STANDING COMMITTEE ON HUMAN
RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AND THE STATUS OF PERSONS
COMITÉ PERMANENT DU
DÉVELOPPEMENT DES RESSOURCES
HUMAINES ET DE LA CONDITION DES PERSONNES HANDICAPÉES
[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Tuesday, February 22, 2000
The Chair (Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)): Perhaps
we could begin. I understand that's a 30-minute
bell, so let's say we have 20 minutes.
As you know, the order of the day is future business.
This is a planning meeting. It's the sort of meeting
that we could have of course handled with the steering
committee, but I think we all agreed it was much more
appropriate to deal with it in an open meeting.
There are two or three things I would like to say
First, as you know, the large
sets of lists of grants and contributions were
deposited with the committee yesterday. I'd like to
explain to you what happened.
You saw the truckload of documentation, the thousands of
pages. Six sets were deposited with the committee.
I sent one set to each party through their whips, so
every party now has one.
That disposes of five; the sixth set the committee has.
I'll give it to the committee for documentation
purposes. There is in fact a seventh set, which I
understand is in the Library of Parliament. I didn't know
about that; it wasn't deposited with us. In
addition, those lists are on the HRDC website and they are
available to all members—and, by the way, I assume all
members of the public—through the website.
There are 18 members of this committee. We could have
had 18 sets, but it seemed to me that it would have been
an absolute mountain of documentation. So that's where
the documents are. If any of you have any problems, you can
obviously consult the committee copy, which the clerk
has, or your whip's copy. I don't know what each whip
is doing with his or her documentation.
Is that okay?
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, Ref.): They're
sitting up nights looking at it.
Mr. John Godfrey (Don Valley West, Lib.): You can just
go on the Internet.
The Chair: Absolutely. That is the most obvious
thing to do. But I wanted to explain, John, where the
hard copies had gone.
Just for your information, and I
know you will have noticed it, Bill C-12, the labour
bill, has now been referred to the natural resources and
government operations committee, so it
was previously something we were contemplating
addressing sometime later on.
Judy, I know this is of particular significance
Just so you know, colleagues, it's no longer
our business in the sense of its passage through the
House of Commons. Obviously it's an area we
should interest ourselves in, but it's not coming to us
at the present time.
I would like to suggest that we have a look at
the notes that our staff, Kevin Kerr and Bill
Young, have prepared for us.
I'm in your hands, as usual, as to how the committee
proceeds, but perhaps I could explain these notes very
briefly to you.
You already have them; they were in your office.
I have a copy in English and we have some in French.
Did members bring them with them?
I have a spare one and there are copies coming around
First of all, it indicates how many meetings we have
until the end of the year, and I actually have a chart
here with those days on them through to the end.
It says 14 sitting weeks, 28 meetings,
and so on... some discussion of that. We should
think in terms of a maximum of between 20 and 28 meetings
left, unless of course we care to have
extraordinary extra meetings.
Section (a) gives an indication of what we would
be doing were we not considering this matter of grants
and contributions, which we have to consider.
We have to consider the estimates, the social insurance number
matter, which we've already followed up on a little but we
need to follow up on again.
On our subcommittees on
children and youth at risk and on persons with
disabilities, we have
to occupy ourselves with their agendas. They will be
doing the work, but we need to know what's going on.
We have the one meeting with the delegation from
Sweden. It's a fixed day, it's on a
Wednesday, so we have plans for that.
In section (b) it's the same thing, what we would have been
doing. First of all, we had this study, which
we'll be considering in a moment, and then the study of
lifelong learning and skill development.
The overarching purpose of our committee was to
look at the workforce of the 21st century and the access to
it by people in all parts of our society.
I would urge
you to try to keep that in mind as
we think about what we're going to do with these
20 to 28 meetings we have left. Whatever we do, we
should try to tie them in with our objective, which is to make
the workforce more open to all Canadians and more
effective for all Canadians.
So those are the things we would have
We are now engaged with the matter of the study of
HRDC grants and contributions, which is on page 2 of
our notes. These are suggestions of ways
to proceed. You'll see in there the list of witnesses
we have agreed to call, the list of some other
witnesses we might call. In paragraph (a),
under the suggested outline for the study, the idea
there is that we get some understanding of which programs,
of what they're like, of how they're administered
at the national level, at the regional level.
Paragraph (b) deals with the internal audit that the
minister published dealing with the grants and
contributions mentioned under (a). What is the nature
of that audit, for example? Was it properly carried
out? Do other auditors think it was a good audit?
Paragraph (c) is self-evident. The delivery
end of these grants and programs are the people
sponsoring the programs and the participants. Will
they be involved in our study?
