June 4, 2008            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION            No. 9


The Committee met at 6:00 p.m. in the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order please!

I would like to welcome members to a regular meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission.

We will start our meeting as we do former meetings, by asking all members to introduce themselves. I will start with the Acting Deputy Speaker to my left.

MR. COLLINS: Felix Collins, Acting Deputy Speaker.

MS E. MARSHALL: Beth Marshall, MHA for Topsail.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, MHA for St. George’s-Stephenville East.

MR. PARSONS: Kelvin Parsons, MHA for Burgeo & LaPoile.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MS KEEFE: Marie Keefe, Clerk’s Office.

MR. MACKENZIE: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk of the House.

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

MR. SPEAKER: Roger Fitzgerald, the Member for Bonavista South and Chair of the Committee.

I will start the meeting by saying, just for members’ information, according to section 43 of the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules, where members may claim travel expenses when the member is unable to return to his or her residence on any particular schedule, we have brought some of those expenditures forward before and it is going to be something that we are going to see as normal, I would think, during the winter months with the members who were elected to serve Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair and Torngat Mountains.

Members have been distributed the cost of expenditures: the Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, on March 7, $858 for transportation, the only available mode of transportation to get the member to the Capital City for the House of Assembly; again, the hon. Member for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, $1,329 for a charter from Mary’s Harbour to St. Anthony, again to arrive in the Capital City for the House of Assembly; the Member for Torngat Mountains, $150 for meals and accommodations while having to stay in Happy Valley-Goose Bay; again, the Member for Torngat Mountains, $580 where the member had to stay in Postville for five days due to weather conditions, and that is for meals and accommodations; the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains again, for meals and accommodations for $192, again, having to stay in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, unable to go to Hopedale due to weather conditions.

That is for information purposes only. We do not need to vote. We do not need to discuss it unless there is somebody who has questions to ask on that particular topic. If not, we will move forward to bring forward our minutes from an in camera session where we talked about the House of Assembly personnel. Since there were names identified to classifications we thought it should be done in camera where people’s names would not be exposed to television, and we would bring forward a minute at this time to deal with the classification of the Offices of the House of Assembly and an appeals process whereby people who are classified have a right to appeal what their classification would be.

I will ask the Clerk if he would read those minutes and have them adopted by the Commission.

CLERK: Number 1: The Commission confirms the position classifications recommended by the Classification Review Committee for the 59 positions as listed in Appendix B of the May 21, 2008 submission titled, "Position Classifications and Related Issues in the House of Assembly Service and Statutory Offices", with an effective date of April 1, 2008.

Number 2: The Commission confirms the permanent incumbency, in the respective restructured/classified positions, of the 50 individuals listed in Appendix E, on file with the Clerk.

Number 3: The Commission confirms the creation of a separate category called General HL, as listed in Appendix C of the May 21, 2008 submission titled, "Position Classifications and Related Issues in the House of Assembly Service and Statutory Offices", with these positions subject to the same human resource policies and provisions as General Service positions and subject to the salary scales and steps as outlined in Appendix D of that submission.

Number 4: The Commission confirms that the pay scales for each of the 59 positions are to be in accordance with the HL salary scales as prescribed by the Executive Branch.

Number 5 - because we made a little change, Mr. Speaker, I might have to do some editing of this after the fact, but this will the general gist: The Commission confirms the Classification Appeal Process dated June 2008. Members of the Appeal Committee will recuse themselves when dealing with appeals from their own office staff.

Those were the minutes on that matter.

Should I go on to the other two matters?

MR. SPEAKER: No, we may as well vote on those first and that way we can avoid confusion. Members have had an opportunity to hear the directive as put forward by the Clerk.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

The hon. Clerk.

CLERK: The two other matters we did, another personal matter looking at the point scale salary level for the Chief Electoral Officer, the draft minute, I have said, here is: The point level of the Chief Electoral Officer is confirmed as Executive Plan 2328, with steps to follow the normal step progression process.

MR. SPEAKER: Members in favour with the directive as put forward by the Clerk?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

The Clerk.

CLERK: The third matter was the legal matter we talked about. The minute I have drafted, again subject to some minor editorializing, is: The Commission directed that its solicitors take action to pursue payment from Mr. Fraser March for the costs as ordered by the courts.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the directive, ‘aye’.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

Carried.

I may be jumping ahead here, because maybe we should have had somebody move and second those directives.

CLERK: No, I think that is probably acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: That is okay?

CLERK: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

The other item that we have discussed and will be brought forward now – and, here again, this was talked about in another session, in camera, at our former meeting, and I think it is in order now, Mr. Clerk, for us to bring that forward with the request by Ms Michael to obtain the cost for legal fees for seeking a legal opinion from a solicitor.

CLERK: We can move it up on the agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: We may as well move that up, since that took part in a meeting as well, and we can deal with that one.

CLERK: We did not discuss it today, but it was at the earlier one.

MR. SPEAKER: It was an in camera meeting.

CLERK: Yes, you are right.

That was number 9 on the agenda.

On that matter, if we are going to –

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we might as well do that now since it was in camera before, just for information purposes, but we are going to deal with that now.

Would the Clerk explain?

CLERK: There is another point.

We have a briefing note there dated May 12, you will see, and it is right after Tab 4 in the binder, but it leaves out a point that, following the analysis we did, and the discussions we held with a member of the Review Commission on Constituency Allowances and Related Matters, that we did reinstate her salary as leader of a third party. While it was in some of the other materials, it is not actually in this briefing note.

Ms Michael asked that I point that out, that her salary was ultimately reinstated.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further comments?

Are members aware of the situation here where the Clerk, and I guess in consultation with me as Speaker, thought, in looking at the act and looking at our Standing Orders, that we interpreted the act to say that Ms Michael, being the leader of a single person party, was not entitled to receive the per diem or the salary that was attached to a recognized party.

There was some disagreement with Ms Michael, who thought that she should have been allowed to keep her salary. Her salary was deducted. Then our Law Clerk, in conversation with Chief Justice Green, asked the question of what his thoughts were and what his intentions were when he did the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act. He clearly stated, while he may not have been clear, that it was his intention for the leader of the third party, no matter what the number was, to maintain her salary.

Ms Michael had gotten a legal opinion. The legal opinion cost $4,971.44. She then proceeded to provide the Commission with the bill, and asked for its payment.

The IEC in the past had paid payments for legal opinions but it is my understanding that, before those agreements were entered into, that the old Internal Economy Commission, it had always come to the Commission and it had been authorized by the Commission the cost was incurred. This is done in a little bit of a different way in that the cost was incurred without coming to the commission for approval, and then the bill was submitted.

I ask members for their thoughts and opinions, whether we should reimburse or whether we should pay this legal bill that was incurred by the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Comments?

MS BURKE: I have a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Just based on the legal opinion that was provided and considering that the decision had been changed, how much influence or importance was there on the legal opinion in this whole process?

MR. SPEAKER: We took the legal opinion and allowed our Law Clerk to look at the legal opinion. The legal opinion didn’t meet the test that would change the Clerk’s mind or my mind in reverting the decision that we made.

The Clerk.

CLERK: The issue, I guess, Minister, was – the word recognized we felt has a certain meaning within Parliamentary circles, and Parliamentarians well understand that. The legal opinion didn’t seem to address that element or recognition.

MS BURKE: Okay.

I guess my question was simply: in the process of reviewing the matter by the House and by the staff of the House, and then reinstating the salary, how much weight or how much influence did the legal opinion have on the fact that we changed the decision?

MR. SPEAKER: In conversation with our Law Clerk, she wasn’t convinced that the legal opinion would have allowed her to make the recommendation that the salary would be instated. It was only by her talking with Chief Justice Green to find out what his intention was and what his thoughts were, that we proceeded to say that we were going to reinstate it, because that was his intention.

