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May 4, 2017                                                               GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Mark Browne, MHA for Placentia West – Bellevue, substitutes for Neil King, MHA for Bonavista.


Pursuant to Standing Order 68, Tracey Perry, MHA for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, substitutes for Steve Kent, MHA for Mount Pearl North.


The Committee met at approximately 6 p.m. in the Assembly Chamber.


CHAIR (Finn): Good evening everyone and welcome.


My name is John Finn; I'm the MHA for Stephenville. I'll be filling in as Chair this evening for Mr. Edmunds.


Also this evening we have substituting – Mr. Browne is substituting for Mr. King; Ms. Perry is substituting for Mr. Kent.


The first order of business will be to accept a motion to adopt the minutes of the Government Services Committee as just distributed, the minutes from a meeting of April 11.


Can I have a motion to accept the minutes?


MR. HUTCHINGS: So moved.


CHAIR: Moved by Mr. Hutchings; seconded by Ms. Haley.


Thank you.


On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.


CHAIR: First of all this evening we're going to start with the Public Service Commission and we just ask that Members be patient with us as we exchange staff. There are three departments that will be dealt with here this evening.


So with respect to the Public Service Commission, we'll start with the minister with some opening remarks.


Shall 1.1.01 carry?


Minister Bennett.


MS. C. BENNETT: Thank you.


I think if it's okay with the Members of the Committee, I'll just take a moment to introduce the officials that are here. So maybe we'll start with the deputy – or sorry, we'll start with you, Bruce.


MR. HOLLETT: Thanks.


Bruce Hollett, Chair and CEO of the Public Service Commission.


MR. SMYTH: Mike Smyth, Manager of Appointments and Accountability, Public Service Commission.


MS. TRICKETT: Wanda Trickett, Departmental Controller.


MS. C. BENNETT: For Members of the Committee, you'd be aware that the Public Service Commission, or as it is referred to as the PSC, it is the arm's-length agency that supports government's efforts to be accountable and transparent by ensuring that hiring for public service positions and appointments to agencies, boards and commissions are based on merit. The PSC has a legislated mandate for staffing policy and oversight of the staffing process to ensure fairness and open opportunity in government hiring and appointments and to provide a highly qualified, non-partisan public service for government and the people of the province.


In addition to its role in staffing and appointments, the PSC also administers and chairs classification appeal processes, administers the Conflict of Interest Act, provides Employee Assistance and Respectful Workplace programs for public sector employees, administers the ABC, or agency, board and commission application and merit-assessment process and provides support to the Independent Appointments Commission, or the IAC. The integrity and impartiality required to properly deliver on its mandate is enhanced by the neutral and independent nature and the reputation of the PSC.


With that, Mr. Chair, the heading 1.1.01, I'll leave it to you.


CHAIR: Okay. Thank you, Minister Bennett.


We'll now turn to the Committee. Before we listen to any opening remarks, I'll kindly ask that you take a moment, if you can, to introduce yourself to the minister's staff.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Keith Hutchings, MHA, District of Ferryland.


MS. DRODGE: Megan Drodge, Researcher with the Official Opposition caucus.


MS. PERRY: Tracey Perry, MHA, Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.


MS. MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA, St. John's East – Quidi Vidi.


MR. MORGAN: Ivan Morgan, Researcher, NDP caucus.


MS. HALEY: Carol Anne Haley, MHA, Burin – Grand Bank.


MR. BROWNE: Mark Browne, MHA, Placentia West – Bellevue.


MS. PARSLEY: Betty Parsley, MHA, Harbour Main.


CHAIR: Thank you very much.


We'll turn to Mr. Hutchings for any opening remarks.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Minister, I'll start off with some line items; 01, Salaries. I noticed Salaries – what was estimated in the 2016-2017 budget was exceeded. Then, in 2017-2018, the estimate is again lower than what the original estimate was in 2016-2017. I'm just wondering if I could have some explanation in regard to that.




The increase in the projected revised for '16-'17 would have been driven – I think it's $49,700. That would have been increased as a result of retirement costs that were paid to three employees in 2016-2017 totalling $141,000 for the retirement amounts. That's one of the reasons for the difference.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So those three positions, Minister, are they related to – I'm trying to remember – the 450 FTEs that were announced in last year's budget?


MS. C. BENNETT: These would have been retirements.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Retirements, okay.




MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you.


If we go to Employee Benefits, I guess that's under the bigger envelope here, but last year the budget amount was not used, there's a small difference there. What would that have been?


MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, just for clarity, are you asking about the decrease from $6,600 to $2,700?


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yes, from the estimate and from the actual.


MS. C. BENNETT: So that decrease was from the reduced cost by restricting participation in conferences and deferring some employee training.


The Public Service Commission – and I'll ask the CEO to correct me if I happen to speak incorrectly – when their budget is approved, because they're a stand-alone independent organization, they have to make sure they take their full envelope for the year, and they have to manage it throughout the year because they don't have the opportunity to come to Treasury Board looking for additional funding. So they have to be stand alone.


In this case, there was $3,900 less spent on travel. The reason the increase then is at $7,600 over $6,600 reflects the requirements as per the departmental zero-based budgeting submission.


I can get Bruce to speak to that if you'd like.




MR. HALLETT: Yes, as the minister said, we put a very tight rein on anything we would consider to be controllable costs last year because it became evident very early in the year that we were going to be running into trouble with respect to our EAP spending which is, of course, an open-ended program or a demand-driven program. So we basically held back on everything that we could.


In terms of the money for next year being up by $1,000, that's based on the professional requirements for our EAP counsellors in terms of what they do. The things we deferred last year, we have to do this year in terms of keeping their accreditations, et cetera, up to where they need to be.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So that would be related to certification of EAP counsellors.


MR. HALLETT: And ongoing professional development for them to make sure they're up to date in terms of alternative dispute resolution, all those things that they have to be on top of.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. So it wouldn't be related to the utilization of EAP or how many EAP. This is just related to certification –


MR. HALLETT: Correct.


MR. HUTCHINGS: – career development, those kinds of things?


MR. HALLETT: Correct.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


Down below on Transportation and Communications, the budget amount was not used there last year. I think it was $14,300 was unused, and then this year it was bumped up again. There is an increase there. Could you just give us some details on that?




So the decrease in the Transportation and Communications from last year was that the travel activity, as Bruce has indicated, was severely restricted to essential travel only. The Independent Appointments Commission met regularly throughout the year and the EARWP continues to provide training intervention services across the province, but travel was certainly restricted. I think the travel for the IAC came in less than?


MR. HOLLETT: Yeah, we didn't have any experience of course with the IAC prior to last year, so we wanted to make sure that we had enough for them. Again, because of the pressures on EAP costs, we deferred whatever we could in the way of travel, including Respectful Workplace and EAP training that they would normally go out and do across the province. We deferred some of that until this year.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, so the transportation costs for the Independent Appointments Commission members would be included in this line item?




MR. HUTCHINGS: And in 2016-2017, what were the actual travel costs for the Independent Appointments Commission?


MR. HOLLETT: It would have been in the vicinity of $15,000.


MR. HUTCHINGS: $15,000?




MR. HUTCHINGS: In your projections for 2017-2018, has that projection increased or is it somewhat status quo when you went through the zero-based budgeting process?


MR. HOLLETT: We would have estimated about $20,000 for them because it would be a full year where it was not a full year last year.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


If I could go to Professional Services, the budget exceeded from the Estimate last year and we look at the revised. What would that be for in regards to that increase?


MS. C. BENNETT: That would have been as a result of the increase in Employee Assistance and the increased uptake. The uptake would have been driven from a number of things related to personal situations that employees found themselves in, personal situations that their spouses and family members found them in. That was what drove the Professional Services increase in '16-'17. In '17-'18, the Public Service Commission requested that increase be carried into their budget to reflect that as well.


MR. HUTCHINGS: What we're looking at here in regards to EAP, that would have been contracted services as well as in-house or would it just have been all contract?


MS. C. BENNETT: My understanding is that the first intake is done at the Public Service Commission.




MS. C. BENNETT: And should an individual need or require to be referred to somebody outside the PSC, counsellors will provide that.


Bruce, I don't know if you want to add anymore texture to that?


MR. HOLLETT: No, that's exactly right, Minister. We do the initial intake or the triage, if you will. Then we put them out to whatever counsellors in the community are best suited to handle the particular issue that people are presenting with.




This line item here, would the majority of that be for EAP services?


MR. HOLLETT: Virtually all of it.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Virtually all of it. Okay.


I see there's a small increase in Estimate for 2017-2018. It's not a line item, but certainly in regard to the budget amount do you foresee an increase in regard to EAP services or status quo? What's your thought in terms of going forward this year?


MS. C. BENNETT: Well, the department or the PSC is going to end the year for fiscal '16-'17 with increased expenses of about $131,000 related to the Employee Assistance Program.




MS. C. BENNETT: What we've done is we've made the allowance for $150,000 so that, again, to provide, as I said earlier, an opportunity for the PSC to be able to do its work. Because it doesn't have the opportunity to come and look for support from other departments, it has to stand alone on its own. So we wanted to make sure that the PSC was properly resourced, particularly, with sensitivity to the need for Employee Assistance Program availability.


Of the $150,000 there was also $5,000 in the Professional Services that was identified under zero-based budgeting. That nets the $145,000 increase.




Under Revenue – Provincial there's a revised number for 2016-2017. I'm just curious, this $4,900, what would that be?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yeah, that was the recovery of a duplicate payment recovery.




MS. C. BENNETT: As well, recovery from the English school board. The PSC will support the English school board with EAP services, should it be necessary, but it's on a cost-recovery basis. The school board would then – and it would be booked as revenue.




Minister, you referenced the fact that the Public Service in its budget envelope wouldn't go back during the year, I guess, to Treasury Board or the government to increase that envelope. On the line here, Total: Services to Government and Agencies, the budget for 2016-2017 Estimate was $2.482 million. The revised was $2.650 million. Where would that increase come from if they couldn't go back to government for that?


MS. C. BENNETT: On the total? I spoke in error because the $130,000 for the EAP was an approved item for the Treasury Board, so just to clarify that for the Member opposite.




MS. C. BENNETT: They did come into Treasury Board and ask.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So during the year they would have been back for EAP and looked for an increase.


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, and it would have been a directive.




Thank you.


Mr. Chair, if somebody else wants to ask a question, they can.


CHAIR: Sure. Thank you.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


I don't have any questions for the line items but I do have some general questions.


Minister, first looking at the description of what the mandate and what the PSC is tasked with, it has responsibility for establishing and enforcing policy for the protection of the merit principle in recruitment and selection within the public service. And that's fine, but I'm wondering if any thought is being put into bringing in other principles such as the equity principle, and not just gender equity, people with disabilities, race, et cetera. Because it seems to me, it's at this point where we need to have that principle in and I'm wondering if any thought has been given to that.


MS. C. BENNETT: I certainly appreciate the Member opposite's thoughts and opinions on that. Any work that government is undertaking to look at policies like that, I don't have the information to share in Estimates.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Maybe we can get that in another way outside of Estimates, maybe sitting down with people who are working on the policy and get some information on that.




MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


And with regard to the EAPs, is a record kept of – certainly the numbers are being kept – the different areas that people are requiring the service?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'll let the CEO speak, but I would suggest that at a minimum, for privacy reasons, although the Commission may keep records to be able to forecast what it needs in actual supports, particularly in skill sets, as Bruce as indicated for the individuals that may be triaged when they come in, I would suggest for privacy reasons that type of information wouldn't be kept, but I'll turn it over to you, Bruce.


MS. MICHAEL: I'm only thinking about numbers. I certainly wouldn't want to know names or departments even but if there are some that have to do with sexual harassment, different things, I don't see a privacy issue there, but I'll wait to hear Mr. Hollett's explanation.


MR. HOLLETT: We track the intake numbers very, very carefully and monitor the overall usage and look at what proportion of the public service is using EAP from one year to the next. Very early in the year we can tell, based on the intake numbers, whether we project that we're going to have a budgetary issue for that year.


With respect to the types of issues that people present with when they come to EAP, we also track that very closely from the perspective of making sure, number one, that our own staff have the right skill sets to deal with that and, secondly, that we have the right supports in terms of the providers that we use out in the community.


If we're running into a new and particular issue, certainly in the addictions area, for example, then we may find that we need to find more counsellors, not just in the St. John's area but in other areas of the province as well to help us deal with that. But we track that.


Ms. Michael, overall, I think when we look at the types of issues that people present with, there are no substantial changes from one year to the next in the last three or four years that I can put my finger on to say that one area has become particularly challenging, except perhaps in the addictions area.


