Monday 27 April 1992
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Chair / Presidént: Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot ND)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East/-Est ND)
Akande, Zanana L. (Ms) (St Andrew-St Patrick ND)
Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)
Chiarelli, Robert (Ottawa West/-Ouest L)
Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North/-Nord L)
Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)
Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West/-Ouest L)
Malkowski, Gary (York East/-Est ND)
Runciman, Robert W. (Leeds-Grenville PC)
Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)
Clerk / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa
Staff / Personnel: Swift, Susan, research officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1535 in room 228.
The Chair (Mr Mike Cooper): I call this meeting of the standing committee on administration of justice to order. The first order of business:
"Your subcommittee met on Tuesday 21 April 1992 and agreed to the following:
"1. Assuming government amendments are tabled with the clerk on 4 May 1992, clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 74 will commence no earlier than 25 May 1992.
"2. If there is a significant number of government amendments on any given government bill, the individual ministry shall provide a reprinted bill for committee use, reflecting all government amendments.
"3. The clerk shall prepare a budget for consideration by the committee. This 1992-93 budget shall reflect a 12% drop in proposed expenditures from the 1991-92 budget."
Do we have a motion?
Mr David Winninger (London South): I so move the adoption of the report of the subcommittee.
The Chair: Any discussion?
Mr Gary Malkowski (York East): When you're making the budget and if the committee travels, will you include the cost of interpreters?
The Chair: We'll be discussing the budget right after the subcommittee report. Further discussion on the subcommittee report?
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): Is there any reason this said that 1992-93 shall reflect a 12% drop in proposed expenditures? Why 12%?
The Chair: I think when the subcommittee was looking at it we were looking at the economic times and the fact that we didn't use our total budget last time, and as a cost-saving measure we would reflect a 12% decrease in our budget.
Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): Same position on the provincial budget?
The Chair: No comment. Further discussion?
Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): We're going to discuss the budget afterwards?
The Chair: Yes.
Ms Carter: Okay.
The Chair: Seeing no further discussion on the subcommittee report, all those in favour? Opposed?
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: We'll now move to the budget. Everybody has it before them. Any discussion?
Ms Carter: I'm just wondering where the 12% has come off; what's been done?
The Chair: I'll let the clerk respond to that.
Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): Actually the reduction ended up being closer to 20%. I took a look at last year's budget, in which we asked for $384,000, and we only spent about $284,000 of that, so there was room to reduce things. I looked at every area where we underspent, and what I did was essentially took away one week of hearings because eight weeks were never used. So this reflects seven weeks of hearings, seven weeks of members' per diems, members' meal expenses, air travel, hotel.
We also had last year about $60,000 for simultaneous translation and interpretation into French. We had about $60,000 budgeted, and we used about $10,000. I think I still left about $40,000 in the budget, which is quite a cut from $60,000, but it's still more than what we actually used, in case we do end up translating. So it really just came from reducing one week and the French translation.
Clerk of the Committee: In response to Mr Malkowski's question -- and we may want to table the budget so I can go back over this -- if you look at "Staff," it includes nine staff travelling on the road wherever we go. That would include room for any additional staff we had to take for interpretation. But we may want to table the budget, and I can get together with Mr Malkowski and his staff to see if it's sufficient.
Mr Curling: I have a question. You always start with the most difficult one. "Miscellaneous," what's that?
Clerk of the Committee: For example, we have no computer system currently in our office that allows us to schedule witnesses before committees. There are a number of computer systems on the market that cost about $300 or $400 that would allow us to keep a database of witnesses who have ever asked to appear before a committee. For example, if you came to me and said, "Who has ever appeared on a committee that was discussing housing?" I would be able to pull that up. And if people called, I could do automatic scheduling. There isn't any category; it was either "Books and Maps" or I would throw it under "Miscellaneous." Last year, I don't think I spent anything of "Miscellaneous," but it's for whatever doesn't fit. 1540
Mr Curling: The other one is "Witness Fees and Expenses." What is the current fee paid to witnesses who are coming here?
Clerk of the Committee: In the last year we also had $10,000, and we spent about $9,900. We didn't pay any fees. I guess there are two ways. There are witnesses' expenses for which we reimburse witnesses when the committee decides not to travel. For advocacy, the committee decided not to travel, so we had high witness expenses. Witnesses' fees are often paid to expert witnesses, and there is, I guess, a Board of Internal Economy policy on exactly how much can be paid. This committee has never paid that. We simply reimbursed generally one person per group for hotel, either economy air fare or first-class train, and reasonable taxis between airports. It came to about $9,900 for the last year.
Mr Curling: That's all the tough questions I had.
Mr Runciman: Mr Chair, the clerk was talking about Mr Malkowski's question in respect to interpretation. Unless I misheard, the clerk responded that in terms of travel accommodation and travel transportation, she believes there is enough flexibility within the amounts that have been budgeted to accommodate any need for interpreters to travel with the committee. On the second page you have "Simultaneous Interpretation: $25,000." What does that cover?
Clerk of the Committee: That is for the French interpreters we have on the road. If you look at the first page, it talks about nine staff. Whenever you are talking about travel accommodation, meal expenses --
Mr Runciman: Can you give us a breakdown on the nine staff?