MS BURKE: Basically we are dealing with a situation where a legal opinion was sought without prior permission from the House or from the Management Commission to seek that opinion. We are also dealing with an opinion that didn’t necessarily have any influence in the decision.

Based on that, it is going to be my recommendation and my vote that we not pay the legal bill. I say that primarily from the situation where we could say, well, you know, it was sought in good faith, which I don’t doubt. Sometimes we can go by the premise too that it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. If the rule, or I guess the accepted practice as opposed to the rule, is that permission needs to be sought, because we are paying taxpayers’ money here, and that if the rule that has usually been accepted was that permission had been sought first and we make an exception here, I think basically we would have to make the exception for everyone from this point on; although we can go out and say after the fact that this is the accepted standard, which it had been prior to us saying it in the first place anyway.

For that reason, it is going to be my recommendation that we not pay the legal fees.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further comments?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, I have one question.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: What is being said, then, is that the decision to reinstate the salary was not based on the legal opinion, it was based on the discussion with Justice Green. Is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: The opinion of Chief Justice Green was the strongest issue. There was some merit in the legal opinion, but we do not think it was definitive. It took the Chief Justice acknowledging that he had not intended to impact the salary.

MS E. MARSHALL: That was not my understanding when we had discussed it previously. My understanding was that it was the legal opinion that convinced us to change our minds.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: No. As I say, the legal opinion ignores that the word recognized, as an adjective, would have a special meaning within Parliamentary circles. It simply used the common sense understanding of the word recognized, dictionary type definitions. It ignored the fact that that is a Parliamentary term.

I do not mean that their opinion did not have merit, it did, but it was not compelling because it missed that element of the term recognized as a meaning within a Parliament.

MS E. MARSHALL: Right.

Well, I would have to say, based on the discussions that we had previously, my understanding was that it was the legal opinion that had convinced the changing of the mind, and that is not correct; okay.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, just a couple of comments.

We seemed to have narrowed the discussion down in our earlier meetings around the two issues of: was there or was there not prior approval to get the legal opinion; and secondly, was the legal opinion relevant to the resolution of the issue. I think it goes beyond that and I do not think we can just look at those two issues. My concern here, as a member of the Commission - and maybe it should not be my concern, but we are dealing with an issue here that we knew nothing about until it had all happened. That is what is troublesome to myself, because if this matter was unfolding between the Leader of the NDP and the Clerk and the House staff, all of this happened without any of us on the Commission knowing about it, and now we are being asked to make a decision on something that we were not even involved in. Now, maybe we should not have been involved, but somewhere along the line, I would think, the House staff would have advised or mentioned, at least, that we do have precedent here, where members have been given approval to go get legal advice. We have had that precedent here before.

In fairness to the leader of the NDP, if all of these discussions were going on between her and the House people, there was no resolution of it. Meanwhile, her pay was suspended and the House staff were doing one thing, i.e., talking to Chief Justice Green and getting his opinion, and she was gone off to get a legal opinion because she felt she was right. All of this comes together and it is acknowledged then that, okay, she has to be reinstated and she is in fact reinstated, and now we are dealing with the issue of who pays the bill.

I do not think we can just put it that she ran off willy-nilly. There was a communication here between her and between the staff. I am not trying to say who is wrong or who is right, but somewhere in this process, and the whole Green piece here, there have to be communications and directions given by the House staff to anybody who has a problem, whether it is the Leader of the NDP or myself or anyone else, to at least outline a process. I just think, in fairness to her, maybe she was not aware of the process, that she needed approval on this. I was aware of it because I happened to be here longer than she was and was aware of the precedents, but I did not know this was unfolding until I got a copy of these Minutes.

I do not think we can just say: did she ask for approval? I think it was somewhat incumbent, if not incumbent I think at least as a courtesy - what we have done in the past or the fact that well, okay, let us come up with a process or let’s even take this to the Management Commission and have it discussed first, before people went off and did their own thing. She is stuck with a bill and we are making a decision on the payment of it. I think she did act in good faith, albeit she did not know the process, albeit she did not get prior approval. I think she acted in good faith and I do not think it would be fair to just stick her with the cost of the bill, whereas if she had been properly informed and everything had been put on the table in front of the Management Commission, we may well have said to her, let us go seek legal opinion and see where you stand. Let us go talk to Chief Justice Green and get it resolved. I do not think it is black and white. I think there is a little bit of difficulty here on both sides.

What I think about this is, number one, we need that process ironed out, as to the communications when there is an issue, how does it get dealt with, is it any of the business of the commission at all, or does it just get resolved. We see now when there is no communication back with the commission what kind of mess we end up in. We end up trying to make a decision on something we knew nothing about. That is not to take anything away from the Clerk, who is trying to resolve these things and have it dealt it. We need that process in place.

I wholeheartedly agree, as well, that every member of this House needs to know in the future, on a go-forward basis, that you do not get post-permission, you get prior approval. This, I do think, merits some consideration, that this unfolded improperly. That is part of the Green thing again, is we are all living with new rules. There are lots of things we do not understand probably and we are working our way through this. I do not think it is just a case of, oh, don’t pay the bill because she did not get approval. I think there is enough fault to go around here for everybody and we have to be a little bit fair here in how we deal with this.

The bottom line is, at the end of the day this person’s salary was reinstated because Chief Justice Green thought it should be. At the end of the day, the only reason this ever happened was because somebody, i.e. the Clerk, made a decision, based on what he thought was a reasonable interpretation of it, to suspend it. Now, if that piece of work had been done by the Clerk and our Table Officer, our legal officer, with Justice Green in the first place we might never had ended up into this. There is enough fault to go around here of everybody I think.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further comments?

The Clerk.

CLERK: We are talking about two separate issues here. It is not to cast aspersions, but there is never a one-person party that is recognized anywhere. The words in the Act say, the leader of a recognized third party. That does not even require interpretation when it is a one-person party. We have never had anything like it in our House nor has any other House. The fault was, Chief Justice Green, as I understand it, used the Saskatchewan legislation as a model which had that phrase but also had a definition of recognized, so the Act was internally consistent. So, I do not think it was a case of how to interpret recognized. I still maintain there is only one to interpret it.

We do need to amend the Act to achieve Green’s wish. The error was really him putting that word in there.

All that, as Mr. Parsons says, is by the by, because I do have to administer these matters. The legal bill is a separate issue entirely from that. That is a separate matter from the interpretation of 12(g) of the Act.

That is all, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further comments?

If not the House is ready for a motion to either pay the legal fee incurred by Ms Michael to the tune of $4,900 - I do not have it right in front of me, I do not know if the Clerk does.

CLERK: $4,971.44

MR. SPEAKER: Somebody make a motion that we either pay or not pay the legal fee as incurred by the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s.

MR. COLLINS: I have a question. I realize I do not have a vote here, but I think I can ask a question.

Before Ms Michael went off and got her legal opinion, was there clear direction to her that her salary would not be reinstated, and on that basis she went to get the opinion, or was there any possibility of further negotiation that it may be reinstated?

CLERK: No. I told her that her salary was ended, and in the circumstances seeking legal advice is not an unreasonable reaction, I guess, to that.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Based upon the reasons I have enunciated, I would move that the bill be paid under the circumstances.

Is there a seconder for that motion?

Do we need a seconder in committee?

CLERK: It is not essential, I guess.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not think it is essential.

CLERK: In committee in the House, we try to apply the rules of the House. We would need it in committee in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not think we need them in committees.

CLERK: No, we do not in Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that we pay the amount of $4971.44 for a legal bill for the leader of the third party.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

The motion is defeated.

