.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Have you found the page to which I am referring?
Mr. Joyce: Yes, and I would like to reply in English.
Senator Ferretti Barth: I come now to my questions. What specific expenditures are covered by this grant? Does the federal government have the right to look at the expenditures of the Ontario government? How will these two amounts be managed? Where will the grants come from when the request is presented?
Mr. Joyce: The amount was based on a review of Ontario's finances, which were prepared for the premier of Ontario by Eric Peters, an independent examiner. It quantified the direct expenditures related to SARS at $720 million. The federal commitment is to provide $330 million, which represents 50 per cent of the health care costs of SARS that were incurred by the Ontario government. This is a retroactive payment to compensate Ontario for 50 per cent of the assessed amount that was verified by Mr. Eric Peters.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Is this amount included in the $4 million for the Canadian Tourism Commission?
Mr. Joyce: This amount simply refers to the additional funds for existing programs.
Senator Ferretti Barth: But is the purpose of this initiative to promote tourism in Ontario?
Mr. Joyce: Yes.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Was this amount provided to establish programs to attract tourists to Ontario?
Mr. Joyce: The funds were used to pay for an international marketing campaign designed to promote travel to Canada. The messages were presented on television in Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Does the government have any oversight regarding the way in which the money is spent? Will there be any reports?
Mr. Joyce: I could ask the Tourism Commission that question. I assume there will be some reports, but I do not have that document with me this morning.
Senator Ferretti Barth: I have always been concerned about the Canadian International Development Agency. For several years now, I have asked other witnesses who appeared before this committee to send me a list of the countries that receive aid from CIDA. However, I have never received such a list.
On page 94 of the English version of the Supplementary Estimates (B) for 2003-2004, we see that CIDA will get an additional $35 million dollars. Could you tell us how this additional amount will be used? Which countries will receive these additional amounts that are now being requested?
Another very important question has to do with the funding we provide underdeveloped countries for major projects. Were these projects in fact carried out? There are more and more requests for funding, and Canada provides it. However, is there a process for overseeing the way in which the millions of dollars we pay to these countries are used, so that we can ensure that the funds are used for the proper purposes?
Mr. Joyce: I am not sure I have that information. However, I intend to ask the question of the Canadian International Development Agency to ensure that you get this information.
All departments providing grants follow certain Treasury Board-approved terms and conditions. I hope I can get the exact conditions for the grants. This will give you the accountability framework.
Senator Ferretti Barth: Could you send me the answer to this question?
Mr. Joyce: Certainly.
Senator Oliver: I have two questions. The first relates to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg; the second relates to loan guarantees in Industry Canada, on page 116.
On page 116, statutory loan guarantees pursuant to paragraph 14.1(b) of the Department of Industry Act. The amount there is $42.7 million, for claims of loan guarantees under the Department of Industry. Can we have a list of companies whose loan guarantees are now subject to a claim? If you do not have it here, perhaps you could send it.
My second question relates to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and the purview of the Western Economic Diversification — where $27 million is required for a grant for the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. That is on page 131. Why does the museum not fall under the purview of the Department of Canadian Heritage?
I have two other questions on that. First, why is this request for funds related to these construction costs appearing in the Supplementary Estimates 2003-04? Second, were there any requests for funds related to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the Main Estimates for 2003-04 — not the sups but the Main Estimates?
Mr. Joyce: In terms of your first question, we do not have the list. I can give you the information that I have here, but that will be something for which we will receive a list and we will get back to you. It is a payment related to loan guarantees offered by the government as part of the financing arrangements in support of the Air Canada purchase of five Air Canada regional jets from Bombardier.
Senator Oliver: Is it just one company, namely, Bombardier?
Mr. Joyce: I should like to verify that for you, senator. That is the information I have. So subject to confirmation, yes, it is for that. This happened after Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection and a claim was made by the lender against Industry Canada's loan guarantee. It was specifically for the purchase of these five Air Canada regional jets.
Senator Oliver: The amount of that guarantee is $42.7; we are on the hook for that. Is that correct?
Mr. Joyce: Yes, that is the information that I have. The amount is $42.7 million, and I do not think there will be any other funding. My only doubt is whether there is a top-up to any other existing loan guarantee. However, my understanding is that the $42.7 million is specifically for the loan guarantee that is being called.
Senator Oliver: Could you send a note to the clerk about that?
Mr. Joyce: Yes. I will verify that that is actually correct.
I wish to turn to your questions on the museum, senator.
Senator Oliver: You would think it would be under Canadian Heritage.
Mr. Joyce: I can understand that. I had the same reaction when I first read it, until I understood the details. This is not a museum that will be owned by the federal government. On the other hand, Canadian Heritage has a program of museums that are Crown corporations that are wholly owned by the federal government. I do not have details on the entity that will own the Winnipeg museum, but there appears to be a group that has come together to establish this museum.
Senator Oliver: Issy Asper, I think, started it. Is this not the one?
Mr. Joyce: Yes. I thought I had information on the makeup of the board, but I do not.
That is one reason why this item is not under Department of Canadian Heritage. Canadian Heritage is in the business of running programs; and the ministry, under the minister, is responsible for the oversight of the Crown corporations that are museums. The case you refer to is, in effect, an economic development project, because it is funds that are being given by the federal government as part of the funding to establish this museum. However, when it is operating, it will not be the responsibility of the federal government.
Senator Oliver: Was there a provision in the Main Estimates?
Mr. Joyce: There was not an explicit provision, but I believe some of the money, in addition to the Supplementary Estimates, is being found from within the department's existing funding. There was no explicit provision in the Main Estimates. This is something that came along afterwards.