MS. MICHAEL: So it's –


MR. HOLLETT: But it's more anecdotal in terms of us understanding what the needs are in the community and making sure that we're able to deal with those as they come in.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Is that information that is collated and could be shared?


MR. HOLLETT: We do maintain statistics with respect to overall usage in terms of the numbers of people that we intake every year. I'm not aware that we keep statistics as such in terms of the issues that people are presenting with.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Minister, I think last year when we went through this we learned that there was a backlog in classification appeals. Where do things stand right now with backlogs?


MR. HOLLETT: We are making our way through the backlog. It was a very large backlog on the management appeals. We're making good progress with it. We're not through the backlog but we are plowing through them.


MS. MICHAEL: Well, there are other types of appeals as well, obviously. Is there a backlog there as well?


MR. HOLLETT: The other types of appeals that we would see would be people coming with staffing appeals, that they don't like the outcome of the staffing action. But we don't have a backlog with those. We're usually able to deal with those very, very quickly.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Minister, I'm just wondering, how have things gone with the IAC and has the Public Service Commission been able to keep up with – is there extra workload, I guess I should ask first of all, and is there enough staffing, if there is, to keep up with that?


MS. C. BENNETT: I think the volunteer members of the IAC certainly would indicate that the staff in the PSC has been very supportive and very helpful. I think they've worked on new processes and systems to be able to move through the volume of activity that they've had to do. If you think about it as a start-up entity that had to kind of create the processes in-house, there was certainly a lot of collaboration between staff and the PSC and collaboration from the volunteer members.


There's no doubt that the volume of positions, particularly because we were just coming out of a former administration into a new administration, positions had been vacant for a period of time. The IAC is working very diligently to provide recommendations and I think they would say they've been making progress.


We've also seen progress and activity changes in recruitment activity. Certainly, this is continuous. Any time you try to recruit volunteers of individuals to sit and serve the public, you want to make sure you are encouraging people from broadly across the province to participate, from every corner of the province, and certainly the PSC has taken a number of initiatives with a number of different departments to kind of support the work that the volunteer committee does. We've seen some really good results, I think, from some of the inflow of resumes that has been coming in.


The committee, as you may or may not be aware, there are five members and they split into two groups of three to deal with particular recruitment activities. So for that reason, they're able to share some of the workload. And we continue to look for feedback from the committee on things we can go to improve. We'll certainly be working on continuous improvement activities to make sure that the IAC operations and the results meet the expectation of Bill 1.




Minister, could we have, I guess not an explanation so much, but give us an idea of all the different ways in which the positions are advertised.


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes. Bruce, do you want to speak to that?


MR. HOLLETT: First of all, we post all of the opportunities on the appointments website, which is linked right off government's website. Depending on the nature of the position, periodically we'll have Mr. Wells put out a press release announcing that we are recruiting for a particular opportunity.


We use Twitter very extensively. We found that to be quite helpful. We reach out to different industry organizations. Or if we're looking for lawyers we'll reach out to the Law Society, we'll have them promote it to their members. We reach out to the Institute of Corporate Directors and have them promote it with their members.


Also, every time we do recruitment for a particular board, we'll talk to the department or entity involved and ask them to provide us with a list of their stakeholders. Then, we will do our best to reach out to those stakeholder groups to have them promoted amongst their members.


We typically do as much of that as we possibly can to try and generate interest in people putting their names into the process and going to the application portal, having a look and seeing if there's anything there that interests them in terms of a board opportunity.


MS. C. BENNETT: I'll just add that the Women's Policy Office has also supported the efforts of the PSC to make sure that we are communicating in places that may be non-traditional to encourage women from across the province to participate as well. We're continuing to put very serious effort into that.




Just one more question, if I may ask it. He's saying no, so I'm going to go ahead.


The Respectful Workplace Program is still in place, no changes?




MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


That's all from me, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you.


Minister, in regard to the Independent Appointments Commission, the only cost incurred by government overall, is that the cost of travel and any services that are used by the Public Service to assist the Independent Appointments Commission?


MS. C. BENNETT: Administrative services to support the committee would be housed and coordinated through the PSC. All of the PSC materials – paper, whatever they would need to go through the day-to-day activity that they do, is supported through the PSC and the PSC's budget. So there's no interaction with any other agency, board, commission or government department by the IAC that I'm aware of.


MR. HOLLETT: No, that's correct. The only other potential cost is if, for example, a particular organization for which we are recruiting, maybe a CEO wanted to do a national advertising campaign, then that would be paid by the department itself or the entity itself, but we have not had any of that yet.




These are all volunteers, right, so there's no per diem or anything paid when they sit?






I don't know if you have it now, but could we get a list of the independent appointment reviews, how many have been done for positions in government, how many referrals have been done to Cabinet and to a minister?


MR. HOLLETT: I can give you some of those numbers right now, if you want.




MR. HOLLETT: In terms of the activity so far, over 1,100 individuals have applied. We've had about 2,500 applications, because some of them have applied for multiple boards.




MR. HOLLETT: So far between the IAC for tier one and the PSC for tier two, we've processed 48 different board opportunities in terms of completing them through to the recommendation stage. We've done three CEO positions that have been complete, and those have been sent through to the recommendation and appointments made to those.


We have another 87 boards in play at the moment for which we are recruiting both IAC and the tier two ones that are done with the PSC, and we've got three executive recruitments that are ongoing now that are not complete yet. So it's been quite busy.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So there are 48 that have been completed and appointed?


MR. HOLLETT: Forty-eight for which recommendations have been sent.




MR. HOLLETT: I mean, that would include right up to last week, for example, in terms of recommendations sent. Not all of those appointments are made yet, but 48 recommendations so far.


MR. HUTCHINGS: No, fair enough.


Are you aware of any recommendations that have been rejected?


MR. HOLLETT: All of the appointments that have been made so far have been directly from the recommendation lists that were sent by the IAC and the PSC, without exception.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, if I might.


MR. HUTCHINGS: No, go ahead.


MS. C. BENNETT: I would just add that when the Independent Appointments Commission began its work, the volunteer board held a series of meetings planning strategic planning days with staff at the PSC. I was invited to attend and, as part of that, we had significant discussion about the expectation that the recommendations coming from the committee would feed into the Cabinet decision-making process and I made a commitment to the members of the volunteer board, just as we had made in the legislation, that the recommendations from the Independent Appointments Commission would be those that Cabinet would consider.


I just wanted to add that to Mr. Hollett's confirmation, that's been what's happening.




Minister, is there a wait time – I don't know if you covered this or not, I'm just curious – for EAP? What that wait time would be now?


MR. HOLLETT: No, there's no wait time.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, no wait time.


Thank you.


There was an attrition plan started in 2015. I know we talked about it last year as well. Is that still being pursued by the public service?


MS. C. BENNETT: The salary dollars that we talked about, and the former administration had put in as attrition, all those salary dollars had already been taken out by the budget that you guys had done in 2015.




MS. C. BENNETT: The staffing changes that would have been made since then would have been based on the analysis of what's been going on in different departments and in this particular entity.


Bruce, is there anything that you want to speak to specifically about your staffing?


MR. HOLLETT: With respect to staffing levels at the PSC, we had 18 people last year at the PSC, including one temporary and one part time. This year we have 17; one temporary and one part time.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Last year, I know in our discussion, you indicated there was a vacant position that would support the Independent Appointments Commission.




MR. HUTCHINGS: Is that person the only person that still supports the Independent Appointments Commission or are others because your numbers have dropped from 18 to 17? So I guess –


MR. HOLLETT: The drop from 18 to 17 is not related to the Independent Appointments Commission.




MR. HOLLETT: We have two people who support the IAC process almost full time, not quite full time, and there are probably three others of us who spend varying amounts of time on support to the Independent Appointments Commission. The one position reduced was in investigations.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. They would be investigations related to what?


MR. HOLLETT: They would be general investigations throughout government. Whether those would be harassment investigations, et cetera.




MR. HOLLETT: Human Resource Secretariat has primary responsibility for investigations. The PSC had an investigator position there for years. Essentially, it was we would help when needed.




MR. HOLLETT: Through the restructuring process, that entire responsibility was given to or left with the Human Resource Secretariat. We did not have primary responsibility at all.




One of the functions in the description for the Public Service Commission is support the Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee. Who chairs that committee?




MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, so who else would be on that committee?


MR. HOLLETT: The committee members would include an assistant deputy minister from the Department of Justice. All the positions are by position as opposed to by individual. So it would also be the deputy minister of Human Resource Secretariat, deputy minister of Transportation and Works and the president of the College of the North Atlantic. Those are the other members of the Advisory Committee.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. When would that committee have been appointed? Is that an annual appointment or is it position appointed? Basically, it's the status quo.


MR. HOLLETT: Standard.




How many reviews would the Advisory Committee have done this year? Do you have any idea?


MR. HOLLETT: We do on average – I don't have the exact number – 15 a year.




Would that be public knowledge on which ones were done?


MR. HOLLETT: No, it wouldn't. We get a direct request from a deputy on a particular issue to have a look at it and we will provide them advice. They're always about individuals so we don't make that information (inaudible).


MR. HUTCHINGS: So that would maybe be driven by a deputy minister in a department who, before hiring, may want to have some feedback on possible conflict to through the Advisory Committee? Would that be how it would work?


MR. HOLLETT: That is a scenario but it's not the most common scenario. The most common scenarios would be situations like, for example, a deputy may contact me and say one of our staff has been invited to a trade show down in New York, all expenses paid. Is it okay for them to take it? We would provide advice on that. Or somebody retired from the department six months ago, we need them to come back for a month on a contract to help finish up construction of a bridge.




MR. HOLLETT: Those are the types of issues that we would get into.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Would you ever see if it's initial appointment or initial review of a position that someone was going into that you'd be asked to review whether, in your opinion, there would be any possible conflict under the conflict legislation?


MR. HOLLETT: On occasion, we are asked – somebody has just been hired and they, for example, or their spouse might be involved in a business that in some way might be perceived to be doing business with the department. The deputy will ask us for advice as to how that should be structured to ensure that there is no conflict. That does happen from time to time.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


Just a final question on the merit principle in regard to the Public Service Commission: When you're going to your competitions, how does that work in regard to bargaining, non-bargaining and management in the public service? Is it viewed all the same or is there any variance from that in regard to using the merit principle?


MR. HOLLETT: Number one, I need to clarify that the Public Service Commission would be doing staffing policy.




MR. HOLLETT: But the Human Resource Secretariat, the staff would be doing the actual staffing itself. The merit principles would be the same regardless of whether a position was management or bargaining. But there may be situations with union positions where seniority or other factors may also come into play and may require a secondary evaluation in terms of: If you have two candidates that are virtually very, very close in terms of how they came out, the union contract may require, or may suggest, that the position be given to the person with the greatest seniority. Those will be the only differences between management and union positions.


CHAIR: I remind the Member his time has expired.


Shall 1.1 –


MR. HUTCHINGS: Excuse me.


MS. MICHAEL: I would like to ask a couple of more questions, please.


CHAIR: My apologies.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Just coming back, Minister, to the classification appeals – and as the deputy has said backlog continues – I'm just wondering: What is the length of time, the wait time, for getting an appeal settled?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'll turn that to the deputy.


MR. HOLLETT: When we've been doing bargaining unit appeals we are essentially up-to-date which usually means that we can get an appeal heard within three months. For the management appeals, we're still dealing with the backlogs, so some of those are, in some cases, several years old. New ones that come in, it would be reasonable – we tell people that we're not going to get to it in the short term, certainly what we would consider to be a desirable period, which is about three months, but we will get to it.


MS. MICHAEL: But sometimes they're longer.


MR. HOLLETT: Sometimes they're longer.


MS. MICHAEL: Minister, with regard to the staffing around appeal investigations, I see from the active staff complement that there are just three positions there: employee services officer, info management technician and administrative officer. Is that correct?


MS. C. BENNETT: You're getting that from the Salary Details, is it?


MS. MICHAEL: No, I'm looking at the Public Service Commission, Active Staff Complement.


MS. C. BENNETT: Okay. Sorry, you –


MS. MICHAEL: The temporary position, the employee services officer, and then two permanents, the information management technician and the administrative officer.


MS. C. BENNETT: I'm sorry, I didn't understand the question.


MS. MICHAEL: Are they all the staff who deal with appeal investigations? They're identified as appeal investigations staff.


MS. C. BENNETT: Understood.


MR. HOLLETT: The way that these are presented is based on the historical structure of the Public Service Commission which doesn't really translate to the way the place is actually organized today.