The next item on the agenda is committee per diems.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I am in conflict so I will excuse myself from this discussion.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

The next item is Committee per diems. That comes under Tab 3. This is a continuation of a discussion that we had at a previous meeting. We are again looking at the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act.

Chief Justice Green talked about doing away with salaries for members who served on certain committees, in particular the Public Accounts Committee.

Prior to Chief Justice Green’s report, all the Members of the Public Accounts Committee received a stipend for being members of that particular committee.

Chief Justice Green suggested that what we would do is, we would pay the Chair of Public Accounts and the Vice-Chair of Public Accounts and the members would receive a per diem from $145 to $200, Mr. Clerk?

CLERK: Two hundred dollars maximum.

MR. SPEAKER: Two hundred dollars maximum for each meeting that they attended.

It has been brought up for discussion whether any committee members should get paid at all or if members should serve on those committees without getting a payment just by the fact that they are a Member of the House of Assembly.

MR. COLLINS: Mr. Chair, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, am I in conflict here?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, you cannot vote, and I suggest you probably not have input into it as well.

Anyway, we took direction from the committee in the last meeting we had to go back and look at and put together some numbers and crunch the numbers and see what kind of money we are talking about here, if we deem that we are going to provide allowances to members serving on certain committees. Most of the committees of the House, when you look at the Resources Committee, the Education Committees and whatever active committees that you have in the House, usually meet when the entering budgetary time and when the House is in session. When the House is in session, no member would get a stipend for attending a meeting. The only members who would get paid for attending meetings when the House is not in session would be members serving on committees that do not hold another office.

For instance, Mr. Parsons, who is the Opposition House Leader, gets a salary for being the Opposition House Leader. I get a salary for being Speaker. The only person here on this committee who would be entitled to those particular per diems is Ms Marshall for Topsail, because she does not hold another position within the House.

We are not talking about a lot of money here and we are not talking about a lot of people. There was a breakdown provided in Tab 3 of approximately what it would cost in order to provide stipends to the members who would serve on those committees. The total estimated cost here was $21,400, but I think those figures have been redone, have they, Marie, Ms Keefe? They have been redone, because the numbers that were put forward in the book that we have there were not accurate because most of the people who were shown there as members do not receive a salary.

The Clerk.

CLERK: The numbers you have in your book, it is not a case of being accurate. Those were the Budget estimates done last December or so, when we had no idea who was on committees. What you see there is $21,400 predicated on a $200 per diem, 31 meetings and all the members of these various committees getting that. It is really just the budget information and that was what was approved in the Budget, so we did not know the precise costs once memberships of committees were determined and who were office-holders and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: So, the numbers that are revised – it is not the $11,400 which was the funding that was requested, it shows that it is $6,515. That is strictly a guess depending on how many meetings we have and what the structure of the committee will be, but it is the best advice that we have at this time for the structure of the Committees that are already in place.

I ask members for their comments or for their questions.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: Just for clarification, Mr. Speaker, maybe the Clerk can help me. Section 45 that is referenced there in the briefing note (1) and (2) talks about: if you are a member of a Standing or Special Committee you may claim for expenses related to attendance at a meeting that is an intersessional meeting. (2) says: expenses claimed shall be approved by the Speaker before it is incurred. Where does it say that if a member of a Standing or Select Committee is already receiving remuneration because of another officer’s position, we will call it, or a ministerial position, that they shall not fall here?

CLERK: It is the very first bullet of the note, Mr. Parsons, 12(4). So, with the exception of reimbursement of expenses, subsection (3) - that is the per diem - does not apply to the minister or the holder of the position referred to in subsection (1).

MR. PARSONS: Okay, good.

I am just wondering, do we – because that comes under 12, and then we are dealing now with an amendment to 45, based on an action required. I am just wondering, just so there is no misunderstanding here by anybody, is there any way, when you are reading 45 that we can link it right back to 12(4)? Even if you put in a 45(4) saying: notwithstanding 45(1), (2) and (3) it is subject to 12(4)? Do you know what I am saying?

CLERK: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: You are absolutely right, it would make it sound.

MR. PARSONS: That way there is absolutely no misunderstanding if somebody tries to put forward an argument that, well, I am Opposition House Leader but I am coming into town for a meeting with the Standing Committee so therefore I am entitled to the per diem; just so that is very clear that you do not do that.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been a long standing custom that nobody collects two salaries in the House of Assembly.

MR. PARSONS: That is right, but I think that would really clarify that, that there is no question about it. Let’s bring 12(4) right up into 45.

MR. SPEAKER: Sure, for clarification.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I thought I understood this until the question by Mr. Parsons.

My question is now: Although somebody is a minister or holds an office here in the House, but they are outside St. John’s and they are coming in for a meeting of the Management Commission or a committee of the House, so they are coming into St. John’s for that meeting, I understand they do not get paid a stipend for sitting on the committee because of their salary from holding the other office, but would their expenses be claimable?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, their expenses to travel to and from the meeting place are reimbursed according to our allowances.

MS BURKE: So, section 45(1) that we just read says, "A member who is a member of a Standing or Special Committee of the House of Assembly, or the commission, may claim for expenses related to attendance at a committee or a commission meeting when that meeting is held during an intercessional period," that is, in fact, the way it is?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: "Expenses claimed by a member under subsection (1) shall be approved by the speaker before that expense is reimbursed to the member." So 45 (1) has nothing to do with the stipend that we are discussing?

MR. SPEAKER: No, but I think Mr. Parsons thought that it should be all built in together so there would be a clear and concise understanding that nobody would expect a stipend if they were already receiving a salary. While it is understood it is probably not always written.

MS BURKE: I agree with that, with what is being said. It is just that I did not think 45, in any way, even addressed the stipend whereas 12 does.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Stipend is not addressed anywhere, of course, until we actually make the rule, but section 45 of the rules is called, actually, committee allowance. It is part seven of the rules. It would be the appropriate place if the commission does decide to have a committee per diem. It would be in section 45. It would simply be a matter of rewriting that. Right now it only address expenses, but if a per diem were to be approved this is where it would fit.

MS BURKE: Right, but per diem would come under section 12, "A member who sits on a committee…."

CLERK: Section 12 gives the authority. It is actually a little convoluted. If you can go back to the start of the briefing note, section 12(3) gives the authority, and then if you go to the next bullet you will see subsection 15(4) which says: The commission may only exercise its power to prescribe reimbursement or compensation as under subsection 12(3) by making rules. Through three steps we actually have to write a rule to put in the members’ rules, and section 45 of the rules would be the appropriate place to place it.

It is a bit convoluted but it ultimately has to be a rule.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: I just want, again, be clear here.


My understanding is, the way this is intended to be is that if you are a paid officer, minister or holder of any position that pays you you can be on any other Standing Committee or Select Committee but you do not get paid a stipend for it.

CLERK: That is right.

MR. PARSONS: You will be paid the necessary travel expenses and so on for doing it and your per diems, but you will not get a stipend simply because you are on that committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that is exactly what it is. Members traveling to or from, wherever the meeting is held, recoup their expenses up to the amounts that we are allowed in our constituency allowance rules, if you travel for the purpose of that meeting. If you are an office holder, just to repeat, already you are receiving a stipend in your duties as a Member of the House of Assembly, or an Officer of the House, then you do not collect that particular stipend, only expenses.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: Just to take that one step further – the other piece here is, by saying that those members of those Standing Committees or Select Committees would be paid, that is not something that we came up with as a commission. That is something that Chief Justice Green said they should be paid. In fact, he put a cap on it of $200. The process that we are going to adopt here would fit within what Chief Justice Green is saying. Is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: Chief Justice Green put forward the guidelines where members could collect per diems because of the way he restructured some committees. He is suggesting from $145 to $200 with the Chair receiving – I am not so sure how to follow that one, Mr. Clerk.