Clerk of the Committee: It changes depending on where you're going. It's a clerk, a researcher, up to two people from broadcast and one from Hansard; that is five. The rest are the translators we have on the road when we go into designated areas. Depending on how long you're sitting and if there are night sittings --
Mr Runciman: You're talking about two or three language translators, plus --
Clerk of the Committee: For example, the select committee on Ontario in Confederation had to have four translators.
Mr Runciman: Let's say under normal conditions.
Clerk of the Committee: Normally you're talking two to three. We have to pay all of their expenses, including meal, hotel and travel expenses. Those travel expenses can either come out of "Travel Accommodation" or, when you actually flick to "Simultaneous Interpretation," really, all that's budgeted in there is what they charge us, exclusive of the hotel accommodation and everything else. I assume everywhere we're travelling is a designated area. That does not turn out to be true, which is why there is flexibility in the budget for the number of staff plus the amount that's in "Simultaneous Interpretation."
Mr Runciman: The people who work here in translation services are not permanent employees? Do we contract out for this rather than seconding people from within?
Clerk of the Committee: Up until this year we have always had to contract staff. The interpreters from within have never travelled with committees on the road. I guess an edict came down this year that, where possible, the internal translators will now have to travel on the road; so there's been a change to their job description.
Mr Runciman: What did they do in the past when the House wasn't sitting in committee?
Clerk of the Committee: I have no idea. They did not travel with committees, so that will be changing. We will still have to pay for their food, their hotel and their travel, but we won't have to pay the per diem of simultaneous translation, assuming there are enough available and depending on how many committees are travelling. So I still budgeted assuming there would not be any available. Mr Curling: Following up on the same question: The clerk said that Confederation had four translators. Does it follow that justice would have four in travelling too?
Clerk of the Committee: Really, with the translation services that you have to contract, it depends on how many hours of the day you're sitting. Because of their contract, they work only a certain number of hours and need to rest. So if you have a committee that is starting at 8 in the morning and going until 6, plus sitting at night until 10, you need more translators than if you're sitting only for a morning or for six hours during the day.
Mr Curling: Take, for instance, a clerk who goes along on a trip. Would you take more if you're going to sit more?
Clerk of the Committee: Actually, the Confederation committee had two clerks and a student.
Mr Curling: Because of the hours of sitting?
Clerk of the Committee: It had to do with the hours of sitting, but it also had to do with the fact that the scheduling for Confederation was being done on the run, let's say, and things were being done as you were going along, so there needed to be one clerk in committee and one clerk dealing with the scheduling. Normally it's one clerk per committee, one researcher per committee. Only in special circumstances is that ever extended. It would be an exception to travel with more than one clerk or one researcher.
Mr Curling: I raise this because it's the best place to raise it, before someone has some misinterpretation about it. There was some talk, some concern and comment about the number of translators later on in the Confed, and I just want to make it clear that if it is necessary to take four, we've stated why it is necessary to take four. It gets rid of all the speculations and the whispering that goes on. That's why I asked if this was really necessary or was it because it was the first time and we felt we didn't know the demands that were placed on the translators and just took a complement that would not leave us short in our translation. Was that the intent: "Let's take four so we don't come up short of the work we have to do"? If that was the case, is it something we'll be reassessing or is it coming to say now, "Yes, it will be that; it will be four when we travel"?
Clerk of the Committee: I didn't clerk that committee but, having dealt with the translators when we did the common pause day bill, generally when you call the company and tell them what days you're sitting, they tell you how many interpreters you will need, given their arrangement with the interpreters.
Mr Curling: Maybe I shouldn't put this question to you but to the Chair. You are comfortable with the fact that the translators we take when we travel should be four?
The Chair: That was only under special circumstances that they took four; they normally just take two.
Mr Curling: How many are we taking this time? In our budget, how many have we made provisions for when we travel?
The Chair: When and if we travel, that's when we'll have to address the situation, and they will determine how many we will need, as the clerk said.
Mr Curling: But if we take two instead of taking four, more funds must be available in the budget. That's why I ask what provisions are made.
The Chair: The clerk has budgeted for three. So if we just need two part of the time and four another part of the time, it may even out.
Mr Curling: Okay.
Clerk of the Committee: I've also budgeted for three for each city and, as I pointed out before, not every city is a designated city. Getting back to Mr Malkowski's question, because we may be the committee that gets the internal translators, we wouldn't be paying any of this out to translation. Therefore, there would be enough money to deal with the translators of Mr Malkowski's staff.
The Chair: Further discussion on the budget? The Chair would entertain a motion.
Mr Mark Morrow (Wentworth East): I'll move that we adopt the budget.
The Chair: Mr Morrow has moved that we adopt the budget. No discussion? And that the Chair report it to the Board of Internal Economy?
Mr Morrow: Yes, okay, that sounds good.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Morrow.
Mr Morrow: That's no problem.
The Chair: Seeing no discussion, all those in favour? Opposed?
Motion agreed to.
The Chair: Any further business before the committee? The committee is adjourned.
The committee adjourned at 1549.