With respect to appeals and investigations, we don't do investigations anymore. But for appeals, the administrative officer who is there is the person who administrators the classification appeal process. The information management technician supports the PSC generally, but it had been voted under the previous structure in the Appeals and Investigations Division.


When it comes to staffing appeals, those would be handled through the accountability and certification area of the Public Service Commission, who are the same people who support the staffing process, do the staffing audits and also support the Independent Appointments Commission.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, so this area is just management appeals.




MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


MS. C. BENNETT: If I may, the other thing I point out for the Member is that the Salary Reports – as we talked about last year, we made a decision to have the Salary Reports created from the PeopleSoft payroll software. Some of the –


MS. MICHAEL: Created from where?


MS. C. BENNETT: From the PeopleSoft payroll system.




MS. C. BENNETT: It's a comprehensive database of employee information. I appreciate and I'm glad that the Member asked for clarity on what work is assigned to whom. It's important that the assumptions, when you read these notes, should be to continue to ask for clarity as to who is doing what work, because depending on how they've been set up in the payroll system or how the actual information is printed, may not necessarily provide the answer to the question.


Mr. Hollett has provided the answer and I just wanted to call that out for the Member.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


As far as I can see – for example, with regard to this salary report – the departmental total is just about $60,000 out from what is in your budget. It seems to be pretty accurate.


MS. C. BENNETT: Uh-huh.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


Those are all the questions I have.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Any further questions?


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: No, we're good.


Thank you.


CHAIR: Okay.


Shall 1.1.01 carry?


All those in favour?




CHAIR: Against?




On motion, subhead 1.1.01 carried.


On motion, Public Service Commission, total head, carried.


CHAIR: That concludes the Public Service Commission. Thank you very much to the staff.


Minister, next we'll go to –


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, we'll take a minute just to switch over the staff. I just wanted to take a minute to thank the officials who have worked hard not only to prepare for this evening's Estimates, but also who have worked very hard through the entire process of building this budget and particularly the work that they've done.


We've been working on this since last fall. I certainly want to acknowledge their efforts at the Table tonight. I'm sure I speak on behalf of the other Members as well.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you.


CHAIR: Okay, we'll now be looking at the Women's Policy Office.


CLERK (Murphy): 2.8.01.


CHAIR: 2.8.01.






Well, before we get into the questions I just wanted to provide a little bit of some opening comments and talk a little bit about what the Women's Policy Office is responsible for doing in government for the Committee.


The Women's Policy Office responsibility includes advising government on gender issues. They are responsible for working with departments to apply gender-based analysis to the development of policy, programs as well as legislation.


The Women's Policy Office leads the Violence Prevention Initiative, which is an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary strategy to address violence in our communities and also to partner with equity-seeking groups. They collaborate with and fund women's centres, the Multicultural Women's Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador, SHOP, THANL, NAWN as well as Violence Prevention NL.


Some of the ongoing initiatives to enhance women's economic security: Included in The Way Forward you would have heard or read information that we committed to require women's equity plans on government infrastructure projects. They are also working on a union collaboration committee to ensure that women who have taken the opportunity to train in the trades have the opportunity to continue to participate, and working on pay equity legislation, supporting indigenous women initiatives such as the indigenous Women in Mining project. They're also working with SNL on the procurement act regulations and are participating in trade policy development.


Some of the ongoing initiatives to enhance women's social policy: They are working with the PSC and the OCIO to improve the IAC website. They're working with the community sector to bring gender-specific board governance training to women. We are developing an equity profile which is a compilation of statistical data about women in Newfoundland. We are continuing the promotion of women on agencies, boards and commissions.


They're also engaging with community groups to support shared-space initiatives and engaging with transition houses, THANL and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation to improve the service delivery to women and children in the province's shelters and developing a women's leadership strategy.


Some of the ongoing initiatives on the Violence Prevention strategy that I'd like to share with the Committee today before we get into the Estimates: The Women's Policy Office is responsible for leading the increased collaboration among the violence prevention NL partners and to promote shared services and greater impact.


They are supporting training sessions in the community for the VAAT program. They are working with Justice on initiatives such as the provision of legal advice and supports to victims of sexual assault and working to increase the capacity in Labrador, through THANL, to support indigenous women and children fleeing violence. They're working with the interdepartmental committee on issues of homelessness and supporting the housing strategy and supportive living.


With that, Mr. Chair, I'll turn it over to you and the Committee for questions.


CHAIR: Thank you, Minister, and just your staff with you as well.


MS. C. BENNETT: Right. Thank you. It's been a long day.


I'll turn it over to the deputy minister for Women's Policy Office.


MS. BALLARD: Donna Ballard, Deputy Minister.


MS. TRICKETT: Wanda Trickett, Departmental Controller.


CHAIR: Excellent. Thank you.


And opening remarks.


Ms. Perry.


MS. PERRY: Thank you very much.


I don't usually have opening remarks; I usually start out with the line items. You said in your introduction something intriguing. You said you're working on pay equity legislation. Can you elaborate on that?


MS. C. BENNETT: Donna, do you want to speak to that?


MS. BALLARD: Well, of course, there was a motion in the House this session to start that process about – we should be looking at pay equity legislation, so we're starting now. We're collaborating with the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women.


At this point we're doing some jurisdictional scans and some research. Then we'll start pulling together a departmental committee to look at some options.


MS. PERRY: What kind of a time frame? Do you think it will be coming forward to the House this session?


MS. C. BENNETT: The work that the Women's Policy Office is doing currently would be the background and research work. When we have that completed, that work will be provided to the department for the department's review.


As to a timeline, I don't have a timeline that I can speak to tonight. Certainly, as we get clarity as to the volume of work we have to do, we'll have a better idea of the timeline.


MS. PERRY: Okay. Thanks so much.


I'm going to start with 2.8.01. In 2016-'17 you actually spent less in your revised than what you had budgeted. Can you explain why that was?


MS. C. BENNETT: Just for clarity – I want to make sure – you're referencing the $871,000 number?




MS. C. BENNETT: Right.


MS. PERRY: 2.8.01.




That reflects savings from the '16-'17 budget due to position vacancies.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


This year then, in your new budget, you've allocated $900,000. You anticipate what changes there?


MS. C. BENNETT: We're down in the budget from last year. There's a $79,700 annualization of prior year decisions, there's a $95,300 zero-based budgeting impact and a $15,800 change to management structure that are offsetting the $79,700. The $95,300 and the $15,800 offset the $79,000 to net $31,000.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Can we get an organizational chart for WPO? I know it's not a large entity but it would be nice to have an organizational chart. Are there any contractual positions included in those Salaries?


MS. C. BENNETT: Since it is a small department, I think with the Member's permission I'm going to ask the deputy to speak to the org structure right here and she'll provide it for you.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. C. BENNETT: She'll provide it for you.


MS. PERRY: Sure.




Of course, it's myself, as the deputy minister, and there's one administrative support person. There's a second administrative support person who is also our information manager. She is actually supported through the Opening Doors Program.


We have a financial administrative person who is currently on long-term sick leave. We're absorbing that work within the organization and with the help of the staff from the departmental controller.


We have three management positions: one is the manager of Economic Policy, the second is the manager of Social Policy and the third is a newly created position of manager of Violence Prevention. We're hoping to post that very soon. There are two analyst positions: one is a secondment, but it is backfilled and the second one is a short-term sick leave which we're hoping to fill in the interim very shortly.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Do you have any temporary positions in place over there at the moment?




MS. PERRY: No temporaries. Do you have any 13-weekers over there?


MS. BALLARD: Pardon me?


MS. PERRY: Thirteen-weekers?




MS. PERRY: Okay.


In terms of Transportation and – oh, no, before I leave Salaries though, I do want to ask: In terms of the attrition plan, is your department following the 2015 attrition plan?


MS. BALLARD: We didn't have an attrition plan as such, but the financial administrative person, when she retires, which we're expecting within a year, we won't be refilling that position because we're able to absorb it.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. BALLARD: I should mention also – I didn't when I talked about the Salaries – some of that salary money, $175,000, is actually for the intimate partner violence prevention unit to pay the salaries of one RNC officer and one analyst.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Moving on now to Transportation and Communications, what does this include? From budget '16 to budget '17 there's a savings of $300, but the zero-based budgeting documents indicate a savings of $22,900. Could you explain that?




There was $22,900 under the zero-based budgeting and there was $22,600 re-profiled of funds based on intended requirements to make sure that it was in the right line items. So that was the net of $300 that you're seeing.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


In terms of Transportation and Communications, what else does that include? What types of travel are funded under here? Is it just staff travel or do you also extend some coverage of travel to some of the outside groups for conferences and that kind of thing?


MS. BALLARD: The departmental travel itself, of course, is federal-provincial-territorial travel which is limited. The minister and myself have a meeting each year and an Atlantic program as well.


The majority of it is we host and fund an indigenous women's conference every year. We do fund for the indigenous women to come together. This year, they have established a steering committee and they have particular areas that they want to focus on. We've been helping them and using travel money from last year to come together to put forward a proposal to the federal government which, if we're successful, we will continue to build on that. So we will provide the travel for those women.


We also fund indigenous women to attend the National Indigenous Women's Summit. Sometimes, depending on what funding may be available, we also fund to participate in meetings related to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls meetings and so forth. Also, there is some staff travel when we provide support to companies who are required to do women employment plans. So sometimes we travel to those regions to provide that support.


We host economic round tables – we just had one but it was in St. John's last week – which brought together trades women and unions to talk about more support they need in the unions. We're going to be hosting another one on the West Coast next week which is going to be about trades women over there and where the work is finishing on Emera. Hopefully, they'll be working on the new infrastructure project over there. That's the kind of travel that we do.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. C. BENNETT: If I might, I just wanted to also add that the officials from the department last year had the opportunity – and it was a purposeful opportunity – to visit all of the shelters. Do you want to talk about that?


MS. BALLARD: All except Rigolet. We couldn't get in there because of the weather. But would you like me …?


What we did is we did a review. We travelled to all of the shelters throughout the province – except, unfortunately, for Rigolet; we weren't able to get in there – just to see and to assess the condition and their needs. As a result of that, there was increased funding this year through Health and Community Services. We also have some planning for how we can support them in the future.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. C. BENNETT: I didn't have the privilege of visiting them all with you, except for Rigolet, but I was able to get to Corner Brook and Gander. I was certainly pleased to be briefed on the results of the visits that took place in Labrador. It's certainly important to get staff to actually go into the shelters and see.


MS. PERRY: Yes, absolutely.


I know from my experience having worked there, there are a lot of issues and funding constraints, in particular, that, not just the shelters, but some of the other groups face. So when we get to, I guess, Grants and Subsidies, I want to elaborate a little bit more as well on some of these, the funding these groups are receiving and some initiatives around how they can achieve a little bit more with the money they get.


But before we get there, Professional Services, what services does WPO use and who do you purchase the services from generally?


MS. BALLARD: Professional Services is entirely funding that we give to the RCMP for the intimate violence prevention unit and they fund an officer and an analyst and then we do the operational costs as well because of the contract that the province has with that organization.


MS. PERRY: Okay. So why last year was $60,000 not spent?


MS. BALLARD: It was a vacancy, but they have it filled now.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


In terms of the $2,100 that was cut for zero-based budgeting, what impact do you think that's going to mean for operations?


MS. BALLARD: The $2,100, that was a little extra that we had in Professional Services over and above what we were using for the IPV; we weren't using it. We didn't need any other professional services.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Purchased Services looks like it's cut in half, what is happening here?


MS. C. BENNETT: That reflects $4,000 that was achieved through the zero-based budgeting and $22,600 re-profiled. You'll remember when you asked the question about Transportation and Communications.


MS. PERRY: Yeah.


MS. C. BENNETT: I mentioned the number was put in a different category.


MS. PERRY: Yeah.


MS. C. BENNETT: And this is the other side of that.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. C. BENNETT: It was put in Purchased Services to make sure it was accurately reflected in the right Estimates line.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


So now we're down to Grants and Subsidies. First, I'd like to ask for a list of all the entities and organizations that get this funding and if I could have a list of the amount of funding per organization and entity as well.


MS. BALLARD: I can actually give that to you now.


MS. PERRY: Okay.




MS. PERRY: Wait now. Mr. Chair –


CHAIR: Lorraine.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


If I may point out, Minister, anytime a request is made, can both parties get the information?




MS. MICHAEL: Thank you.


MS. C. BENNETT: Donna's going to give it to you now; the deputy minister's going to give it to you now if that's okay.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, yeah.


MS. BALLARD: We fund 10 regional coordinating committees against violence and each of them receives $80,000, except for Violence Prevention, Labrador, which receives an extra $20,000 because of the challenges with travel.