CLERK: What Green said was up to $200, so he did not specify a dollar figure.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

CLERK: This $145, $195 is the only remuneration level of the three levels that government applies to various boards and committees which is below the $200 maximum. The other two levels, level two and level three, are above that on a daily basis. If we are to apply his $200 maximum the only government-wide policy that fits is the lowest level.

MR. PARSONS: Level one.

CHAIR: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: It seems to me, reading the revision of section 45 that subsection (2) is the thing that is causing a bit of confusion because subsection (1), which is what is in the original 45(1), is very clear. It is about expenses being covered and that is true for any member of the committee; expenses are covered. I think that was what Ms Burke’s question was about.

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct.

MS MICHAEL: Then, when you come to subsection (2) that is being proposed, it says, "Expenses referred to in subsection (1) shall be a per diem of (a certain amount of money) for attendance…" That is not what I think it is. The expenses in (1) are the travel expenses which everybody gets paid if there are travel expenses. Number (2), it is not the expenses referred to, it is on top of that there is a per diem.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, we might have to do something with that wording. It is not intended to be the sort of reimbursement of ordinary travel expenses.

MS MICHAEL: That is what it says. It says: expenses referred to shall be the per diem. That is not what it is. That is the problem, I think. Number (2) should read – and that is where the reference back to 12(3) and 12(4) would come in. I forget the word that I should be using here, but in spite of 12 (3) and 12 (4) there shall be a per diem of a certain amount of money except for the exceptions in 12 (3) and 12 (4).

MR. SPEAKER: 45 (1) should be able to exist by itself without reference to expenses referred to in subsection (1) and 45 (2); completely different.

MS MICHAEL: (2) shouldn’t be referring back to (1). It should be talking about the per diem for those who are eligible for the per diem.

MR. SPEAKER: Do members have any other questions?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I have one comment.

I guess, I don’t know where other members stand on this, but as members of the House of Assembly I think the salary is about $92,000. Am I correct in saying that?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, you are correct.

MS BURKE: I don’t know how many other jobs, although it is not a job here, it is an elected office, that if you attended a committee in relation to your job you would get paid on top of your salary for doing it, for the same job. I know, as a minister I wouldn’t get a per diem to come to a meeting like this. As ministers, you sit on all kinds of committees all the time by virtue of your job, but it is part of your job.

I am wondering what the opinions are. To think that somebody is doing their job as an MHA for $92,000 a year, to sit on committees, would that be considered part of your job as opposed to in addition to your job?

MR. SPEAKER: Everybody gets paid a base salary, and you are right I think it is $92,000 and some odd dollars now, since it has all been made taxable. If we want to take it to that extent, I guess we would probably ask the questions: Why would ministers get extra salary; why would the Government House Leader get extra salary; and why would the Speaker get extra salary? What it is, is a commitment by somebody to serve on a committee over and above, and demands more than what he would normally have to expect as being a sitting member of the House of Assembly just representing their district.

MS BURKE: I am not even aware that, as Government House Leader, there would be extra pay to it.

MR. SPEAKER: Government House Leader wouldn’t get extra pay because you are getting a minister’s salary.

MS BURKE: Right, okay.

MR. SPEAKER: In the past, we have had Government House Leaders here with no other portfolio other than being the Government House Leader.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I guess I would like to hear from the committee members. Maybe we are going to eliminate all of it, I don’t know. I just wonder, at that salary of $92,000, if somebody has to sit on a committee do we need to pay – they are not going to be out money because we will pay for their travel or their hotel if they are in the city and they are doing it. I would just be interested in the comments on that.

MR. SPEAKER: I just see it as extra responsibilities.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: There are two things, Mr. Chair. One is, this is not something new, in my understanding, that this been long-standing, paying MHAs who do extra work on committees, so this didn’t come about because of the Green report. This has been in place for a long time. I think I am correct on that.

Secondly, the regulation under 12(4), with the exception of the reimbursement of expenses not applying to a minister or a holder of a position, that is for every single one of us who receives extra salary.

So, as the leader of the third party, when I sit on the various committees that I sit on, I do not get any more money because I am paid extra money as the leader of the third party and that is the extra responsibility. The $92,000 is for being the MHA representing your constituents.

I am just trying to go through what I think the rationale has been in the past, that an MHA’s base salary is the work we do as Members of the House of Assembly for our constituents. Then, when we do this other work, if we do not already receive extra salary, it is extra work that other MHAs will not have to do, so the MHA who is on a committee is being recognized as doing other work which is not necessarily part of being an MHA.

To me, that would be the rational for the payment; that would be my understanding. I do not know how many years this has been in place, but it seems to me it has been in place a long time.

MR. SPEAKER: I guess the glaring example would be the Public Accounts Committee, where Chief Justice Green was not kind to the number of meetings and the activity of the Public Accounts Committee in the past. As a result of that, he took away members’ salaries, except the Chair and the Vice-Chair.


The question that I would ask is: If the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, and the Vice-Chair, get a salary increase and there are another five members on that particular Public Accounts Committee who would be expected to sit and take part in all of the committee’s workings, would it be fair for those people to receive absolutely nothing? I just ask the question.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: I do not know if I have much to add, but my understanding was: we all get a base salary as an MHA. If you have duties above and beyond that, there is a certain extra remuneration that you get, whether you are a minister, Speaker, Chair of Committees, Deputy Chair, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Opposition House Leader, or leader of the third party. That has always been the case.

It seems to me what Chief Justice Green has done here is, he codified that; he made that for sure and we put it in the legislation. That is all outlined. He took what was the case and he has confirmed all of that.

The only piece that he seems to have tinkered with at all is his concern, as you say, about the Public Accounts Committee, for example, where not only the Chair and the Vice-Chair but everybody got remunerated and there might never be a meeting. What he said was, let the Chair and the Vice-Chair keep it, but with regard to others, or any other committee of the House, if you do put in the extra time, fine, you can get remunerated, but it shall not be on an annual basis; it shall be on a per-meeting basis, and only then up to no more than $200.

The basic tenet running through all of this, again, is that there is nothing wrong with getting the extra remuneration for doing the extra job, but you only get it once. For example, what Minister Burke does, she has an extra salary, an additional remuneration, because she is a minister of the Crown, the same as I get one for Opposition House Leader. As Opposition House Leader, I think I am expected to do a lot of other pieces for that, other than just the Opposition House work. I think I am expected - the rules require, actually - to be on the management committee. I am required, as being Opposition House Leader, to be a part of standing committees of the House of Assembly, the same as she is, as a minister. She is required to go to the Social Policy Committee. She is required to go to Planning and Priorities, if she is on it, or appointments committees and Treasury Boards and so on.

The basic bottom line is: you are doing those duties, you can get remunerated once for the extra duties but that is it; there is a cut-off. He wanted to build in a fairness quotient to anybody who attended other meetings on an ad hoc basis.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

If not, the Chair will put the question.

The question will be: Shall members receive a per diem for attending meetings of the House of Assembly, when the House of Assembly is not in session, and they are part of a committee and not receiving any extra salary for any other appointment?

All those in favour – not in favour; that would be the phrasing of the question - number one, if they would get a per diem; and, number two, what per diem would they get.

Maybe we can decide if they should get a per diem first.

Are the members in agreement that a per diem would be paid?

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

Now we need to find what per diem members should get by serving on committees when the House is not in session.

The Clerk. Do you want to just reference where the $145 and the $200 came from?