One of the reasons it did not happen is that all of the arrangements that were necessary for the Treasury Board Secretariat to do the analysis, to make sure they understood, were not available at the time of Supplementary Estimates (A), and they certainly were not available at the time of the Main Estimates. This has been left until the final Supplementary Estimates. We have been able to advise the Treasury Board that the arrangements for this are satisfactory, and that the conditions necessary — should, for instance, this not go ahead — protect the government's funding.
Senator Ringuette: The last time you were before this committee, I talked about the funding required to put into place Bill C-25 — the Public Service Labour Relations Act. On page 173, Vote 10b — which reads, ``Government-Wide Initiatives — Subject to the approval of the Treasury Board, to supplement other appropriations in support of the implementation of strategic management initiatives in the public service of Canada'' — it shows an additional $417,550 million.
Can you tell whether that is in support of the implementation of Bill C-25?
Mr. Joyce: There are a number of initiatives that make this up. I am just trying to make sure that I give you the correct information on this.
The short answer to your question is that it is not specifically related to what was formerly Bill C-25, as you said. Halt me if this is not the information you are looking for, senator. One element of this is operational funding for the joint career transition committee. It was set in place as a collaborative model in partnership with regional federal councils and the national joint council to support implementation of human resource modernization initiatives in the regions. This is related to human resource modernization, in that respect, but it is basically a joint process with those two committees, the regional federal councils, which are where federal departments in the regions get together — this is sort of a group of departments that get together — to discuss issues of common interest, and the national joint council, which is a joint union-Treasury Board body.
The origin of this is a 1998 workforce adjustment agreement, to address the need for continuous learning. It relates to things like career planning sessions, employee skills analysis and training for new skill sets.
I do not have any other information on that. It is possible that some of this funding is linked, but I do not know and I would have to find out.
Senator Ringuette: Is there any money here for HR planning to broaden external competition to be national in scope? Also, this Vote 1b — operating expenditure for the Treasury Board Secretariat, an additional $10 million — can you give me some details on that?
Mr. Joyce: My recollection is that there was money provided in the previous Supplementary Estimates to address the issue of competitions and equalizing the playing field from across Canada.
The funding that relates to Vote 1b consists of three items. One is an operating budget carry forward. There is funding for the feasibility and planning activities related to government-wide systems infrastructure. This is an initiative where what we are trying to do in the secretariat is to provide some leadership in terms of government-wide IT infrastructure in financial and human resource management.
This, again, follows part of the initiatives I mentioned previously as an expenditure and management review of the common IT infrastructure. This is an area where, quite frankly, the government does not really exploit its size in terms of looking for more common IT systems. This would actually increase efficiency across government in terms of employees transferring from departments and agencies, where they would be able to have a familiar system. There is also a potential for expenditure savings if we move to more common IT systems, rather than having diversity. It would reduce duplication and fragmentation.
We are hopeful that there is a considerable scope for savings here. This is simply a start at looking at how we can develop common standards and approaches. Hence, this relates to the IT infrastructure that supports all governments.
Senator Ringuette: Is there not, and has there not been constituted quite a few years ago, a government-wide committee to supervise government-wide IT and on-line service, so that the streamlining, the standardization and the economies of scale could have been achieved?
Mr. Joyce: This is actually a result of those discussions. There are a number of committees looking at this.
Senator Ringuette: We are going to be spending additional money for that committee, are we?
Mr. Joyce: One of the committees — and I do not know if this is the one you are referring to — is the service and information management board, and we also have a specific Treasury Board senior advisory committee on information management, which is a subcommittee of yet another committee. We have a number of committees looking at this, and what the Treasury Board is doing is providing the leadership to try to coordinate this.
Senator Ringuette: Coming from Atlantic Canada, we have heard a lot about the words ``make-work project.'' I think that definition can be extended quite a lot from what I am hearing now — committees and subcommittees and subcommittees. Everyone should be looking at the same thing, but no one is really focusing on that thing. I think I have made my point.
Senator Downe: I have a question regarding an item on page 175 — the contribution to support the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy. Do you know the total cost of that project, and how much the federal government contributed toward it?
Mr. Joyce: The total planned expenditure for this is $3.4 million.
Senator Downe: The $3.4 million is from the Government of Canada, correct?
Mr. Joyce: Yes.
Senator Downe: Do you know the total cost of the project?
Mr. Joyce: I do not have that information here.
There are donations of $3.5 million from over 11,000 Canadian individuals and other organizations. There were other donations from provincial governments and the French governments, but I do not have the amounts for that. I can find them for you.
Senator Downe: I would be interested in knowing the total contributions and the total cost of the project.
What I am interested in is the percentage contribution by the Government of the Canada towards this.
I am surprised the government did not pay the total cost, for a national memorial. We had to depend on Wal-Mart and others to contribute. However, I will wait for your information.
On page 105, the Guaranteed Income Supplement payments, could you explain those figures to me? It is at the top of page 105.
Mr. Joyce: Your question relates to the $21 million reduction in statutory, but I do not have any specific information.
Senator Downe: I would appreciate receiving that information, when you get it. My concern is that the title of this program is misleading, that the program is not guaranteed. Seniors who are on a fixed income must apply. If they do not apply, they do not receive it. Thousands of Canadian seniors who are in a very low-income bracket are not receiving the supplement, because they are not filling out the forms — either because they are not capable of filling them out or because the government has not made them aware of the program. If we owe Revenue Canada money, great resources are spent to collect it from us. The reverse should be true as well, but under this program this is not happening. If you could send any information that you have.
The Chairman: Information is sent through the clerk and it will come to all of us.
Mr. Joyce: We do not have any specific information, so we will have to get back to you.
The Chairman: These two witnesses will be back here on March 2, with regard to the Main Estimates for 2004-05, and again on March 10 with their minister.
The committee continued in camera.