We have eight Status of Women Councils and they receive $142,625. That is up $15,000 from last year. That's with the increased funding this year.


MS. PERRY: (Inaudible) operating budget?


MS. BALLARD: Yes, an extra $15,000 went in this year.


MS. PERRY: That's not per council, that's spread over eight councils?


MS. BALLARD: No, $15,000 per council.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


MS. BALLARD: It was increased this year.


MS. PERRY: They must be some happy.




MS. PERRY: Well, I'm sure they'd like more, but …


MS. BALLARD: The Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador are receiving $200,000, and they are increased $95,000 from last year.


One of the things they're doing with that money is they have partnered with Violence Prevention, Labrador, which is one of our regional coordinating councils I just discussed, and they're creating and hiring a joint position whose main job is going to be to help with the transition houses in Labrador; the five transition houses, but specifically to help with the three on the coast.


There was also an increase through Health and Community Services in the Rigolet transition house, which was open two days a week and now because of the funding for this year, will be open seven days a week. There is a brand new transition house about to be opened in Hopedale. That was funded through government and the regional health authority. We are helping them negotiate through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing with the federal government for funding for a new transition house in Nain.


This position will help to coordinate all of that work and help those communities coordinate together. So that a woman doesn't necessarily have to go to the house in Rigolet or be transferred to Hopedale but perhaps may go to the other two Aboriginal communities on the coast. The rest of that money we're hoping will be used to increase support to all of the transition houses to help them with their governance, their governing structures and their boards of directors.


We also fund the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault and Crisis Prevention Centre, that's $110,000. We fund the multicultural organization of Newfoundland and Labrador, $142,600, and that's up from last year. We've increased the funding to that organization by $42,600. Now we've brought it up to the same level as the Women's Centre.


New funding this year for the Safe Harbour Outreach Project, which is a support group for women in the sex trade industry. They have a number of community partners but it's work from the St. John's council. They're being provided $141,700.


We fund the Newfoundland and Labrador Aboriginal Women's Network, $100,000. We provide an application based program to support indigenous women grants, $230,000. So that's been the same. Then we have a small amount of money for miscellaneous in which we help support some travel or some meetings, that sort of thing. We also provide funding to the Provincial Advisory Council and the Status of Women, $418,000.


MS. PERRY: Okay. I know I'm out of time but can I ask one quick supplemental here on this one?


A little while ago I referred to something I wanted to elaborate on when we got to grants. When I was working with them back in 2015, a lot of these regional coordinating meeting committees, particularly those in here on the Avalon, and the Sexual Assault and Crisis Prevention Centre, they were concerned about tight budgets and interested in sharing rental space, or acquiring rental space to share so they could achieve economies of scale and save some money. Where is the status of that? Is that moving anywhere? Have they had any success with that?


MS. C. BENNETT: I guess the most appropriate answer for me to give you is that as the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and the Minister Responsible for Finance, I get to learn a lot about leases and spaces.


I've asked, and the deputies agreed, to take on – as I mentioned in the preamble – a responsibility of helping coordinate the possibility of a pilot of shared service spaces for some of these organizations, and the organizations are happy that we're looking at some type of pilot. It's in the very early stages right now, and certainly I'm happy to provide updates to both the Official Opposition Party and Members of the Third Party as soon as we have further clarity on that. It's something the deputy has taken responsibility and direction from me as the minister.


Certainly, we're very cognizant of the fact that we can have dollars that are going into community organizations, going into supporting people versus supporting multiple rents and multiple all kinds of fees that they have to pay someone.


MS. PERRY: Absolutely. Of course, the synergies they achieve from working together and sharing their staff resources. That would be great to see that happen.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Perry.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Chair.


Minister, just to ask this upfront with regard to the briefing books, may we expect to get your briefing books? Thank you very much, because that –


MS. C. BENNETT: We have those for everybody for tonight.


MS. MICHAEL: Good enough. That cuts down on how many notes we have to take, et cetera, as you know.


Thank you. I appreciate that.


MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, Ms. Michael, if I might. Donna can provide a written document of the information that she shared orally.




MS. C. BENNETT: We'll provide that in follow-up in the future.


MS. MICHAEL: Great. Thank you.


I don't repeat questions, but there are a couple of cases where I need to get some clarification because I may not have quite understood what you were saying. With regard to the positions, is there still a vacancy? I know one was long-term sick leave, but is there still a vacancy?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'll speak to that.


The manager that the deputy spoke to that would be responsible for work in the violence prevention area; that position had to be classified. In following up with HRS last week, the classification has concluded and that position will be posted. It is currently vacant, but it is our intention and has always been our intention to fill that position.




MS. C. BENNETT: We're eager to do so and look forward to getting that done as quickly as we can.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, great. So I was correct but it's in action.


Thank you very much.


With regard to the partner violence initiative, I know the deputy minister did give an amount but I didn't quite get it, the money that goes to the intimate partner violence initiative.


MS. BALLARD: All of the Professional Services budget.




MS. BALLARD: So that's the $233,000.




MS. BALLARD: And $175,000 of the Salaries budget and $15,000 of the Purchased Services budget.




That's all going to be in the briefing book, so if we can get that to keep those details.




MS. C. BENNETT: We'll make sure you have that information because I'm not sure it's identified the way that you're describing it.




MS. C. BENNETT: Ms. Ballard can provide some information to make sure you have that clarity.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you very much.


Then, I have a similar question to the Violence Prevention Initiative, the amount. Is that under Professional Services or is that under Grants and Subsidies?


MS. BALLARD: I'm looking at the departmental controller, sorry, who may be able to help me. It's my understanding it's included in all of the lines.


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, okay.


MS. C. BENNETT: Ms. Michael, last year we had a discussion around the Women's Policy Office funding. If you look historically at the dollars on a consolidated basis, overall basis for this office, there were some pretty significant swings in the last couple of years.


One of the decisions that we've made is to limit and restrict the efforts around mass marketing for violence prevention. Not because education is not important, but some of the dollars that were spent in the past we felt weren't necessarily the right focus.


We feel it's very important for the officials from the department to work very much with the community organizations. I would say that the work we've been able to do in the last year to get to a place where we can say things like Rigolet will be open 24 hours, seven days a week, is a result of that work and effort of engaging on the ground with community organizations.


The other thing with the Violence Prevention Initiative is the work that I mentioned in the preamble. Working with Justice on legislative pieces that may be appropriate for us to look at as a government is equally important. Certainly, having a deputy with Ms. Ballard's background in law also helps us. She's had very productive meetings with representatives of a variety of organizations including, as an example, the Federation of Labour, who have provided us some feedback on some legislative changes and regulatory changes they think might be appropriate.


We'll continue to look for ways of legislatively – and the community and through the educations system. We also presented information to the Premier's Task Force for the Violence Prevention Initiative of government and some suggestions for them to consider as part of the curriculum. The officials in the department did a lot of work last year on identifying what could be done to improve and add value, and also add results to the efforts of reducing violence in our community when we know we have significant challenges to deal with.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you, Minister, for that explanation. I mean, obviously, I totally agree with the way in which things are going because I think it has to be the way that you are describing, so the direct working with agencies, departments and community on the ground to really get change to happen.


I had many questions about the – in the past, it's not there now – whole stuff around the mass marketing because I don't think that's very effective. I'll be interested – it's probably too early for you to give a sense – to see how we will be able to evaluate on the ground how the new approach is working.


Certainly, having a place like in Rigolet – I've been to Rigolet many times and I know its history around violence, et cetera. To have a shelter there open seven days a week is so important, really important. I'm really glad to hear of this approach. I think it's very important.


I have some other questions here. With regard to the government departments – and this is not around violence, this is around gender-based analysis – what training has been done with departments around gender-based analysis?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'm going to let the deputy speak. She can also provide some texture as to things the department has undertaken in the last year in addition to training.


MS. BALLARD: There is gender-based analysis training. We adopt, on our website, the Status of Women Canada.




MS. BALLARD: And we've also gone out to departments and done training on the ground.


We're going to do more of it. That's, I guess, one of our to-do lists for this year. We do actually have a new analyst that's just recently joined us who we think will be very co-operative in that. So we've done that, but we continue to do it because we receive every Cabinet paper. We've done very well in the last year in making connections with departments so they know to call us first.


We also sit on a number of horizontal committees, for example, so that we're providing that advice. We continue to do that on a day-to-day basis and our collaborations with departments are increasing. We are finding now we're getting calls earlier than when the papers are done. I think that partnerships are developing very well.


MS. MICHAEL: Good. Thank you.


The Violence Prevention Initiative, is the prevalence survey finished?


MS. BALLARD: No, we're still working on that.


MS. MICHAEL: Still working on it. Okay.


With regard to training, again, under the Violence Prevention Initiative, which community organizations are you working directly with, with the training of community organizations?


MS. BALLARD: The VAAT, the Violence Awareness.




MS. BALLARD: We just actually very recently launched an up-to-date revised set of materials. We worked with our community partners, our regional coordinating councils, which are actually rebranding themselves as Violence Prevention Labrador according to their regions because they're coordinating and working together more.




MS. BALLARD: They're the trainers and then in their communities, they go out into the communities, seniors homes, high schools, College of the North Atlantic, wherever they find a need and deliver the training there.




Does that involve schools as well?






Are you directly involved with the restorative justice organization with regard to the project that's going on in schools?


MS. BALLARD: I mean we're certainly aware of the project. I know the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women is very much involved. We support that.


We also, as the minister indicated with the Premier's Task Force, submitted and we encouraged our partners to submit as well. Part of the submissions that we made is encouraging the restorative justice model.




I know that you're doing a lot of work with regard to gender equity and employment plans with employers. I think WRDC is probably working along with you in some of that.


Could we just have a bit of detail about how that's going? Are you getting new employers involved, et cetera? Does it involve smaller employers and not just the large ones? I think initially larger corporations were taking part. Is it also getting to smaller workplaces?


MS. BALLARD: Yeah, we're doing very well with that. Because of the benefits agreements, we are working with the big projects.




MS. BALLARD: We're very successful with the medium-to-small companies because under our Environmental Assessment Act, when there's a project of any kind and there's a requirement to come in under environmental assessment, we're very fortunate to have legislation that talks about economic and social development and benefits.


All of those environmental assessment requirements come to our office. When we look at those and find there's enough employment opportunity that a women's employment plan is required, then we require a women's employment plan.


Just recently this year as well, we partnered with the three other Atlantic provinces and we released a guide to gender diversity in the workplace.




MS. BALLARD: We have also provided a template so that when employers come and they don't know what to do, what does this look like? We're able to provide them with a guide and a template and support.


As the minister indicated in The Way Forward, we've also been successful in requiring women's employment plans on government-funded infrastructure projects. So we're working with Transportation and Works right now on that.




Thank you.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Sorry, Minister, did you have more to –?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, just on the infrastructure spending for the provincial government. That infrastructure plan is about $3.8 billion over five years, and certainly on some of the larger projects it was really important for us to make sure that what the expectations were of the private sector were being reflected from government's infrastructure spending as well. We'll continue to work to make sure that continues to happen.




Could I just ask one follow-up question to that?


CHAIR: Sure.


MS. MICHAEL: With regard to the new policy around procurement, I'm assuming this would be one of the principles that would be in play in not just going with the lowest bid.


MS. C. BENNETT: The regulations under the new procurement act are currently being drafted and finalized. As I mentioned in my preamble, Women's Policy Office is engaged in that process.




MS. C. BENNETT: I know Service NL has had a variety of meetings in addition to organizations that you've already mentioned.




MS. C. BENNETT: Other organizations like NLOWE would also have feedback and that is being provided, so that in the drafting of the regulations we can look to see what opportunities are there to continue to support gender equity.




Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Ms. Perry, any further questions?


MS. PERRY: I do. I have some, not too, too many.


According to the budget material, Budget 2017 commits $250,000 to establish the Sexual Assault Response Pilot Program. It's found under both Justice and WPO in the promotional material, but is this funding new or is it the $250,000 profile using resources already in the system, and where can we find it in the Estimates?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yeah. So that is not money that sits in the Women's Policy Office. That's money that the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice has been very successful in working with his federal counterparts to provide funding for that.


We can provide some clarity from the Department of Justice. I can follow up with them if you'd like, Ms. Perry, but my understanding is that's housed in Justice as an inflow from the federal government then an outflow into the community.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Is there any funding in this budget to advance women apprentices? In 2016-2017, there's a line item for $200,000. Is that somewhere in –?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yeah, I don't have that information in the Women's Policy Office budget. I would suggest that question is more appropriate for the Minister of Advanced Education.