CLERK: Yes, the bullet of the second page of the briefing, at the top, quotes a document called the Guideline for Rates of Remuneration for Boards, Commissions and Agencies. Those guidelines establish three levels of rates for serving on various boards and committees and so on.

The highest level, the third level, I forget what the per diem is, but that involves a sort of quasi-judicial or appeal hearings and so on. The second level is a professional qualifications level which might well fit committees of the House and it is what we have applied to the external members of the Audit Committee; however, section 12(3) of the act puts a ceiling of $200 on it, so we cannot go greater than $200. If we are trying to apply government policies there is only one level which meets the $200 ceiling, so we put it in. There is nothing particularly magical about the $145 for member or $190 for Chair if the Commission chose that. It was simply the only model we had to point to within government, so that is the level one salaries or per diems that members on various government boards and commissions get if they are at the level one level.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will entertain an amount to be paid for a per diem by members serving on appointed committees.

Minister Burke.

MS BURKE: I understand the rationale, and why we looked at level one and we looked at the guidelines, but for the sake, I guess, and we probably would not adopt it as level one, but if we are in agreement with these amounts and we are tied by the legislation that it does not exceed the $200, I think what we need to do is just look at the amounts for our own purposes and not tie it to level one.

Now, I have no idea if level one will ever change with government. It could change tomorrow, it could never change, I don’t know, but I think we just need to set our own. I know the rationale as to where these numbers came from, but I think for our purposes we never refer to level one because if level one changes tomorrow and goes up by 10 per cent, we cannot do it based on our own legislation.

CLERK: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: So, should we have an amount stated rather than a level?

The Clerk.

CLERK: I think all Minister Burke is saying is, if the Commission is agreeable to that, just identify it as $145 per diem; don’t associate it with the level one guidelines.

MR. SPEAKER: Can somebody make a suggestion and make a motion on what the per diem would be?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I am ready to move that it be $140 a day.

MS BURKE: One hundred and forty-five.

MS MICHAEL: One hundred and forty-five, sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: One hundred and forty-five dollars per day.

Would you also include in that, that the Chair would receive the same, or would the Chair receive $190, or everybody would receive the same?

MS MICHAEL: What is the practice right now? I think we should stay with the practice that we have, because now everybody just receives the same? I would not change our current practice.

MR. SPEAKER: It is certainly up for suggestions.

MS BURKE: Just review again with me, how was the remuneration done for the Public Accounts Committee prior to the Green report?

MR. SPEAKER: Members were receiving $8,000 a year, the Chair was receiving $12,000, the Vice-Chair was receiving $10,000, and members were receiving $8,000.

MS BURKE: Okay.

Now what is it? That was regardless of the number of meetings, right?

MR. SPEAKER: That was regardless of the number of meetings.

MS BURKE: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Now, since the Green report, I think the $12,000 and $10,000 is still –

CLERK: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would now get $13,123 and the Vice-Chair would get $10,032, and those would increase over time with the pay scale.

MS BURKE: The other members of the committee, if we make this change, they would get, then, the $145?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, per meeting.

MS BURKE: Okay.

So, if we said $145 for a member of a committee and we now have a further discussion on the $190 to say whether or not we feel a Chair would get more than a regular member of a meeting, how would that relate to the Public Accounts Committee, or would that be exempt? Like, if they get the $12,000 or the $10,000 they would not get the -

MR. SPEAKER: That would be exempt. What we would be talking about would be possibly the Chair of the Standing Orders Committee, if they were not receiving any other salary, the Chair of the Privileges and Elections Committee, the Chair of a special committee that a minister might appoint to travel around the Province. I think of the RNC issue of firearms, I think of the anti-smoking, this sort of thing where you travel around and receive input on a special committee struck by the House. We may never have one.

Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: The only comment I would make in regard to that is, nothing that we do here can overrule the fact that Chief Justice Green has said the Chair of Public Accounts is going to get $13,123. That has to stand; that is the law. All we are doing is dealing with a rule. It would have to be other Chairs. Anything we do cannot impact that.

Another example, Mr. Speaker, would be the Chairperson of the Audit Committee of our Management Commission. Right now, Ms Marshall is the Member for Topsail and she does not get any remuneration from anything else but she does serve in the capacity as Chair of our Audit Committee. So the question is: Do we allow the $145 to be payable to her in that Chairperson position or do we consider that, because she is the Chair, she should receive that extra $190 or whatever the figure is that we come up with?

MR. SPEAKER: A good example.

Just to explain it further, the Member for Topsail is the only member who would serve on this Management Commission who would sit here while everybody else is out doing their regular duties and, up until now, she gets absolutely no reimbursement whatsoever.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: My further comment is, going along the rationale of how we select it, or if we do adopt the $145, although we are going to set it as our rate, and in our rationale it will have nothing to do with level one because we will set our own rates, but if we feel that level one is something that we feel is acceptable to how we would reimburse committee members it would be my suggestion that we look at the Chair at the $190 and the regular member at $145.

We move on from that using level one as the basis of our rationale for making that decision, although at this point on it would be the rates only that we would refer to.

MR. SPEAKER: Would you like to put that in the form of a motion, that the Chair of the committee would receive $190 per diem? Again, for members we have already settled on $145.

MS BURKE: I move that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda would be Tuition Assistance Program.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Chair?

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: I am sorry. I did vote in favour of the motion you just made, and I have no problem with it, but, just for the record, and to show some fairness quotient, I guess, I would just like to remind committee members that we did, in our earlier minutes on this Management Commission - there are two external non-MHA members of the Audit Committee of our board of management. We voted here, for example, to give them – and they are members on the committee - $240 a day.

So, just to show that we are not going overboard here, we are paying the Chair $190 whereas we have already agreed to pay the two external members of that committee $240 – and we are staying within the guidelines of Chief Justice Green by doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The next item is Tuition Assistance Program.

I will ask the Clerk to make some comments.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This came to a previous meeting and the issue came up that longer-serving political support staff who are on a contractual basis were not covered under this policy. The policy spoke to permanent or temporary but did not address contractual, which is the status, of course, of individual assistants to members and ministers and to caucus.

Based on the decision of the Commission, we went back and we redrafted the program. The program is essentially the one that is run through the Executive Branch of government.

If you look on the very first page of the program itself, Legislature Tuition Assistance Program, under the heading Eligibility, that is really the part that we changed, whereas before it said permanent for two years and then it said full-time and part-time temporary with five or more years of service.

What we have done in that last sentence was call it temporary and contractual employees with five or more continuous years of service.

So there is still this distinction between permanent and temporary and contractual, but that does mirror what was in the Executive Branch in government because there, permanent, you require a minimum of two years but the temporary you still required the five or more years of continuous service.

Failing that it is essentially as we brought to the Commission a few weeks ago and that was really just a mirror image of the government program, the Executive Branch program.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I spoke to this the last time it was on the agenda, and the issue that I had with it was that the contractual employees who work with MHAs, under what was brought before the Commission, were not eligible for tuition assistance or they were eligible after a lengthy period of time.

Looking at what is there now, I have to state that I do not agree with it. I think that the part that says employees full-time and part-time permanent, I think that should be expanded to include the contractual people because there are a lot of contractual people who work in the area where I work and some have been there for a number of years, and I left that they should be entitled to some training or professional development. I think that the period of time of five years is too long a time for people to have to wait before they are eligible for training.

Just as an example, I know in the area that I work in, where there are mostly contractual people, there are types of programs I would like for the staff to have. For example, dealing with difficult people would be a good program for them because of the nature of their jobs.

I would prefer to see the first sentence, where it says, employees with full-time or part-time permanent employment status, be expanded to include the contractual people also.

MR. SPEAKER: Further comments?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I have a comment just on the whole process itself.

