Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 16 - Evidence
OTTAWA, Friday, June 29, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 8:32 a.m. to consider a draft budget concerning its study on the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada's international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Senators, we have finished the study. We have one more witness left, which we will hear from as soon as we get back.
We realized — and I know you have realized this as well — that we cannot do a report the normal way we do a report to the Senate. Therefore, Communications has recommended, and the steering committee liked the idea, that we have a normal report to the Senate and then a report for the school boards, the teachers and the parents, because we heard a lot of things that would be beneficial for them. It will not be a long report; it will be short. Then we will have a report for the children. Both the reports for the parents and the children will be on the Internet; we are not doing printed copies. The analyst from the Library of Parliament said that he will not be able to do the kind of graphic design for the report that we would need for the children, the teachers and the parents.
For the children's summary, you will see that for a graphic designer, it would be $700 for 10 days. We have gone with that rate. That is the rate that other committees have been paying for the same service. For the teachers' summary, it is the same, $700 for 10 days of graphic design. For the writing of both the teachers' and the children's summaries, we do not believe it will cost that much because we are sure that Lyne and Julian will have done a very good job.
Could you confirm what I have just said?
Lyne Casavant, Analyst, Library of Parliament: It will involve putting the recommendations that are more relevant for the teachers in a smaller report. It will be an executive summary kind of report, focusing on the recommendations that are more relevant to the teachers.
The Chair: The next item is the video. Originally, we thought this would cost us a lot more, but we are happy to say that now a lot of this can be done within Communications. We have been able to bring this budget down because a lot will be done in-house. In addition, Communications has better equipment. That will cost $500. The printing is $1,500. Most of you know that we have in-house printing. This printing cost is for the special paper that we will need for the reports.
The total budget that we are seeking the committee's agreement on is $20,000. Are there any questions?
Senator Hubley: I have a question on the three different reports. The rationale behind that was to target our report to a certain specific group.
The Chair: That is right.
Senator Hubley: The others will be online. Is that correct?
The Chair: Yes, all of it will be.
Senator Hubley: All of it will be online?
The Chair: We looked at another way of doing this report. The Social Affairs Committee does its report as an executive summary and then they have a CD.
Senator Hubley: Yes, I have seen that.
The Chair: I am not an expert on this, but what we were told by Communications is that a CD is not the route people go nowadays. The other part of all of this is that we want to put it on the Senate website in order to encourage people to visit it.
Senator Hubley: Will it appear as one unit even though it is in three different parts? When you go to the website, will you be able to do one, two and three? For example, if you wanted to pull up the children's summary, would it be there with the teachers' summary?
The Chair: Yes.
Ms. Casavant: They should all be located in the same place. When we are talking about the children's report, it is more of a pamphlet with the recommendations that are relevant to them and the fact that they should learn what their human rights obligations are. It is a pamphlet. It will be distributed via a Tweet, which will bring them to the committee's website where they will see the pamphlet.
Senator Hubley: That makes sense.
The Chair: Anyone else?
Senator Meredith: I had a concern. Are you hiring two different graphic designers or just one to do both?
Ms. Casavant: I believe it is one person doing the children's report. In the teachers' and school board report, it will be addressed to adults and will contain more text; it will be a shorter version. Traditional reports tabled in the Senate tend to be long, with details of what we heard, and they contain a summary of the evidence. It will be less in detail.
Senator Meredith: If it is one individual doing both of them, then I am always looking at this from a businessman's standpoint in how to get the maximum dollars here at a reduced rate. I would look at saving taxpayers a few thousand dollars if the same individual is preparing all of the reports.
The Chair: We are not sure because we have never done a report for children in the Senate. We are not sure if one person can do both; that is why we are asking for this permission. Obviously, if one person can do both, we will do that.
Senator Meredith: Absolutely. You have negotiating power. I can see us saving $6,000 easily off this total for the kind of work that needs to be done with graphic artists in terms of how they do their work. I just had some work done and it cost me $900. They are able to easily do things and create a summary as well. I would recommend that if it is one individual, we look at a reduced rate.
Senator Ataullahjan: I had similar concerns, Senator Meredith. What Adam told me was that these are standard Senate rates.
Senator Meredith: The chair indicated that before you came in, but still.
Senator Ataullahjan: Like he said, it is not necessary that we use all this money. We have just gone with a higher end estimate.
Senator White: As well, I know that we typically talk about websites and connections. Today, the vast majority of people are not connecting by typing in websites; they are taking a photograph of the little tag that automatically takes them to websites. I think we want to be as high-tech as a 14-year-old is today, not a 44-year-old, so that these kids take a photograph with their phones and the next thing you know, they are on the website. They are not typing things in anymore. Whatever we do, just make sure about the design and how to access it as best as possible.
The Chair: Are there any other questions? Would you like to move it?
Senator Ataullahjan: Yes, I move the motion.
Senator Meredith: I second that.
The Chair: Senator Meredith, I can assure you that we have taken what you have said seriously and we will try our best.
I appreciate that you all came so early; we have had a late night, so thank you.
All those in favour? Anyone opposed?
Honourable Senator Ataullahjan moved that the following budget application for a special study on issues relating to cyberbullying in Canada in the amount of $20,000 be approved for submission to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. Everyone voted for it.
Concerning the ongoing process, I have spoken to the members of steering of Internal Economy. They are meeting at the beginning of August, and this will be given to them. It will be put in front of them, obviously, and then they indicated to me that they will look at this seriously. Obviously, they cannot commit because they do not have it in front of them; I would not expect them to do so.
If we know at the beginning of August that we have this budget, it will help the analyst in the preparation of their reports.
The other exciting thing that I would like to share with you is that this time — and I have never had this happen — we will have two writers: one English and one French. We will have the nuances of both languages rather than a complete translation. I think that is a positive way to proceed as well. Having the French and the English nuance will also help us with our summaries to have the French and the English nuance. Lyne is helping us.
Are there any other questions?
Senator Hubley: I would like to express our thanks to the steering committee and to you, Madam Chair. This is something new for the Senate, and I think we will be used as the model from here on in. I think it is good that you have gone forward in this way, so thank you very much.
The Chair: We have only been able to do it because of the support of the committee to think out of the box. It means a lot to us that we have all been flexible.
Thank you very much. Have a good day today and have a good summer.
Senator Meredith: Have a good summer, yes.
(The committee adjourned.)