MS. PERRY: Okay.


Believe it or not, I'm down to my last question.


Does the Women's Policy Office take summer students or work term students?


MS. BALLARD: Yes, we take all. We do take work term students. We just had a work term student finish up.


The summer, actually, I just reach out to the Law Society. We're hoping to get a first year law student this year to help us do some work around pay equity legislation and domestic violence legislation.


MS. PERRY: Okay.


Thanks so much.


CHAIR: Thank you very much, Ms. Perry.


Ms. Michael, any further questions?


MS. MICHAEL: No, I have no more questions. I have them but the answers are going to be in the briefing book so I'm not going to use up the time.


CHAIR: Sorry, Minister, concluding remarks?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'll let you do the vote and then I'll have a last comment.


CHAIR: Sorry, Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Just a general question. You mentioned earlier in regard to Rigolet and some much needed infrastructure. The federal government has referenced the fact that for First Nations and indigenous peoples there are different programs and funding identified across the country. Are there avenues here to leverage additional dollars for some of that programming that you've talked about?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes. I'll answer that in two parts and then I'll ask the deputy minister to add some comments.


The federal government has provided funding through Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corp for some of the transition shelters for capital construction. The funding that the federal government has for indigenous communities, some of the indigenous groups need some additional support from us, and the Women's Policy Office is providing that support to them so we can take advantage of those grants.


You can be assured that we're doing everything we can to make sure we get every cent we can from the federal government for the indigenous communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Ms. Ballard, do you want to add anything specific?


MS. BALLARD: No, nothing specific. We're hoping, actually – we're very hopeful that there is going to be some funding coming down very soon for some infrastructure in those communities.


MR. HUTCHINGS: The Newfoundland and Labrador Housing money is that 100-cent dollars or is it leverage money?


MS. C. BENNETT: In last year's federal budget there was an amount of money that was provided across the country related to transition facilities, and that money is in Housing to be disbursed amongst some of the houses in Newfoundland. The indigenous money is something separate from that.




MS. C. BENNETT: The Housing money, I think it came from CMHC, but the Status of Women federally championed that. The indigenous money comes from a different department.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


CHAIR: That's all, Mr. Hutchings?




CHAIR: Okay.


Any concluding remarks, Minister?


MS. C. BENNETT: Other than just to say a thank you again to the staff. The Women's Policy Office, I would suggest and I can proudly say, punch above their weight to some degree. They do a tremendous amount of work. They've accomplished a lot as a team in the last year under some pretty challenging circumstances in the context of the volume of work that we want to get done.


I'd like to congratulate Donna and her team back in the office for the work that they've done. I'm sure the Members of the Committee would join me in thanking them for their preparation for the Estimates tonight.


MS. PERRY: Absolutely, we do. You do very special work and heart wrenching in many cases, so hats off to you. Keep it up, great work.


CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: I also want to say a special thank you. It's really good, Minister, to see more money being put in to meet the needs of women in this province. I'm excited about the work that's happening.


As somebody who worked in this area for a number of years, it's good to hear some of the things that came out tonight, especially around women's employment in trades. That is something that's very close to my heart as I think you're probably aware. We've just got to keep forging ahead. Thank you very much.


I'm not surprised that the Women's Policy Office is punching above its weight and working so intensely because that's the nature of women's work unfortunately. We always have to be doing it.


Thank you.


CHAIR: Shall 2.8.01 carry?


All those in favour?




CHAIR: Against?




On motion, subhead 2.8.01 carried.


CLERK: 2.8.02.


CHAIR: Shall 2.8.02 carry?




MS. C. BENNETT: For the Members of the Committee, this is the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. I think Ms. Ballard had referenced already the grant for the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women when she listed the grants that we provide. This one has a stand-alone heading in the Estimates. It's consistent with the amount that has been spent in prior years.


I don't know if there are any questions.


CHAIR: Ms. Perry.


MS. PERRY: I already asked my questions sort of intermingled.


CHAIR: Excellent. Okay.


Ms. Michael, no?


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: No, I'm good.


CHAIR: Excellent.




Shall 2.8.02 carry?


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'




On motion, subhead 2.8.02 carried.


On motion, Women's Policy Office, total heads, carried.


CHAIR: Excellent. Thank you.


We'll take a short break, and when we come back we'll begin with the Human Resource Secretariat.




CHAIR: Okay, Human Resource Secretariat, 3.1.01.




MS. C. BENNETT: Thanks.


I'm going to turn the preamble, with the Committee's permission, over to the deputy. This particular department has undergone some significant changes in last year's budget and some that are reflected in this year's budget.


I think it's probably best to let the deputy provide a bit of an overview of that, as opposed to trying to find it as we go through. I'm sure you'll see it as we go through, but we do want to provide a little bit of oversight.


I'll let the officials introduce themselves and then I'll ask the deputy minister, Geoff Williams, to take over and provide you with some of the structural changes that have happened in the department.


CHAIR: Thank you, Minister.


Before you begin, I forgot to mention in the beginning just to identify yourself each time you speak for the Broadcast Centre. As you're all nodding in agreement, you're all very much aware.


MS. C. BENNETT: It's only the minister that doesn't know that.


CHAIR: Thank you very much.


MR. WILLIAMS: Geoff Williams, Deputy Minister.


MS. FOLLETT: Tina Follett, Assistant Deputy Minister, Compensation, Benefits and Staffing.


MR. JOYCE: George Joyce, Assistant Deputy Minister, Labour Relations.


MS. MUNDON: Tansy Mundon, Director of Communications.


MR. STANLEY: Todd Stanley, Special Counsel.


MS. TRICKETT: Wanda Trickett, Departmental Controller.


MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Minister, for the opportunity to review the structure and put a bit of context around the discussion this evening.


HRS started planning for restructuring in 2015. The first part of that restructuring commenced in 2016. The plan for restructuring for the Human Resource Secretariat was outlined to be a multi-year plan. It was going to cover '16-'17, '17-'18 and, as well, '18-'19. As I talk a little bit about it, it will become a bit clearer why it is a multi-year plan.


Our first change was in 2016 when we moved to changing the mandate for the Centre for Learning and Development. That mandate became one of focusing on compliance-based learning and legislatively required training, as well, with a significant emphasis on technology assistance to actually facilitate that training versus solely in-the-classroom-based training. 


With respect to the restructuring of the Human Resource Secretariat, you will note that there were three branches under the former structure. That has now changed to two branches. Tina and George have introduced themselves. They're respectively responsible for each one of the branches.


The change, by way of context, is a reduction of approximately 48 per cent senior managers within the Human Resource Secretariat and, as well, an overall reduction of 72 positions through that three year.


Now, in terms of my prior comment, in terms of why it was a multi-year approach, the order of magnitude of the change we are embarking on required a phased in transition kind of approach to ensure we were still are able to provide efficient effective services to the clients we represent.


You will note as we go through the material there are some new divisions within the Human Resource Secretariat that were previously not there. There are some changes in some that were there that are no longer. For example, there's been a new division created of Executive Client and Consulting Services. We can elaborate a bit on that as we go through. There is, as well, a dedicated division with respect to Employee Safety and Wellness. As well, there's a foundational component of a service centre with a multi-part layered approach to addressing employee and employer concerns.


As well, a change from last year to this year, French Services was previously housed with the Human Resource Secretariat. It is no longer with the Human Resource Secretariat, which is certainly not a function of the importance or relevance of that particular service; however, it was felt, from the restructured Human Resource Secretariat perspective, it was better aligned with the Service Newfoundland and Labrador. So that's why it's not in our structure. Those are some four changes right there that are easily to reflect on.


April 19 was the most recent change with respect to implementing the second part of our structure and that actually seen the reduction from three branches to two with the significant change in management structure as I just talked about.


I'd like to try and put some context around the Estimates that we have here in front of us, which will highlight some of the complexities that our controller has had to deal with and our financial folks.


We've essentially moved from nine activity centres to 12. So what that has actually required to be completed by the finance folks is prior to going forward with our budget this year, knowing that our structure was changing in a multi-faceted approach, our finance folks had to essentially look back and take the original budget that we were prescribed and say how do we now roll that over 12 activity centres versus nine. So essentially overlay that budget that was provided to us over the new structure, and as well the same exercise then with respect to the projected revised.


So one of the challenges that we faced in trying to present this in as clear and crisp manner is that given we moved from nine to 12 activity centres, that involved a movement of staff, it involved a movement of operating budgets so there was a very tedious process of trying to determine how much of each operating budget went to the new activity centres. In some cases that was very clear. In others it was a bit more of a challenge in terms of how we were able to do that. That was one of the challenges, I will note, in terms of moving forward.


Even an example of how staff were being assigned to new activity centres and new divisions, that required a best guest as to we knew the classification that would be in the new division, but not necessarily what step salary the incumbent would be at. So in terms of do we budget or move a salary over at a step 25 or is that step 2? So this is our best, and where we are now a new structure this is one of the challenges we've faced in terms of how we've actually captured the data.


With respect to we've noted a number of the changes in terms of dollar values and variances. We've noticed those as being attributable to zero-based budgeting. I think I just want to highlight that given this has been a multi-year approach to a transition of Human Resource Secretariat, there is a component there of zero-based budgeting, but there's also, from a savings perspective, the annualization of changes that were previously enacted to facilitate a new structure, which combined with the zero-based exercise. So as we go through we can address any questions that arise. We just wanted to note in terms of the presentation of the material.


MS. C. BENNETT: I'd ask Geoff just to clarify for a second when he gets a chance to get a glass of water. When he mentioned the consolidated change in management and the number of positions, I think you mentioned 48 per cent, was it, reduction in management?


MR. WILLIAMS: In senior management.


MS. C. BENNETT: In senior management, and that's over how many years?


MR. WILLIAMS: In terms of the change of managers, in large part that was in bulk imposed this particular year, Minister.


MS. C. BENNETT: Right.


So the Members of the Committee – and I'm sure you already have, I can imagine that you've already done this work. If you look to the total spend for the department you would see that it's down from $20,200,000 down to $17,900,000, a difference of $2.3 million, and that French Services would have moved out of this department as a whole.


I just wanted to point that out as a flag. I'm sure the Members of the Committee have already looked at that but I just wanted to call it out. So I turn it back to you, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Thank you, Minister.


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


If I could, I'd just ask Mr. Williams to provide some information here and put some context just to clarify. So the 48 senior management positions, are they out now, taken out this current year; or was it over a period of time, with the transition?


MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Hutchings, with respect to the change, it was 48 per cent, just to clarify, not 48 positions –


MR. HUTCHINGS: Oh, percent; I am sorry.


MR. WILLIAMS: Forty-eight per cent, sorry, just to clarify that.




So 48 per cent of the senior management have been transferred out somewhere else or the positions have been eliminated; I just need to understand.


MR. WILLIAMS: In large part, the positions have been eliminated.




MR. WILLIAMS: In some cases, we re-profiled a small number of those, so we changed them from directors to managers. But, for the most part, those positions have been abolished from the organization.


MR. HUTCHINGS: And from a reorganization point of view that 48 per cent is done pretty well, is it?


MR. WILLIAMS: That would be correct.




You mentioned classifications. Obviously, as you just said, in terms of moving some of those positions around, they would require reclassification as well. So that's done as well; is that correct?


MR. WILLIAMS: In large part, yes, that's correct.




So 48 per cent and you also used the number 72 – was that 72 positions? What was the 72 again?


MR. WILLIAMS: That is the 72 positions that have been eliminated from the HRS structure that will be eliminated at the point of conclusion. As I mentioned, next year that will be the final phase.




Is there a connection between the 48 per cent and the 72? Is the 48 per cent 72 positions or …?


MR. WILLIAMS: Of the 72 positions being eliminated, the 48 per cent represents the actual change in senior management level positions of the 72.




The 72 would have both senior level and others as well?


MR. WILLIAMS: That would be correct.




MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, if I might, I'd remind the Members of the Committee that last year when we were in Estimates we had discussions around some of the decisions that were made in last year's budget that would have impacted the department. Some of those decisions were based on operational improvements and operational efficiency, and that's one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure that the assistant deputy team was here tonight to provide some texture as to what those operational changes were.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Sure, thanks.


Minister, you indicated in regard to the total at the end there was a $2.3 million less. Is that all related to French Services coming out? No?


MS. C. BENNETT: No, I don't have the information with me right here. I'm not sure if Wanda has, but I don't have the information on French Services. That $2.3 million comparison from last year to this year you'd also have to take out the French Services which moved out of the department altogether. As Members of the House would know, Minister Trimper is the minister responsible for Service NL and he's the minister responsible for French Services, so it made sense for him to have that close to him for proper oversight.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


I know last year – and I mentioned this earlier in the prior session – you talked about 650 FTEs and 200 were in core public service. Some of the numbers we're talking about here, would they be factored in as FTEs in that 200 number from last year?


