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Appearance before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics on the Supplementary Estimates (A) 2009-2010

Ottawa

[2009-6-4]

[Check against Delivery]

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to address you once again on the issue of the additional funds my Office requested and which was included in Supplementary Estimates (A) tabled on May 14.

When I appeared before this committee on May 13, I talked about the profound institutional changes I made over the last two years to address inherent weaknesses that were limiting our ability to do our job. I also said that, while progress has been made in a number of areas, there continues to be a capacity shortfall in key functions. That’s why my Office undertook a comprehensive review of our operations and funding levels in 2008-2009 to determine whether we had sufficient resources to be able to deliver on our mandate.

At the same time, my Office developed a multi-facetted human resources strategy, which includes:

  • changing our competency profile for investigators from knowledge-based recruitment to one based on investigative ability
  • recruiting employees from universities and from outside government
  • developing standing offers to hire investigators on contract
  • reviewing learning plans and focusing on training
  • targeting under-represented employment equity groups, and
  • looking at ways to improve our employees’ workplace

In light of the conclusions of our A-Base Review, and after discussions with the Treasury Board Secretariat, we submitted a request for $2.72 million of additional funding for 2009-2010, and between $3.6 and $3 million ongoing, to the Advisory Panel on the Funding and Oversight of Officers of Parliament in March 2009. We felt that these additional funds were necessary to fully implement our business model which will significantly improve the effectiveness of our operations and maximize compliance across the regime.

Treasury Board Ministers approved $ 2.36 million of new funding for 2009-2010 and between $3 and $2.3 million ongoing. If approved by Parliament, this new funding will help supplement our current budget and enhance our capacity to fulfill our mandate. However, I am concerned with the Treasury Board’s decision not to approve the full complement of resources requested and recommended by the Advisory Panel. The submission for about $ 360,000 in additional resources for systemic investigations, report cards and advocacy activities for 2009-2010, and about $600,000 ongoing, was denied. This work, Mr. Chairman, is an essential part of our business model. The new funding would have allowed us to make the most efficient use of our investigative resources. But, Mr. Chairman, it’s not about the money, it’s about the mandate.

I understand that we are going through tough economic times right now. Therefore, in light of the Treasury Board Ministers’ decision, we will make adjustments internally. I want to reassure the committee that we will continue our systemic reviews, we will continue to file report cards with Parliament, and we will maintain our advocacy activities, albeit on a different scale than originally planned. This work is simply too important to abandon. In the meantime, we will continue our discussions with the Treasury Board and the department of Justice on the funding for systemic issues. We will report back to this Committee on how these adjustments have impacted our operations and on how we are doing financially.

Mr. Chairman, Treasury Board submissions, and responses thereto, are treated as Cabinet confidences. So, in answering your questions, I will have to be mindful of this.

Once again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to talk about our request for additional funding. We would be pleased to answer your questions.