March 23, 2011                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION           No. 30

The Management Commission met at 5:30 p.m. in the House of Assembly Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to welcome our viewing audience to a regular meeting of the Management Commission of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly. We will start as we do every meeting, by first allowing members to introduce themselves. I will start with Mr. Osborne to my immediate left.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Tom Osborne, MHA for St. John's South.

MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, MHA, Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MR. RIDGLEY: Bob Ridgley, MHA, St. John's North.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, MHA, St. George's-Stephenville East, and Government House Leader.

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

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

CLERK: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk.

MS KEEFE: Marie Keefe, Clerk's Office.

MR. SPEAKER: My name is Roger Fitzgerald and by virtue of being the Speaker, being Chair of this Commission.

We will start off, first of all, by having the minutes of our regular meeting that happened on November 17. We have had a chance to read the minutes of the meeting of November 17. If there are no errors or omissions, would somebody move that the minutes be adopted as written?

MR. RIDGLEY: So moved, Mr. Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Mr. Ridgley, seconded by Ms Michael, that the minutes of November 17 be adopted.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

On motion, minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: The House of Assembly Management Commission also held two meetings on January 26 and January 27, which were held in camera. The nature of the meetings was Estimates to be put forward to the House of Assembly for the budget for the year 2011-2012. Those particular minutes will be known when the budget is presented to the House of Assembly, and when it is brought forward for the Estimates to be voted on.

However, there were a number of remuneration changes made for the election, which we know is going to take part in 2011. I think, Mr. Clerk, we should have those changes read and adopted here this afternoon.

CLERK: I do not think we need to read them out, Mr. Speaker, but as long as the minutes are adopted –


CLERK: – and confirm those, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Members have had an opportunity to look at the positions, the service, and the remuneration, and you will find that there has been an estimated increase of approximately 25 per cent for those people who run our elections for us on election day, and leading up to the election, from Returning Officers right down to the people who look after Special Ballots.

If there are no errors or omissions in the remuneration as shown, can somebody make a motion that this decision be adopted?

Moved by Ms Michael, seconded by Mr. Ridgley.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

There is no need of having a motion to do anything with the Management Commission meeting as far as having the meeting in-camera and dealing with the budget.

CLERK: (Inaudible) decisions are there.


CLERK: Our practice has been, once the Estimates are published, we will confirm the details that what is in the Estimates book is, in fact, what the Commission approved on the January 26 and January 27.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on agenda would just be a report only. Here again it is the Speaker's Report under Travel and other Special Circumstances where the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains, due to adverse weather conditions, required an overnight in Goose Bay on December 18 and December 19, in route to her district. The total expenditure for that delay, for meals and accommodations was $209.47

The next item on the agenda is Staff Professional Development for Constituency Assistants. I am going to ask the Clerk if he would be kind enough to explain this particular item. We can decide where we are going to go with it after the explanation is provided.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think Commission members will remember this issue. Constituency Assistants are eligible under the Legislature's tuition reimbursement program, but rule 24(f) also says staff professional development is an eligible expense for members and their staff under the office operations budget. There were two funds, as it were, that CAs could turn to for various professional development matters.

In November, when the Commission looked at this they asked us to go off, develop some parameters around staff professional development under rule 24(f), which simply says staff professional development, but provides no further explanation.

We have developed a draft policy which is attached to this note. Essentially, what we are doing is having a special or a self contained policy just for CAs. CAs are somewhat unique. The ordinary tuition reimbursement program, which is more designed for the public servants, is not a good fit. Their professional development can be charged to member's allocations or allowances; that is also a unique feature of CAs. So we have set up a separate policy for them, which is attached there. The essence of the policy would be if the Constituency Assistant requests certain training that would be reimbursed at the 50 per cent level, and that is comparable to the tuition reimbursement policy. If the member directed that the CA go off to undertake some training – whatever that might be – that would be at the 100 per cent level.

We have had to be very broad in what professional development could mean because there are simple one-day courses in software training and so on, or it could be in fact starting a diploma, certificate program, degree, what have you. It is very hard to define what the professional development is. We can go anywhere from the one-day course to the semester-type course that would be at a post-secondary. Essentially, 50 per cent if the CA requests the professional development, 100 per cent if the member directs that the CA do it.

That is it in a nutshell, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Any questions or commentary on the professional development for Constituency Assistants?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just commentary I guess. When I went through the document, the Professional Development Policy for Constituency Assistants and looked at 4.0 which is the Process. The "Constituency Assistants may be reimbursed for professional development under paragraph 24(f) of the Rules which states: 24. A member may claim against the office operations and supplies allowance for reimbursement to cover operational costs of operating a constituency office…" building. The only concern I had was that where that money for this was coming out of Office Operations and supplies, would there always be enough money so that a Constituency Assistant would not be in any way – inequitable towards them because it was coming out of a certain fund and would there be enough money in the fund?