MS. C. BENNETT: From last year? Some of those would be.


Geoff, do you want to speak to that?


Mr. Hutchings, just for clarity, the document I would have shared with you earlier this week, which was the reconciliation of that –




MS. C. BENNETT: – would have had numbers on there that would have reflected the actions that the department would have taken in last fiscal year.


MR. HUTCHINGS: It may include some of these.


MS. C. BENNETT: May include some of those.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


If we could, I'll just go to some line items here to begin. At 3.1.01, if you look at the salary change, there was an initial estimate last year, it rose to a revision and this year there's a considerable reduction in that. I'm just wondering if you could give some commentary on that.


MS. C. BENNETT: That would have reflected the savings that would have been identified through the zero-based budgeting process which was part of the – one of the items that Mr. Williams mentioned was the restructuring.




MS. C. BENNETT: That would have been the shifting in the Salaries that would have been saved.




MS. C. BENNETT: Do you want to add anything, Geoff?


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yeah, so basically what you're telling me is the reorganization from nine to 12, was it, we went?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yeah, so just maybe just in paraphrasing what the deputy has already said, we went from nine divisions to 12 at the same time as we shrunk the overall spend. The numbers in each line item, particularly around Salaries, as individuals were changed and moved, or if an ADM position was eliminated, things like that, they would be reflected in this. It's going to be hard to track identically the last year.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yeah. Sure.


MS. C. BENNETT: And that's one of the reasons why I want to make sure that the deputy had a chance to kind of describe the structure of the department, because it's changed significantly from what it was two years ago.




I'll just ask this question I have here and you've probably answered it already, but I'll just ask it. If you go back and look at last year's Estimates, the number that was used then for the estimate I think – say for example, Salaries was $790,300, this year that estimate is $812,600. So that would be due to the revision, I guess, of Salaries moving back and forth?


MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, I'm not following. Are you still at 3.1 –?


MR. HUTCHINGS: At 3.1.01, Salaries.




MR. HUTCHINGS: If you looked at the budget document from 2016 under Salaries, it would have gave an estimate of $790,300. If you look at the 2016-2017 document this year and budget, it says $812,600, so there's a difference in the two. The estimate has been changed from what was last year to what's put in this year, but I guess that's reorganization of Salaries and those types of things?


MS. C. BENNETT: Sorry, before I provide an answer I just want to make sure I clearly understand. The restated original budget for '16-'17 of $812,000, Wanda, do you want to speak to it?


MS. TRICKETT: Yes, you are correct. The difference is last year in the 2016-'17 Estimates book it states what the original budget was intended to be.




MS. TRICKETT: And what you're seeing this year at $812,600 is reflective of the restatement of the reorganization.


MR. HUTCHINGS: During the year, right.




MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. We'll see that from time to time as we go through?


MS. TRICKETT: You will see that a lot, yes.


MR. HUTCHINGS: I guess instead of asking it all the way through, it's just that it is reorganization of the envelope from what you've done in restructuring.


MS. TRICKETT: Correct.




That's all I have on 3.1.01.


CHAIR: Thank you, Mr. Hutchings.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: I'm sorry, I was being distracted here.


I really don't want to go through every single salary head and ask questions about it because of what you've described. We know that 72 positions are eliminated, so all the differences there that we see are the reflection of the reorganizing and the loss of the position. There's no sense going through every single head and asking because it seems to me you've got different positions, different names, et cetera. Is that correct?




MS. MICHAEL: That's accurate?


MS. C. BENNETT: Absolutely. As the controller just mentioned, the restated original budgets were to take last year's –


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, I understand restatement of the budget, yeah. I understand that you can't go back and look because it's going to be restated.




MS. MICHAEL: That's not a problem for me at all.




MS. MICHAEL: With regard to the 72 eliminated positions, I'm assuming that there were individuals in those positions. How many actual people are no longer working in the system because of the loss of the 72 positions?


MR. WILLIAMS: Ms. Michael, in terms of that, I can get you that specific information. We still have a couple left to do.




MR. WILLIAMS: I can certainly get you the information to date of which ones have vacancies and which ones had incumbents in it. I can certainly do that.




Thank you very much.


MS. C. BENNETT: Ms. Michael, I'm not sure, I don't remember the other day; I shared some information with Mr. Hutchings around the FTEs from last year based on a question that he had asked. I don't think – I'm assuming it would have been tabled but I don't know if you've received it.


We'll provide you with that information as well because it reflects the information we shared in the budget last year about the FTE impacts. So we'll give you that same information.


MS. MICHAEL: If that's the information you tabled based on his questions, yes, we have all that information.




MS. MICHAEL: Yeah. Thank you very much.


With regard again to the 72 positions and in terms of elimination and vacancies, are there any – I'm just doing it across the board now because it just seems to be the better way to do it. Are there any vacancies right now that aren't filled?


MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, there would be some vacancies. A minimum number, though, that are not filled. We're certainly intently trying to fill those, given our reduced structure and size.


MS. MICHAEL: Right. Thank you very much.


Okay, so let's move on then. Coming down to 3.1.02, I'm just going to pick on numbers that are significant. Under Professional Services, the budget is $171,600 and it was underspent by $27,000 approximately. Then it's going down again this year. What was the change in the Professional Services for this loss of money in that line?


MS. C. BENNETT: Ms. Michael, I just want to confirm that we're on the same number.


MS. MICHAEL: 3.1.02.


MS. C. BENNETT: And your question is related to the changes in Professional Services?


MS. MICHAEL: Professional Services, yes.


MS. C. BENNETT: The Professional Services change and the projected revised reflects an overrun from the '16-'17 budget due to higher than anticipated investigations.




MS. C. BENNETT: And the $28,300, which is the difference in the Professional Services budget for '17-'18, reflects a decrease in the budget as identified under the zero-based budgeting.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. So it's not that any services that are needed are going to be lost because of this.


Thank you very much.


And you're correct, I said it was under by $27,100 but it was over by $27,100.


MS. C. BENNETT: Right.


MS. MICHAEL: So that's why I confused you, I think.


With regard to the Purchased Services, here we do see a big jump upwards in the Estimates for this year in relation to the estimate in the budget for last year, so $68,800 more. What do you see happening under Purchased Services?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yeah. When the department would have undergone zero-based budgeting, if there were items that were identified – and certainly in this department's case with the significant reorg, if there were items that were not identified as being allocated to a certain line item, it would have increased the budget. In this case, that's what happened with this particular number, $68,000. It was identified that these were expenses in zero-based budgeting when we looked at it that should have been allocated to this particular heading.


MS. MICHAEL: Oh, got it. Okay. Thank you.


Coming down to – a lot of my questioning was going to be about the Salaries, but I don't have to do that now. I'm not going to question small amounts, but under 3.1.03, the Purchased Services, there's a drop in the Purchased Services there. Is that because of zero-based budgeting? It's a drop of $2,500.


MS. C. BENNETT: Okay. Yes, that would have been zero-based budgeting.


Geoff, did you want to add anything?


MR. WILLIAMS: No, that's correct.




MS. MICHAEL: Yeah, okay. Thank you very much.


Coming over, then, to 3.1.05.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Mr. Chair, I'm wondering as we go through if we could maybe do the pages. It's much easier to do (inaudible).


MS. MICHAEL: Pardon?


MR. HUTCHINGS: I'm just wondering as we go through and do two subheadings on each page and maybe approve that (inaudible).


MS. MICHAEL: Sure. Okay.


MR. HUTCHINGS: It's just tough going back and forth.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. It's fine with me, Mr. Chair, if that's what we want to do.


CHAIR: It certainly makes sense, I guess. Again, my first time, please bear with me here as Chair.


Typically, my understanding was by subhead. So for 3.1 we wouldn't vote until we got to 3.2.


MR. HUTCHINGS: (Inaudible) to follow. If you go ahead two or three subheadings, then you have to come back.


CHAIR: Sure.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So it's just much easier.


CHAIR: No, for ease of the process and staff and everyone following.


MR. HUTCHINGS: I just have one question on 3.1.02, Lorraine, if that's okay.


MS. MICHAEL: That's fine. Why don't I stop and you go up to 3.2 up to 04.






CHAIR: Okay, excellent.


MR. HUTCHINGS: 3.1.02, Employee Relations, the Professional Services there, is that related to negotiations, that heading, or would that be under another heading in terms of public service or hiring resources for that or outside resources?








MR. HUTCHINGS: That's just related to arbitration, mediation, investigation, those types of activities.


MR. WILLIAMS: That would be correct.




I think I'm fine with that.


CHAIR: That's all for you for 3.1.02?




CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: I have another question with regard to 3.1.04. Can I go on to that?


CHAIR: If we'll move on, then that's fine. So we'll do 3.1.03 to 3.1.04 inclusive.




CHAIR: There you are, Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: My question has to do with the job evaluations, the JES reviews. I think in May last year there were 730 that were outstanding. What is the status now of the job reviews?


MR. JOYCE: You're talking about the JES?




MR. JOYCE: JES classification outstanding is 472.




How long is it estimated that this list can be brought down even more?


MR. JOYCE: Ms. Michael, we're working very diligently on those on a daily basis, bearing in mind the staff we have. We're trying to turn them over within a three-month period as a rotation. The direct result of the JES that was implemented last year, we see a reduction now, a decrease in the number that's coming in under the JES. So we're trying to deal with the ones we have on the books right now.


MS. MICHAEL: May I ask, Minister, are these reviews identified within departments or identified by HR Secretariat?


MR. WILLIAMS: To add to what Mr. Joyce just indicated there, in terms of the JES process with respect to those reviews, we are – further to George's comments, Mr. Joyce's comments – attempting to streamline how we do that. The documentation involved in a review, as a minimal it's a very lengthy document, probably 50-plus pages of documentation which is a very manual, tedious exercise to review it.


In order to get that timeline down in terms of completing a review, we are working through and trying to work through some additional lean concepts to see if we can shave that time off, recognizing that the impact on an individual waiting for a review could be significant from stress on the individual in the workplace. So we are moving forward with that, trying to see as best we can to scale down the process to see how we can do it.


I'm sorry, Ms. Michael, I didn't understand quite the last question you had with respect to the reviews, the HRS. Sorry.


MS. MICHAEL: The reviews that have to be done, are they identified within a department and passed to you or are you the ones who are identifying reviews that need to be done?


MR. WILLIAMS: There can be a number of ways a review would be done. It could be submitted through a department and an employee to Human Resource Secretariat. The numbers that Mr. Joyce indicated, those are ones actually in the possession of Human Resource Secretariat and are actively being worked on. That would be the process that would be followed. It's initiated either by the employee or by the supervisor or manager who may feel there's a need for a review to occur.


As I say, that's the number; those are the ones we have within our possession and actively working on.


MS. MICHAEL: One more question: About how many come in over a year?


MR. WILLIAMS: George, do you have any stats?


MR. JOYCE: I can say that approximately 70 per cent of the requests for JES – or 70 per cent of the 472 were the result of JES.




MR. JOYCE: Would that answer your question?


MS. MICHAEL: I'm just wondering on a yearly basis how many new ones come in.


MR. JOYCE: I can't directly answer that question but I can get that information for you in terms of on an annual basis. Is that fair?


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, thank you very much.


Okay, Chair, I'll turn it over to Mr. Hutchings now.


CHAIR: That's all for you on 3.1.03 to 3.1.04.


Mr. Hutchings. 


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


3.1.03, the salary provision there on that one from what was budgeted last year, the revision was down and then it was down again for the estimate for this year, '17-'18.


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, the decrease in the projected revised budget reflects a savings due to a vacancy. It's just over $19,000.




MS. C. BENNETT: In the '17-'18 number, that reflects a decrease as identified under zero-based budgeting. And again, any salary savings that would have been driven from the restructuring, et cetera, would have been either allocated to annualization of last year's initiatives or zero-based budgeting and that's what you're seeing here.




3.1.04, in the Salaries again there's a little over $400,000. Is that related to specific job reductions and the numbers we talked about earlier?


MS. C. BENNETT: Do you want to take that one?

MR. WILLIAMS: It is related to job reductions in the sense that was specifically a component of money that was set aside to assist with the job of cleaning up or making some end roads on the reviews associated with the Job Evaluation System.