If this is the policy that is in place, and this is how we do it, and it is long-standing, and we are thinking about whether or not contractual employees - building on some of the stuff that Ms Marshall has just indicated, that if people are there working and there is a requirement or a need to do further training that will assist them in their duties, and we have a policy in place, I do not like the idea that they are excluded.

When you look through the whole process here, you need to have learning plans and it needs - management can request it - to have the targeted competency development. I guess my question is: As far as accountability goes, if we are going to actually put more people in under this program, is it a requirement that everyone has a learning plan? Is it in performance appraisals? Is it something that, if we checked the files tomorrow, we would see that everyone actually has one on file, or is it something that we are dealing with that is here but there is really not that level of accountability attached to it?

Because, if there is money attached to this, I want to make sure it is not just that somebody decides they are going to do a university course and they come in and we pay half of their tuition. I want to make sure that there is a long-standing learning plan and performance appraisals in place that they match together.

Where we have come so far in how we handle the affairs of the House, I would not want that this becomes another program that accountability is not built in. If somebody decides to do two courses at Memorial this summer, and they may very well relate to the program, and they bring in their receipt, do we have the appropriate documentation to pull out that says, yes, it is approved, and here is the accountability that backs it up.

MR. SPEAKER: My understanding is – and the Clerk can correct me; he is certainly much more up to speed than I am on this - the course of action that you would be taking would have to be directly related to and enhance the position that you hold within your –

MS BURKE: And identified (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: And probably weighted against the performance appraisals.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: Which would go back to the contract employees; that the MHAs who are technically the supervisors would have to have learning contracts and that would have to be well established. They just could not go out and say I am going to do a course in whatever, and bring in the receipt and then we pay half of the tuition.

MR. SPEAKER: It would all have to be pre-approved. The results of the learning would have to be directly related unto the position that they hold and to enhance what they need to acquire in order to continue with the job.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, it is certainly closely related - it may be a little bit on the edge - for someone to avail of this they would have to have this learning plan, but I would not want to suggest that every employee in the House has a learning plan. It would be those who would want to avail of college, post-secondary type tuition. They would have to have the learning plan and progress through. It would only be certain individuals.

I should say as well, Ms Marshall, this one is really designed for college and university type credit programs. Other courses, staff, contractual staff, would always be available to do, and Green himself speaks to professional development opportunities for political staff. This one is more tied to the credit type courses.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I have a question with regard to the temporary. The contractual I totally agree with, but I am having some problems with temporary. I would like to know, is there a precedent for that in other areas of the government?

The contractual, yes, but say somebody, two years in a row, worked for six weeks in an office. Even if the person said gee, I think I want to go on and do political science, after only twelve weeks of employment, we would say, yes, we are going to pay half of your education? That one seems very, very open to me by having temporary in there.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not think that is the way it is.

The Clerk.

CLERK: They would, I guess, with that wording, be eligible. Now, the likelihood of them actually being approved for it would be another matter.

In the government policy it does say full-time or part-time temporary employees with five or more continuous years. That was what the government program said. We just took out full-time and part-time and left the temporary.

I guess you are working with a finite budget, and you would only budget so much each year, so in terms of what might actually be approved, that would be another element to it.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: If somebody is only coming in for a short number of weeks like that per year, I do not know if, based on that type of employment, learning plans would actually be developed and negotiated and filed at that point.

If this is the plan that is on the books and in policy, and that we may be able to extend it to our contract employees, because we have a lot, the only thing that I really caution on all of this before there is any approval is that for accountability purposes the whole process needs to be followed and needs to documented, because we do not want the AG coming in here after the fact and seeing how we are paying out tuition here, there and somewhere else, and there are no plans. The plan really must match what would be available to other government employees.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Just to pick up on the point that Ms Burke mentioned, the concern that I had was that I did want the contractual employees who have been here for several years to have the same opportunity as permanent people coming in. I was not concerned about the temporary people, because I agree with the comments of my colleagues. I do not see the public purse paying for training for people who are in here on a temporary basis, but in the area that we work in, that there are contractual people who have been here for a couple of years and they could avail of training that is specific to their job, I think that would be beneficial. Of course, it would have to go with the proper documentation in that it would have to be related to the job, and things of that nature.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Just to say - and I guess it is somewhat in support of what Ms Marshall is saying - political staff, no matter how long you are here, by definition, are contractual. There is no such thing as a permanent staffer. The Speaker’s executive assistant is a contractual employee with forty years of service, but she is a contractual employee.

In the Legislature, there is almost, in a sense, no such thing as permanent for anybody involved with the political process. You are always contractual. So, it is not unreasonable to equate that with the permanent staff.

MS BURKE: I have another question on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I know when we are talking about contractual staff we are talking about constituency assistants.

MS E. MARSHALL: And I believe there are some research people.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MS BURKE: But say constituency assistants.

MS E. MARSHALL: Primarily, yes.

MS BURKE: My understanding is, too, that some of the constituency assistants are not paid by the House.

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct, the constituency assistants who work for parliamentary secretaries and the ministers.

The Clerk.

CLERK: That is correct.

I think that will have to change. I mean, we will have to talk to Executive Council and change that. It is a bit cumbersome, but Green does speak to the House covering the cost of constituency assistants.

MS BURKE: I guess the point I am getting at, if we cover contracted employees under this policy here it will not mirror what is in government.

MS E. MARSHALL: It has to be consistent, certainly.

MS BURKE: Right.

So contracted employees, I would think, are not going to be covered under government because of the nature of some of the contracts all the time, how things go.

CLERK: That is right, they are not.

MS BURKE: So we are actually going to have some of our assistants who would be able to avail of training and others who will not.

There is a difficulty that we are not going to mirror government policy here. I know we are not required to, but we are also creating a two-tier system.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: There is an issue with CAs and DAs on departmental payrolls. Now, Green is silent on executive assistants, but on CAs he is clear: the House should cover the cost of all forty-eight constituency assistants - and the current practice of some being on departmental payrolls is not really what Green says.

We have had some discussions with Executive Council on this. It is a bit cumbersome. While we had some discussions during the budgetary process, my understanding is, this is not new money. The forty-eight CA salaries exist overall. What you are actually doing – and, Marlene, you can help me out here - this is a restructuring under the Executive Council Act, because you are taking a position from department X and you are reassigning it to the House of Assembly, so there is no new money - it is not a budget issue - but it is a departmental restructuring issue. It is rather cumbersome process.

Marlene, is that your understanding?

MS. LAMBE: Yes, the Executive Council Act, of course, allows restructuring throughout the year between departments or between the department and the Legislature. Normally it is done at Budget time. That is the easiest time, I guess, is the best way to put it. What you are doing is moving salaries from one department to another. It can be done.

MS BURKE: I guess my question is more along the lines: could the Tuition Assistance Program be paid out to employees on contract as constituency assistants who are covered under a department?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I guess the way this is written it could be. They would be eligible, but you are right there is a real issue there that we should address. If I could just so people have the reference, under the rule 26(4) it says, expenses related to constituency assistants’ salaries and benefits shall be paid directly to constituency employees by the Office of the Speaker. So, the forty-eight of them are suppose to be covered under the House. It has just been a little cumbersome to get it reorganized.

Minister Burke makes a point. The way this is written, yes, they could. They are still-

MS BURKE: Because further to that, although they are employees of the department, if the constituency assistant needs to travel for instance into St. John’s if there is training or meetings or something, that is paid out of the constituency allowance although they are an employee of the department, and if anything happens I guess they are still an employee of the department, if there is a workplace accident or something. Although they are not tied to the House, their expenses come from the House account. That is why I am wondering - because we pay their expenses out of the House account, would we also pay their tuition?