Paragraph (d) is the six-point action plan presented by
Paragraph (e) is self-evident. That's the
consideration of what we've done.
I welcome your thoughts on these and other matters
related to how we proceed with this study.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Mr. Chairman, it
would be helpful if at the outset we decided what our
goal, our objective was in this study, so that we're not
studying a bunch of things, so that we know
what we want to come out with at the end of the day.
I've scratched something together that might be
helpful. It is what I would like to get out of this
Mr. Chairman, perhaps I can put it forward
in the form of a motion. If the committee could
agree on that objective, then we could design our
work plan more specifically to meet that
objective. So I move that the committee's objective be
the following: to satisfy ourselves and
thereby the House and Canadians that
HRDC grants and contributions program spending meets
reasonable and prudent requirements to safeguards and
controls, delivers demonstrated and measurable value in
relation to public moneys spent, and meets high standards
of transparency and accountability.
I'm sure that could be
improved on, but that was the first cut.
The Chair: Diane, I listened to it, and it seemed
very clear to me.
Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Could I
get a written copy of it?
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I agree with Judi.
Perhaps we could get it photocopied at the break
while we're voting.
The Chair: All right.
Mr. John Godfrey: I have no hostility
to the concept contained. My first point is that I would have
thought that was implicit in the work we were
undertaking. Rather than voting on it now, my
suggestion would be to have a general discussion
about where we might want to go, and then, if need be, we
can frame up something along those lines or some other
lines once we've had a chance to talk about it
informally. I would rather delay
talking about that until we have a sense
of where other people are coming from and where they
find deficiencies in the plan that we might want to
address possibly through that motion or possibly by
some other motion.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Chairman, my
feeling is that until we know where we're
going, it's fairly hard to discuss how we're going to
Mr. John Godfrey: Mr. Chair,
it would be helpful to have a rather
informal discussion about where we want to go, and then
we'll be able to frame it up in an appropriate—
The Chair: First we have to
photocopy it, and then we have to translate it into
French; there's very little. So I don't see any
discrepancy here, for the moment anyway.
Ms. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): I'm glad I've
been around here long enough that I no longer feel like
a new person asking questions. But on the comment from
the other member, is that not part of what we're
already doing and had already discussed that we wanted
to go through as a process, as a committee, in our last
meeting? Isn't that what we've already said we were
going to do, or is there something different there that
I haven't picked up on?
The Chair: Mrs. Ablonczy.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: If I can respond to that, I
think that's correct, Judy. What I thought would be
helpful was if we made that explicit so that we know
and can refer to what we're trying to achieve, and then
we can test out our work plan against that
objective. I think that would be prudent and helpful.
So I agree that it's nothing new from what we've
already discussed. It just puts it down in a formal
The Chairman: Mr. Crête, Ms. Ablonzcy will re-read the motion.
Would you read it again very slowly in
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Okay. It would be
to satisfy ourselves and therefore
the House and Canadians that HRDC
grants and contributions program spending meets
reasonable and prudent requirements for safeguards and
controls, delivers demonstrated and measurable value in
relation to public moneys spent, and meets high
standards of transparency and accountability.
The Chair: Okay.
Mr. Bryon Wilfert (Oak Ridges, Lib.): Mr.
Chairman, I certainly support the idea that we need
specific terms of reference. I think we need to know
what it is that we're going to evaluate, and certainly
the idea of a six-point action plan is one of the
better reference points to look at, obviously, in terms
of how we make sure the right tools are in place to
deal with the situation.
What outcomes are we looking at? The word Diane used,
to “satisfy” ourselves, is a bit vague. Actually,
it's quite vague.
“Satisfy” is very subjective. I may be satisfied,
but Dale may not be satisfied. Dale may be satisfied,
and I may not be satisfied. So obviously we look at
that, but I would suggest that at the end of day,
hopefully the objective is very clear.
We want to make sure the right tools are in place to
make sure we don't have a repetition, but I would also
suggest that we really should be trying to devise a
plan to be on two tracks, one obviously to deal with
the grants and contributions issue, but also being
mindful of the fact that we have those other issues
that we have to look at, that I think we're required to
look at and should be looking at. So in terms of the
schedule, how we devise a two-track plan to make sure
we don't fall off the rails with the first part,
particularly dealing with the main estimates and the EI
monitoring and so on, has to be done, and I thought
that was somewhat implicit in what we talked about the
other day as well.
The Chair: Jean Dubé.
Mr. Jean Dubé (Madawaska—Restigouche, PC): I
think Diane's recommendation is very good. I know Judy
mentioned at the last meeting that we have other work
to do also. That's important as well to this
committee. If we want to move quickly, we have
to be organized.