MR. WILLIAMS: So that was one-time money which had been allocated to assist with that particular project.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Just on that note, I know last year in Estimates we asked for an update, and I think there were 730 that were left at that point in time. And I think the commentary was by the end of 2016, the last quarter, we should be okay, but I think the update now is that there are 472 that are left.


You're indicating that special funding that was put in place last year to deal with those has now been removed, so I'm just wondering, going forward, how we're going to meet the objective and deal with these. It seems from last year, the plan respectively hasn't met its target so how are we going to deal with what's left there on the books?


MS. C. BENNETT: Just for clarity, I think the assistant deputy minister mentioned that of the 400 plus that are remaining, only about 70 per cent of them are related to JES.




MS. C. BENNETT: As the deputy minister has already indicated there is ongoing work from last year to this year to review the process and try to streamline through the administrative functions.


I had the opportunity last year, when I became minister, to tour the unit that was doing this work and had extensive conversations with the employees that were working there at that time on the process they were using. The department undertook in the last 12 or 18 months a continuous improvement effort to try to lean the process so that it would provide us the ability to do the last portion of the JES faster than the first series were done when the JES was originally brought in.


We're optimistic that, based on what we've learned in the last year, we'll continue to be able to work through these in a timely way, respecting the fact that employees are certainly owed and expect an answer as quickly as possible. We intend to do what we can to get those answers to them.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So roughly it would be about 350 JES that are left, that's 70 per cent?




MR. HUTCHINGS: So the new process, or some of, I guess, the efficiencies that you identified that you could do, are they in place now and you're working through those?


MS. C. BENNETT: And continuing to improve. If there's a process that's identified by officials in the department that will help speed things up, they'll continue to look at that.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


That's good for me on 3.1.04.


CHAIR: Okay.


As we agreed, I guess, to go a page at a time, I'll call the vote from 3.1.01 to 3.1.04 inclusive.


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: Against?




On motion, subheads 3.1.01 through 3.1.04 carried.


CHAIR: Okay, 3.1.05.


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


CHAIR: Oh, sorry, 3.1.05 through 3.1.06.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


Just on the Salaries one again, there's a reduction of approximately $546,000 compared to 2016-2017. Again, could you give some feedback on whether that's related to specific job reductions we may have spoken on earlier?


MR. WILLIAMS: In terms of that reduction, it's a combination of a couple of things. It's a combination of the reorganization within the Human Resource Secretariat which is a commentary which would have applied to other changes that have occurred, and as well, it is a reflection of the new revised mandate of the CLD which does involve some position eliminations. Some of those 72 are captured here within the Centre for Learning and Development as well.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So this would be one of the headings that in your original commentary you talked about that was being restructured and technology was being used to advance. Is this the one?


MR. WILLIAMS: It is the same division, but indeed, yes, we are using more of a technology based.




MR. WILLIAMS: And the focus is more so on the compliance-based, legislated required training.




So the shortfall in Salaries, you believe you can continue to provide a high level of service based on the attachment of technology and the use of that, so we're not losing the service I guess. You still maintain the service even though you have less salary through technology. Would that be fair to say?


MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, technology is a significant component of it and, as well, we are very focused on the training we're actually providing. So our training is more focused on the compliance and legislative based, and technology is the other key component, yes.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


Under that same heading, 3.1.05, under Professional Services, we've seen a significant budget increase there from the estimate was, what the revision was, everything was used and now a significant increase this year in terms of $360,000. I was just wondering if you could give me some details on that.




MR. WILLIAMS: In terms of the changes there, there are really two components of that Professional Services increase. One is instead of producing in-house some of the e-learning modules, we are going to have those provided to us, as opposed producing them in-house, and that will be consistent with our greater focus on technology-based training. So that would be one component of the increase with respect to the Professional Services.


The other component of the increase would be attributable to a change management function, ensuring we are prepared as an organization for the change management, given the order of change that's occurring within the Human Resource Secretariat.




MR. WILLIAMS: So that's the two components that are made up there. And more specifically, with respect to the e-learning modules, we're anticipating perhaps anywhere the need from eight to 10 of those to be produced this year to facilitate the training requirements of the public service.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So the providers of those e-learning modules, would they be an outside contractor or consultant?


MR. WILLIAMS: That would be outside resource, correct.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So have they been already identified who that would be?


MR. WILLIAMS: With respect to whether they're already identified, I don't think they've already been identified per se, and I could get you information. There are certain ones – obviously, folks who have an expertise in that area, but there is more –


MR. HUTCHINGS: Desire2Learn is one that comes to mind. They're involved with a number of agencies.






And the second component would be, for the change management point of view, the same sort of thing; you would contract out those services for someone to provide that assistance to you.


MR. WILLIAMS: In large part, yes.




MS. C. BENNETT: If I might add, I wanted to make sure that the Committee wasn't left with the impression that this is an ongoing purchase of e-learning on an annual basis. This provides us the opportunity to do the one-time purchasing of the modules that they would need to provide the critical training. So it's one time.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Sure. They would create the modules and you would take them and use them as –


MS. C. BENNETT: Or the modules may already be created depending on what the topic is and we'd purchase the module and be able to use it. Not necessarily would it lead into purchasing the same module on an annual basis. You'd only purchase a module once you needed it. You'd use it until it was irrelevant and then you'd have to purchase another one.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yes, so in some cases it would be a one-time spend, really.


MS. C. BENNETT: Right.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Right. Okay, thank you.


There's just some reference here to 3.1.05 in regard to federal-provincial revenue. Could you just give me an understanding of what that would be, both of those?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, most of that's related to French language training and the contracts for French language training.




And you would provide it to federal agencies and provincial and you would bill it back? How does that work?


MR. WILLIAMS: With respect, that is correct. It could be both entities. For example, health care in terms of self-paced French language training that would be billed, and the same thing, federal government agencies, that's where the revenue would come from there.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


3.1.06, Organizational Development Initiative, just if you could give me some commentary on Salaries there from what was budgeted last year, almost less than half was spent, and then this year the envelope has been readjusted as well.


MR. WILLIAMS: With respect to the Organizational Development Initiative, this is money allocated for salaries not for individuals assigned to this particular division, but this is money that can be availed of through government departments to assist with developmental opportunities or increasing knowledge base of staff. This is money that's allocated for departments to avail of to hire or engage people. There's not a salary – there's no staff assigned to this, for example; this is money that's available for departments to use.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Like in-house training, something (inaudible).


MR. WILLIAMS: In-house training, or a typical example we'd see is that a department may have a need for an additional financial resource and they may not have a position available but they may seek a developmental opportunity. They may say, look, for six months, we'd like to have somebody come work with us on a financial management project and this will be where they could avail of funding to assist them with that process.




My last question on 3.1.06 is: Purchased Services, we seen what was budgeted last year wasn't used and then the estimate for this year is down from last year's estimate. Just give me some understanding of that; that was Purchased Services.


MR. WILLIAMS: With respect to the Purchased Services here, two points, Mr. Hutchings; one, with respect to the first part of your question dealing with the reduced spending from the original budget that would have been with respect to training that had been identified by departments. However, for operational reasons or other reasons, it couldn't be facilitated, so that would explain the less-than-anticipated spending there.




MR. WILLIAMS: And I'm sorry, did you have a second component to that question?


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yeah, the restatement for this year based on last year is significantly lower; it's $987,000. I'm just wondering is that zero-based budgeting or just reassessing what you actually need.


MS. C. BENNETT: With the lower uptake last year, a decision would have been made to reduce to more accurately reflect what the uptake had been.




That's good for me, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Thank you very much, Mr. Hutchings.


Ms. Michael, 3.1.05 through 3.1.06.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.


Mr. Hutchings has covered all the questions I have, except one. That has to do with the French language training. There have been concerns that have been brought to me and there was one that I actually had to bring into the House of Assembly. I did work with Minister Trimper a bit on that.


I guess my first question is, so I'll get a good handle of what is happening, how much of the French language training is now dependent on the module model with a student with a computer, and how much is still face-to-face training?


MR. WILLIAMS: With respect to that question, in terms of the percentage, I don't feel comfortable now identifying the percentage but certainly that's a piece of information I can get back to you on, the actual percentage that is. Essentially you're looking for a distinction between classroom based versus module based with a self-paced learning module.




MR. WILLIAMS: Certainly, I can identify that for you.


MS. MICHAEL: Well, I think I'd also like some information on what exactly is included in the module model. I speak French, I taught French, I know what it is to learn a second language and I have real concerns. One of the most important things is the classroom base from the perspective of the communication and learning to communicate freely and fluently.


So it would be interesting for me to know what's actually involved in the modules because there can be some things that can be done that way, but I wouldn't want to see somebody dependent only on modules, student based with a module. I think there has to be more than that. So I really would like a real understanding of what is happening to the French language training. I have real concerns about it.


And the case that was brought to me – and I guess this is all under your department – specifically was a nurse from the Health Sciences who really needs it. She actually gets called upon because she's one of the few who has been studying French and sometimes she is in one part of the hospital and gets called to another part. Yet when she applied for her training this year, she was told no, tough luck; you're going to have to wait. Even though it's not written in her job description, there's an expectation. I don't why it happened so quickly but after this all became public, she did get word there was space and she's in a classroom now, which is good.


But I think there needs to be real evaluation of why somebody is looking for the French language training, how much of it is absolutely essential to the person. There are some cases, like our director of communications did extremely well in doing that and she actually has done the testing, examinations and she's considered now under the French language international qualifications to be bilingual. It's great that she can speak French, but it's not essential. It is really good that communication people can deal with Radio-Canada and not just with CBC, et cetera.


In the case of the nurse I'm talking about, that has become an essential part of her work. So I'm concerned about how the decisions are getting made, or in the future will be getting made.


MS. C. BENNETT: As Mr. Williams has said, he can certainly provide an overview of the current program, its structure and how it's delivered.


With regard to the specific example that you mentioned in Health, I'll certainly speak to the Minister of Health because they're having conversations about recognizing that a French need could happen anywhere, anytime, in any place in our hospital system and that there may be a way to use technology for electronic translation of files. It doesn't solve the patient concern, but it certainly should be able to expedite communication, particularly around medical files. It's something he spoke to me recently about, and we can certainly continue to provide the Member opposite with some information.


Mr. Williams will get back to you, or somebody from the department will get back to you with the curriculum layout and we'll certainly give you those answers.


MS. MICHAEL: Could I make one more point, Minister?


MS. C. BENNETT: Absolutely.


MS. MICHAEL: I think there's much more to it than just the medical files being translated. The province I think is in a contractual situation with the Saint Pierre and Miquelon government, for example. I think if they're going to continue having patients come here, they need to know that somebody who's in a bed and can't speak a word of English is being taken care of, and translation of files is not doing that.


MS. C. BENNETT: No, and if I replay the answer I gave you, I said that that was one of the components that would help.


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, I heard that.


MS. C. BENNETT: Certainly not the only one, and I think I referenced bedside and patient communications as being a critical element, but certainly those challenges in health care are something that Health would continue to be reviewing and looking at. What we'll provide is the Centre for Learning's curriculum as per your request and provide you some visibility into how that program is being delivered.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


That's all I have for that page.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Shall 3.1.05 through 3.1.06 carry?


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'




On motion, subheads 3.1.05 through 3.1.06 carried.


CHAIR: 3.1.07 through 3.1.08 inclusive.


Ms. Michael.




Not a lot here. Under 3.1.07, Employee Benefits, last year there was an overspend of $34,500. Can we have an explanation of that, please?


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, it's related to higher than anticipated Workers' Compensation costs.




I'm assuming Employee Benefits here is similar to other Employee Benefits line, again, somebody going to a conference, that kind of thing?




MS. MICHAEL: Yes, okay.


Thank you very much.


I don't have anything else under that one. That's 3.1.07.


In 3.1.08, I don't have anything significant there either. You are dropping down, though, from the budget last year, $33,000 down to $27,000. It's only $6,000, but was that just zero-based budgeting?


MR. WILLIAMS: That is correct.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


Under the explanation of what happens in this division or section, I'm not sure what the right term is: “Appropriations provide for the management and direction of highly confidential and sensitive human resource management (HRM) issues requiring attention at the most senior levels across client organizations.” So there's a reference to client organizations and unique client needs. Who exactly are the clients who are being served here?


MS. FOLLETT: Ms. Michael, this particular division has been established in order to respond to the needs of our executive clientele throughout the public service. So effectively, when we restructured, we took a lot of duplication out of our structure and we had built upon a number of surveys and research that we had conducted. We had conducted a client-needs survey, and in that survey our executive clientele had advised us that they had a need for personal and easy access to our services.