CLERK: It is reasonable. The fact that they were on the department payroll should not necessarily preclude them, I guess. If there are forty-eight CAs eligible, I do not know if that would seriously matter that they are at a certain point in time on a department payroll.

I point out, that with Cabinet shuffles and so on they can be the very next day off the department payroll and back on the House of Assembly payroll because they are of course tied to their members’ fortunes. It is a rather complex field to be dealing with them.

The same applies to executive assistants. None of them are on our payroll because they are tied to ministers. Well, I guess we have a Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition and so on. Really, the thought is they would do only departmental work.

MS BURKE: But that rationale does not make sense because the Speaker or the Leader of the Opposition would not have a department.

CLERK: No.

MS BURKE: It would be House business.

CLERK: Or it is a very small one, a comparable body but much smaller than a department.

MS BURKE: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Just to expand on what Ms Burke was saying about the contractual employees in government departments, some of the contractual employees in government departments have been there for many years and I would think that some of them have received training in the departments.

CLERK: Obviously there has been tuition reimbursement for a number of years. This one is relatively new within the last year or so, but it did not mention contractual. It simply said full-time and part-time temporaries.

MS E. MARSHALL: I am just thinking of some people I have known who are contractual with government and thinking that I am pretty sure they received training over the years, but it would have to be clarified.

CLERK: I should say as well, we have not put a lot of money in this. I mean, it would always be subject to the Budget. There is not much sense in people coming forward with $200,000 or $300,000 worth of requests if they money is not there.

Of current staff in the House of Assembly service, I know one who has been pursuing, and there is not a huge demand, as it were, for this. I do not know what the demand might be under the contractual staff. Maybe there would be more. I guess we would simply have to look at the Budget demands and year by year adjust it.

Mr. Speaker, I guess we should deal with Ms Marshall’s point. Temporary and contractual, if that phrasing will stay, we should deal with the years of service, I guess, if you are getting ready to (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Have we progressed enough to provide the commission with a directive in order to bring this to some conclusion?

I would ask the Clerk if he has made notes there, if he can read back the directive and see if its fits with the thinking of the members.

CLERK: In the briefing note we put, action required, which simply would be approving this May 2008 Tuition Assistance Program. The only thing we would need to add, I guess, is changes. Was there a consensus that the five years of continuous service was too long, that the contractual, if not the temporary, should be aligned with the permanent staff two-year minimum?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, my thoughts on it: what was there for the temporary is fine, it was the contractual that I was concerned about, the long-term contractual. The way I looked at it was, employees – that first sentence says: Employees full-time or part-time would also pick up contractual. So it would say: Employees, contractual, full-time or part-time who had been employed with the Legislature for a minimum of two years; pick up the contractual there.

That was my point, so I will just leave it to my colleagues on –

CLERK: The temporary would stay with the five years?

MS E. MARSHALL: Yes, that would be fine with me.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael –

MS MICHAEL: I can live with that, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Are members okay with that, with the wording for the directive?

Maybe I will ask the Clerk to read it back and that way we can –

CLERK: All I will do is the eligibility piece. There seem to be no issues with the rest.

Employees with full or part-time permanent employment status or contractual employees who have been employed with the Legislature for a minimum of two years and so on. So, we will move contractual up so that it is equivalent to the permanent, full-time or part-time permanent. The second sentence of that paragraph, temporary employees with five or more continuous years of service are also eligible.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Then when we go through what we have here as the policy and the application approval process, the employee must have on file with the Manager, Human Resources Services and Payroll Administration a completed learning plan form. That goes even if they are contracted as constituency assistants.

CLERK: Yes, anyone to get assistance would have to go through the same process.

MS BURKE: The other thing I would recommend is that because this is new now, if we go with this and it includes the constituency assistants, that the members and the assistants need to understand the process so we are not left dealing with receipts coming in and no documented information prior to.

CLERK: Yes.

MS BURKE: That is very important for accountability.

MR. SPEAKER: You have heard the directive.

All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.

The directive is carried.

It being 7:52 in the night, we have (b) item under Tb 6. I ask the Clerk if the budget process is a priority.

CLERK: Well, we will not be starting new until the fall, so it is not an urgent matter as long as we get it done before, well, September or October period. We should be done before then.

MR. SPEAKER: We do not need to deal with that tonight.

I am going to seek guidance from the commission members regarding Tab 6, New Business. We have a number of requested amendments there. I am sure that it is going to take a fair amount of discussion and a fair amount of time. It is to do with mileage rates, secondary residence, increased numbers of trips, House in session, House not in session, increase to intra-constituency allocation, meal per diems, functions and event costs.

If you look at Tab 6, the only recommendation that had come back from the table is to ask for direction from the commission. Some of those things, if we are going to change them - some of them I do not know if it is within the parameters of the commission, or how far we want to get involved in making some changes to some of those rules. If there are some there, if members have had a look at them to say that it is something that we should pursue and get a directive brought back to another meeting on how we pursue it, or if there are others that might want to come out of the mix all together - what I am saying is that I think it is unfair to expect the Clerk and Marie and Ms Keefe to go out and do a book of work if it is not something that we can deal with.

I seek guidance and opinion.

Members have had the manual for some time. Let’s just have a general discussion of what we are going to do, and how we are going to pursue here. It is certainly big items for members; they have brought it to all of our attention. It is something that we need to deal with. How we go about it is the question.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I will take the first go at it, Mr. Chair.

As I read through all of the various requests, and I have done it a couple of times, I actually felt very uncomfortable with the thought that we were going to deal with this and make decisions.

I thought I saw somewhere, and I am looking for it, that there was a suggestion - maybe it was in a memo from the Clerk - that perhaps there are some pieces here that we would say we should not be the ones; it should the committee that has to be set up. I forget the name of that committee.

MS BURKE: The Members’ Compensation Review Committee.

MS MICHAEL: That is right, the Members’ Compensation Review Committee.

I think that committee should deal with this stuff and bring a recommendation to the Management Commission, because there is detailed work that would have to be done in looking at all of the requests. I mean, basically there is a rejection of several pieces of what is in the Green report.

There are some things here, and I won’t get into specifics but there is one thing in particular that I would say no, we cannot do that. I will name it; it is the one about the federal kilometres. Well, yes, if the whole public service sector is going to get it. I do not see - we cannot make that decision that we are going to get a different rate of kilometres than the public service sector, for example.

There was one that was really simple because it is not changing a rule, it is fitting within something, and that is the one about paying municipal taxes, property taxes, because that seems to be within the spirit of something that is already happening but adding one more expense for maintaining one’s secondary residence in the Capital City, but I have to say I do not feel comfortable with our trying, in the context in which we do our work, to work through all of this. I think it needs to be put together as a whole package and look at what, all, is being requested here. I think that we are not the ones who should be doing that. I think it is the committee that is going to be set up that should be doing that.

I will just put that out. That is my thinking at the moment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I think Ms Marshall (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Marshall.

MS E. MARSHALL: I will just be very quick.

My understanding was that we were going to go through each one individually and decide whether it was something that should be deferred to the committee structure or whether it was something we could change.

I know there is one there, for example, the one at the end, where a member has written and said that he has gone to represent – you know, the MHA - and he is being charged $50, I think, for a ticket to go to a social function that he was invited to. I do not think items of that nature need to be deferred to the compensation committee. That seems like something that we could almost decide ourselves here.

My preference would be for us, as a committee, to go through them one by one and decide if there were any there that were ones that we, ourselves, should make a decision on.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I have another commitment that I really have to excuse myself for.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the committee agreed that we would sit until 8:00 p.m. There is still a big book of business to do. At the last meeting we talked about probably when the House closed - and it is always difficult when the House is open, with members, with their busy schedules, sitting late and that sort of thing - that we try to identify a day that we could come in and work at kind of clearing up the book of business that we have. There is always going to be a need for a monthly meeting, but we have been trying to play catch-up here ever since November 1.