I think Diane's recommendation is good. It can be
built upon. We can improve it if you want, but we have
to be focused on where we're going if we want to move
ahead carefully, because if we're not organized, we're
just going to debate and debate this.
So, Diane, I think your recommendation is very good.
The Chair: Paul Crête.
Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouta—Les Basques,
BQ): I apologize for my absence during the first part of
the meeting, but my presence was required in the House for the
debate taking place.
On reading Ms. Ablonczy's motion and on looking at the
proposed schedule for our proceedings, I take it we need to decide
whether or not to give priority to the Human Resources Development
Mention is made of routine and follow-up business, and there
is a suggested outline for a study of HRDC grants and
contributions. However the latter item is not even included under
the heading "Routine and Follow-Up Business".
To my mind, it's clear that the committee's top priority
The Chairman: I'm sorry to interrupt.
I'm sorry, I think you misunderstood. At the
beginning, I explained that the first part of this, (a)
and (b), gave an indication of all the various human
resources things the committee should do. It wasn't
suggesting, Paul, that they be dealt with before the
study of grants and contributions. So what we're
discussing now begins on page 2, which is the suggested
outline for a study of HRDC grants and contributions.
I was simply pointing out that the first part was
things the committee should be doing, and that
simply introduced us to this. We are now, I think,
all determined to follow through on the study of grants
and contributions, unless I'm very much mistaken. Is
Mr. Paul Crête: Mr. Chairman, I have no desire to delay these
proceedings any further because I was late in arriving. However,
have you discussed the order in which the ministers would be
invited to testify?
Before I decide whether or not to support the Reform Party's
motion, I need to have a clear understanding of how we intend to
We need some assurance that this matter will be dealt with in
a forthright manner and thoroughly examined within the time frame
we agreed on at the last meeting, at which time we discussed the
interim and final reports. At the same time, we have to avoid
skirting the issue as we did yesterday during our discussion on
The Chairman: Understood.
We were beginning. I described what these notes meant
in terms of a program, and we were beginning that
discussion. But Diane's point—and it's far from me to
rationalize it—with her motion is that we need these
objectives in her motion first before we can do the
plan. We're engaged in discussing whether that is in
fact the case.
As chair, the only problem I have at the moment—this
is a perfectly legitimate motion—is whether we vote on
it sooner or later.
Mr. John Godfrey: On a point of order, Mr.
noticed that there are five folks over here and seven
folks over there. If we could have an agreement that
there were no votes taken in the next little while, and
that five and five would stay behind and two would go
over from our side, then the discussion could continue.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: What's the vote on?
Mr. Rey D. Pagtakhan (Winnipeg North—St. Paul, Lib.): What is the vote on?
Mr. Paul Crête: The first vote is on a resumption of the
orders of the day. The second vote is on a motion of closure
regarding Bill C-3, the Elections Act.
The Chair: I think we have to go over.
Mr. Paul Crête: The two votes are scheduled to take place in
succession. The first is of a more technical nature, but the second
is on a motion of closure.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
It's a very rational suggestion, but we
don't work in a rational environment.
If I can go back to Diane, do you understand the point
that has been made here? I see some interest in setting
our objectives. I see some other interest in thinking
of ways we can deal with it, and so on. If we want to
get into a debate as to which is first...
Mr. Dale Johnston (Wetaskiwin, Ref.): I
simply wanted to make the point, Mr. Chairman, that
there was some reference to the committee “satisfying
itself” as being vague. I don't think it's vague at
all. As a matter of fact, I think that's the objective
of the committee—to satisfy itself that the direction
it's taking is the right one. So I think Madam
Ablonczy's wording is right on the mark.
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: I should say—
Mr. Dale Johnston: I don't see it as being
necessarily unanimous in anything, or that every member
of the committee... I think what Mrs. Ablonczy's
motion refers to is the fact that the committee has to
be satisfied in the direction that we take.
The Chair: Okay. We have six minutes to get to
the House, so, Diane, would you... We'll come back and
we'll take up—
Mrs. Diane Ablonczy: Just so you know, I just
scratched this out when I was sitting in the House
today. It's not as if I sat up all night and laboured
over every word. My point is that if we know clearly
what we're trying to achieve, then our discussion will
be much more focused and meaningful. I don't think we
should try to edit this by committee, but I'm not
married to every word either.
We have to have some objective here.
The Chair: Okay, Paul, very briefly.
Mr. Paul Crête: I merely wanted to say that I think it would
be interesting for us to define our mandate. We have here a model.
Perhaps we could go off and vote and ponder this. Our mandate will
flow from our action plan.
The Chair: I'm going to suspend the meeting.
The meeting is suspended until after the vote. We
will all return, I hope.