The nature of the type of issues that are addressed through this division involve some of the higher complexity or escalated issues, which would involve things like particular investigations. Certainly, the recent example of the Flatter, Leaner Management initiative is also another example of the type of work that these individuals would do.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. And this would include executive level, both in departments, statutory offices and agencies of government?


MS. FOLLETT: It's primarily for the executive group of our core government departments but there are some agencies that are tied in there if they are aligned with particular departments, yes.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay. Thank you.


That's all I have for those two sections.


CHAIR: Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Minister, section 3.1.07, in the preamble there and some of the information given: Would that be one of the new headings?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'm sorry, I was turning the page and I didn't hear the Member opposite. Sorry.


MR. HUTCHINGS: No problem.


3.1.07, Employee Safety and Wellness.




MR. HUTCHINGS: Would that be a new division in the restructuring that has come about?


MR. WILLIAMS: Yes, it is.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So, if I remember correctly, in the past a health and safety issue and case management of injured workers, and Occupational Health and Safety, that may have been done individually in departments. Is there a change in that now? Is that all under this heading here, under the Secretariat?


MR. WILLIAMS: In terms of the overall governance function of occupational health and safety, yes, it would fall within this department, within this division; however, there are still departments with resources in-house that will be facilitating on the ground such things as risk assessments, some things – this division doesn't have a staff which is working in every department doing a risk assessment or hazard assessment. This group will be providing assistance and expertise as to how you would in the department conduct a risk assessment, for example.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. They provide some oversight in what's happening in the department.


MR. WILLIAMS: They provide some oversight, and I think it would be fair to say that they might take a department through maybe the first one or two assessments.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Sure. The expertise would lie here.


MR. WILLIAMS: Exactly, correct.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. Thank you.


Okay, I'm good.


CHAIR: Excellent.


Shall 3.1.07 through 3.1.08 carry?


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'




On motion, subheads 3.1.07 through 3.1.08 carried.


CHAIR: 3.1.09 through 3.1.10.


Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you.


3.1.09, Service Centre and Corporate Services Delivery; Professional Services, there's a small increase there from last year, what was revised, and this year Professional Services has gone up to $55,000. I wonder if you could just give me some details on that.


MS. C. BENNETT: Yes, this is related to new funding approved in Budget 2017 associated with the group insurance plan and it'll be recovered through revenue. So it's net zero when it's netted against revenue.


MR. HUTCHINGS: And the revenue would come from where?


MS. C. BENNETT: If you look down at the $250,000 on the bottom, you'll see that's going to be recovered from Professional Services related to the group insurance plan.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay. What kind of professional services would they be? What would that exactly be?


MS. C. BENNETT: I'm assuming it's the group insurance team.


OFFICIAL: Yes, it is, yeah.


MS. C. BENNETT: The group insurance team is doing some work. It will be recovered from that particular team that manages the group insurance.




MS. C. BENNETT: I'm going to let the deputy provide extra colour, seeing that it is 8:33 at night and I want to make sure Mr. Hutchings gets the precise answer, a little bit more precisely then I just gave.


Mr. Williams.


MR. HUTCHINGS: A lot of pressure.


MR. WILLIAMS: This will be consulting services where the group may need to engage a consultant to help them determine industry trends on a particular renewal or particular issue or they'll be asking some consultants to provide some assistance in looking at industry trends among other factors.




MS. C. BENNETT: Geoff, can you add where the revenue comes from then? It comes from the –


MR. WILLIAMS: (Inaudible.)


MS. C. BENNETT: Do you want to add it?




MS. C. BENNETT: I think I know.


MS. TRICKETT: The services, if we engage with a consultant as the deputy had alluded to, would be recovered through the group insurance plan.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So you would charge it back to the group insurance and they'd reimburse it.


MS. TRICKETT: Correct, yes.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Perfect, okay.


Where the Public Service Pension Plan is now an outside corporation; is there any effect on this here? Has there been any effect on this function here? No. It's two different – separate.


MS. C. BENNETT: No, it's two different things.




3.1.10, Payroll and Benefits, we see in Salaries there was a significant increase from last year, what was budgeted to what the revision was. Could we just get some understanding of that?


MS. C. BENNETT: That would have been due to severance and related benefits combined with an overall budget shortage in this particular account.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, and that I assume was related to the restructuring and some of the positions and percentages we talked about when we started, right?




MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, and it's gone back down again.


That's good for me, Mr. Chair.


CHAIR: Thank you, Mr. Hutchings.


Ms. Michael, 3.1.09 and 3.1.10.


MS. MICHAEL: Yes, I guess I just have a general question. You identified these as two of the new, sort of, divisions of the 12. So where was this work done before in the old structure?


MS. FOLLETT: Ms. Michael, previously, we had a number of Strategic Human Resource Management units. What we found – and again in applying concepts of Lean and some of the investigation that we conducted – is that there was a lot of duplication in having the SHRM units, as they're called, in place at the time. So, effectively, we were conducting a process but we always had a middle piece to the flow of the piece of work. So it was causing interruption and a number of different handoffs, so it was causing a lot of duplication, as I said, and a particular waste, we felt, of the resources that we had.


So some of this work was being conducted through the SHRM units. The work in those particular units has now been smoothed out across our broader organization and we've become more functionally aligned. You'll see that a number of our consultant rolls, for example, in the SHRM units have been aligned now within this particular service centre. They're been some aligned within the Executive Client and Consulting Services division I just spoke of earlier and there are also some that are currently aligned within the Staffing division. There are a few also mixed in with some of the other divisions such as Employee Safety and Wellness.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


This is just a curiosity. Did you have to do physical changing inside of the department because of all these new divisions?


MS. FOLLETT: Yes, we do. We had to do some physical rearrangements and we found that the closer the proximity, the easier the work is flowing for us, yes.


MS. MICHAEL: Great, okay.


That's all I have.


CHAIR: Great.


Thank you, Ms. Michael.


Anything further, Mr. Hutchings?


3.1.09 through 3.1.10.


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'




On motion, subheads 3.1.09 through 3.1.10 carried.


CHAIR: The final section, 3.1.11 through 3.1.12.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much.


I really didn't have any questions on 3.1.11.


With regard to 3.1.12, is Opening Doors on its own in this division or is it managed by Strategic Staffing?


MS. FOLLETT: Yes, Ms. Michael, it has its own budget allocation as such, but it has been consolidated within Staffing because a significant portion of what that program does is centered around staffing activities.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, understood.


I wonder could we have an update of how many people are working under the program now. Do you have that number?


MS. FOLLETT: We have 82 positions that are funded through what is called our Opening Doors program.




MS. FOLLETT: We currently have, I believe it's approximately five vacancies. There are other vacancies; there are another five vacancies there but they're backfilled, if you will, temporarily with registrants from the program. So we have about five vacancies there currently and they are currently going through the competition process as well.


MS. MICHAEL: Okay, thank you very much.


I don't think I have any other questions. No, I think that's it.


Thank you.


CHAIR: Thank you very much, Ms. Michael.


Mr. Hutchings, 3.1.11 through 3.1.12.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


I wonder if I could ask on 3.1.11, Salaries, there was a slight increase from what was budgeted and then this year again the estimate has been readjusted as opposed to last year.




You can take this. It's the same answer as before.


MR. WILLIAMS: In terms of, did you say a slight increase in what was budgeted from –?


MR. HUTCHINGS: Oh, I'm sorry, no.


MR. WILLIAMS: I think it was –


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yes, pretty close.


MR. WILLIAMS: It was pretty close on.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yeah, and then it was slightly reduced in this year's in the estimate.


MR. WILLIAMS: Right. And that would reflect the zero-based exercise and the restructuring of HRS.


MR. HUTCHINGS: So that wouldn't be probably a position, I guess, it would just be –


MR. WILLIAMS: The Salaries component?


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yeah, would that reduction, would that be a position or would it be just – what would it reflect?


MS. C. BENNETT: My understanding – and I could be wrong – is that the salary reduction is related to last year's initiatives that were now annualized and that's what you're seeing in here, right?


MR. WILLIAMS: Exactly correct, yeah.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Those initiatives would be what, what are we referring to?


MS. C. BENNETT: Some of the things that would have been listed last year in the budget as some of the changes that we would have made under the Government Renewal Initiative.




MS. C. BENNETT: They would have been annualized and this salary line would be the reflection of an annualization of a decision from last year.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, thank you.


So 3.1.12, Opening Doors, I think you indicated there were 82 positions for that program.


MS. FOLLETT: I'm sorry, Mr. Hutchings.


MR. HUTCHINGS: I think you indicated there were 82 positions.


MS. FOLLETT: That's correct, yes.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Okay, and that's pretty consistent is it? Okay.


The federal revenue, that's under the Canada Job Fund. There's a labour market disability component, there used to be, with the federal government. Does any of that money flow in here or is it a different –?


MS. FOLLETT: Yes, Mr. Hutchings, there's a number of breakdowns around this particular funding. Some of it comes through what's known as the ABCC Career Development Initiative.




MS. FOLLETT: Another portion comes through the wage subsidy initiative LMDA, there's about $120,000 of that, and that is for individuals who are EI eligible, unemployed or underemployed.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Yes, okay.


MS. FOLLETT: Then the other piece is wage subsidy initiative, which is what you just referred to, the Canada Job Fund –




MS. FOLLETT: – and that's for registrants who are non-EI eligible and are unemployed or underemployed.


MR. HUTCHINGS: Right. Wasn't that at one time under AES?


MS. FOLLETT: It is. It flows through AES and then the money is referred into our coffers, yes.


MR. HUTCHINGS: It flows through, okay. Yes, that's what I was referring to. Okay.


I have some general questions. I don't know if Ms. Michael has anything on the line items or not.


MS. MICHAEL: (Inaudible.)




Going through, and maybe it's the restructuring; in the past we've talked about McInnes Cooper and some contractual work that was done. Is there a heading here that that would come under in terms of negotiations and where you could avail of outside consultants?


MS. C. BENNETT: Funding for McInnes Cooper comes through the Department of Justice.




Is that where it came in the past?






Minister, would they still be used in the collective bargaining process today? Still availing of services?


MS. C. BENNETT: We're still availing of the services.




In the Budget Speech there was mention of proposed wage freeze legislation for management and non-unionized workers. Are we going to see that in the legislation coming forward in this session?






That's all, thank you.


CHAIR: Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: Just one more question I think. With regard to the 72 positions that were eliminated, were all of those in management or non-unionized positions?


MR. WILLIAMS: They were all either, yes, non-bargaining, non-management or management.


MS. MICHAEL: Right, okay.


Thank you very much.


CHAIR: That's all?


Shall 3.1.11 and 3.1.12 carry?


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'




On motion, subheads 3.1.11 through 3.1.12 carried.


CHAIR: The total. Shall the total carry?


All those in favour, 'aye.'




CHAIR: All those against, 'nay.'


On motion, Human Resource Secretariat, total heads, carried.


On motion, Estimates of the Public Service Commission, the Women's Policy Office and the Human Resource Secretariat, carried without amendment.


CHAIR: Any closing comments, Minister?


MS. C. BENNETT: I just want to take a quick minute. As you can tell by the Estimates, there's been a significant amount of change in this department and I think it would be appropriate to take a moment to thank the leadership in the department as well as all of the team who work in the Human Resource department. They have provided leadership through some new projects this year and new work. They've been very supportive and extremely professional when it comes to making sure HR policies and supports for our workforce are in place.


They are very focused on attention to detail, and I want to congratulate and thank them for their work in preparing for not only the budget but the work they've done in the last year, and I'd ask the Committee to join me in thanking them for their preparation in tonight's Estimates.


MR. HUTCHINGS: If I could, Mr. Chair, I certainly recognize the staff as well in terms of the work they've done over – certainly new initiatives. The minister may not always agree with it, but I certainly recognize the work that's been done by officials. I've had the unique experience of seeing firsthand the type of work these individuals do on a budget and all year round. We recognize and say thank you for your work.


CHAIR: Excellent. Thank you.


Ms. Michael.


MS. MICHAEL: I'd like to join my voice as well. This had to have been an amazing job that you had to do. Thank you very much for doing that so well, and for tonight as well, with your very clear answers and helpful. I look forward to getting the materials that have been promised to us, briefing books, of course, et cetera.


Thank you so much.


CHAIR: Thank you.


I'd like to say thank you. Thank you for bearing with me as Vice-Chair of the Committee and Chair this evening. I wish to thank the staff downstairs and our Clerk. Thank you, Mr. Hutchings.


I'd also like to advise the Committee that we will meet here again on Monday, May 8, for the Department of Finance, Consolidated Fund Services and the Office of the Chief Information Officer at 6 p.m.


Thank you very much.


The Committee adjourned.