We entertain other comments.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I guess we have to meet, obviously, to go over it, but I just want to comment back on what Ms Marshall had said.

I think that we need to go through each one of these, and there may be some that we are going to outright reject. In saying that, we also need to set up the Members’ Compensation Review Committee.

I guess what we have to do is, we have to strike that committee and we also have to ask members if they have issues, because that committee needs to be struck but it needs to have a time frame. We cannot let this go and call a meeting for the next four years whenever we need them. We need to say we are going to strike the committee and ask them to review issues over the next two months, six months, twelve months, whatever we are going to do, but I do not think we have to throw everything off to the committee because there may be stuff here that we are just going to say, look, no, it does not fit the spirit of the Green report or what we are trying to accomplish, or there may be ones here that are very straightforward that fit into what we are doing and just need a decision

At some point we have to take action on the review committee and strike it with a time frame, and let members know in case there are issues that have to come in to get vetted to see what goes to the review committee; because, once it is struck, in reviews, we have to do it once per sitting, I believe, over the four years, so we are not going to be doing it and doing it and doing it.

MR. SPEAKER: Once per Assembly.

MS BURKE: Assembly, right.

We need to address that part of it, but also I think we need to go through some of these because if it is something we are not inclined to approve here because it is against the spirit of the Green report, we do not need to refer it to a committee for further assessment.

MR. SPEAKER: The only thing is, my understanding in looking and reading the Green report is that Chief Justice Green has stated quite clearly that this Commission would be struck to look at a lot of the things that he has already looked at, and to make recommendations.

The thing about it - and the Clerk can correct me if I am wrong - the committee has to be struck when the House is in session, and there is a time frame that is put forward that the committee must report within 120 days.

MS BURKE: Okay.

So, because the House is not in session now, we cannot strike this committee until the fall, unless you call the House back?

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct.

Further comments?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Well, we have to discuss it further, to be honest (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, just for the information of Minister Burke – it was before you arrived on the committee, actually - there was a memo circulated on May 5 dealing with the Members’ Compensation Review Committee. It deals with the fact that it must be done by resolution of the House, and a government minister would introduce that resolution, and it has to done once in a session. I guess we are pretty well stuck, given that the House closed a few hours ago – (inaudible) to either recall the House to do that, or else until the fall.

I think something we should remember as well, and maybe the Clerk can give us some more direction on this, someone should review - because Chief Justice Green was very explicit in some areas as to what the Members’ Compensation Review Committee shall look at. If we could have some kind of chart provided to us saying this in the act is what the MCRC will do then we are in a better position to do as we said here, look at each of these in turn. Because, if it is automatic that section 52(7) says we have to do this in MCRC, that gives us that direction. I just think, rather than us all having to go off and find that, can we get some help and assistance with that?

MR. SPEAKER: While the Green report is very clear on the committee being struck, and how it is to be struck, and the time that it reports, he has also given the Commission the ability to bring about some of those changes as well, as members know, by the fact that we would bring it back to two meetings here, it would be posted, it would be gazetted, and come back to another meeting. There is another clear path laid out where we can get where we want to go.

As Ms Michael said, when we are looking at those here and with some of the topics that we have here, some of them may not be what we want to look at. One she referred to was the reflection of what the federal government pays for mileage. We have to look at what the public service get for mileage, not what the – so, some of those kinds of things here we can take away from it. I am okay by saying we are not going to go there. It is unfair to send a committee out to do a book of work, but there are others here that we can do by following the process.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: What I was saying was not different from what Joan and Beth said. We would have to look at each one to decide, one, do we think it should even be looked at all, like the federal travel payment, and the other would be to decide whether or not - doing what Kelvin is suggesting, having a chart that shows what is under the purview of both bodies. Then, if we look at one letter and say, well, we think that is the committee, and we seem to think this is us, we have something to help us make that decision. I would not want us to do it where we get into a letter and start doing all kinds of discussion and everything and then realize, well, maybe we should not have even done that. You know, so we have a framework for making the decision about what we would deal with, us or not at all or the committee.

MR. SPEAKER: When you look at it, some of them might look very simple, like 14(6) function-event costs. When we are going to get into that we have to set parameters on what the cost is going to be, because Chief Justice Green is quite clear that we are not allowed to make donations. Not being allowed to make donations does not mean that we can go out and pay $100 for a supper and get reimbursed. Those are the kinds of things that we need to take some time and look at, set costs, set parameters so that members will be aware.

The Clerk.

CLERK: To Mr. Parson’s point, and then another comment.

Really, section 16 of the Act, the Members’ Compensation Review Committee, does not provide a lot of details of what it would do. It lists salaries, allowances, severance payments and pensions. Now, salaries are in the Act so that requires legislative amendment, and that committee would have to do them. Pensions, of course, are in another piece of legislation and that committee would have to look at those. The allowances that follow the members’ rules, while it might be helpful to have this committee do some work on it, as the Speaker says the commission does have the authority, and Green was clear. If the commission chooses to change rules it is done in an open manner, on television, through the process he suggests. So, the commission always has the authority to deal with the rules even if it cannot deal with pensions and salaries. One of the issues about the Commission is when I look at some of the topics of the rules, like numbers of trips or the inadequate intra-constituency allowances, it really ties into forty-eight members. Every district impacts another.

We have had a couple of requests here: number of trips increase - is that just for people within a certain radius? Is it just by car? Could you fly if it were quick? There are all sorts of ramifications, as we say, that you have to consider. It becomes a rather detailed piece of analysis. While we can manage it, I think with staff, we will be slow, whereas if you had this committee struck and they were full-time at it they could focus on it in the same way Green’s Commission did. They would perhaps do a more comprehensive job in a short time compared to what we could do with staff.

MR. SPEAKER: It being 8:07, we might look at trying to set another date where we can meet. If we can donate a full day and identify a day that we might be able to meet within the next month or so, maybe we can get some of this cleared from the agenda, and then give the Clerk and his staff clear direction in what we want reported on and what we need to get a greater understanding of if we are going to look at bringing about changes.

Any suggestions for a day that we can put forward where we can meet, or do you want the Clerk survey members?

MS BURKE: (Inaudible) survey members.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Would members agree that we might find that our next meeting might consist of the best part of a day so that we can deal with some of this?

Our agenda has been a bit ambitious every time that we have met and it is a job to put timeframes on it, because the items that you feel might get passed in five minutes we are spending an hour at; and rightly so. Members have a right to ask questions and to provide their thoughts and opinions.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Are we looking for a meeting just to clue up these various matters under item 14, the rule amendment, or would we look at some of the other items of business, or is it just a cleanup, I guess, of the committee, that is what I am wondering, or do we want some new materials for the meeting?

MR. SPEAKER: Me, personally, I would certainly like to see Tab 6, item 14, be the first thing that we meet on. We always seem to take members requests and leave it at the end of the meeting and it never seems to get dealt with. I would like to see – and there is nothing wrong with adding some new items, in fact we should. If we are going to meet for a day let’s put the agenda together. I think items in fact we should. If we are going to meet for a day lets put the agenda together. But I think number 14 should be the first item of business once we meet.

CLERK: We have about four other rule amendment ones, which we could try to put the whole list as they come in, one or two a week. We could try to write something up on those as well.

MR. SPEAKER: If members are in agreement with that maybe we can adjourn the meeting.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I just want to make one note before we adjourn, a sad note, that earlier this evening one of our members passed away.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

This meeting is now adjourned.