I actually went through a lot of our expense accounts; I went through almost every one to see. As it stands right now, it always seems like there is enough money there so that they would be treated equitably. I did not feel that they would want to do it and then all of a sudden there was not enough money in Office Operations and they would not be able to be approved because the money was being used elsewhere. As I went through all the Office Operations under all the expense claims, it looks like we do have enough money there so that they would be treated equitably. I just want to point it out because it was one issue that I did look at. I feel comfortable with it having gone through the different expense claims and looking at the level of money that is there.

MR. SPEAKER: Any other further commentary?

Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: Just one point, Mr. Speaker. I understand what the Clerk is saying, that it is hard to define what type of learning, but I mean that section 4 is pretty good in terms of the courses outlined there. That would be such things as organizational skills, financial management, oral and written skills, and so on like that.

So I guess it would be safe to assume if you hired a constituency assistant then he or she says, by the way, I am starting my BA. Can I cover 50 per cent of that?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, under this, it would be your decision. If you thought that program of studies was of some value to you, but you are certainly not obligated to. The notion is it would be tied to improving your service as a member. It would really be your decision.

MR. RIDGLEY: Or worse again, a Bachelor of Science.

CLERK: Yes, it could be. I suppose one could argue it does put the member in a bit of a spot of making the decision. Of course, it is the member's allowance, so if it is coming out of the member's allowance, it should be the member who makes the decision.

MR. RIDGLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, would somebody make a motion that we either approve or not approve the Professional Development Policy for Constituency Assistants?

I will read the recommended minute, the action required: "Pursuant to subparagraph 20(6)(b)(ii) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission approves the Professional Development Policy for Constituency Assistants, dated March 2011.

"Pursuant to subparagraph 20(6)(b)(ii) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission approves the following amendment to the Eligibility provision of the Tuition Assistance Program for the Legislature:

"‘Employees with full-time or part-time permanent employment status or contractual employees, excluding constituency assistants, who have been employed with the Legislature for a minimum of two years are eligible for assistance under this program. Temporary employees with five or more continuous years of service are also eligible. Constituency assistants are covered under the Professional Development Policy for Constituency Assistants, March 2011.'"

It is properly moved by Mr. Ridgley, seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is the Review of Intra-Constituency Allowances. Back in the meeting of September 22 of this year, the consideration was brought to the Commission and there was a decision made to have a consultant look at allowances that needed to be changed because of the changes in boundaries of the districts that happened before the 2007 election. There were five districts that were impacted: Burgeo & La Poile, Conception Bay East & Bell Island, Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, St. Barbe, and Trinity North. The staff hired a consultant to look at the allowances that were provided to all members. All members were given an opportunity to make representation on what they needed in order to carry out their constituency work and to be compensated for the expenses incurred. As a result of that there were nine recommendations. Members have had an opportunity to review the consultant's report and I open it now for commentary, debate and approval or disapproval.


Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I said at a previous meeting that we do have a review commission. It was set up after the election in 2007. We are going to be setting it up again within six months of the next general election. I am not necessarily in agreement with all of these recommendations; I think there are some there that take away some level of accountability. I am not supportive of any of them from the simple perspective that this should be the work of the review commission. I know why it came about; unfortunately, I did not get my opinion expressed at that time; I was not at that meeting. I think that we have a review commission set up and that is the time and the place to do this; we can pass that report over to that commission. I think that we went through a very lengthy and expensive process to look at all the issues, and to do this secondary and to be sitting here again and looking at it and having another review commission in six months, I would just as soon take this report as a valid report; but not for us to make the decisions, let the review commission in a bigger picture come back to us after the next general election.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not a motion is in order. Before we make the motion, I just want to make sure that everybody is clear that Chief Justice Green's report, the House of Assembly Accountability and Integrity Act, did make a provision to have member's allowances looked at between the Member's Compensation and Review Commission reports and hence the reason why the commission had given direction because there was a request that came from certain members that they wanted their allowances looked at by a set of independent eyes and we are following the Green report in allowing this to happen. The commission is certainly at will to adopt the report and have it rejected or just have it passed to the next Member's Compensation Review Commission.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I just need to ask a question to refresh my memory. Was this issue brought to the member's committee that was set up and made this report to us? Was this issue brought to that committee?

MR. SPEAKER: Which issue?

MS MICHAEL: The issue of the districts, for example, that are requesting a change; the districts where it looks like they are being treated inequitably because there was a change to the electoral boundaries. I mean that is the bottom line. Was that issue in particular brought to the Member's Compensation Review Committee?

MR. SPEAKER: The Member's Compensation Review Commission, if I recall correctly and correct me if I am wrong, passed it right back to the commission and said instead of them dealing with it for the commission to deal with it. We thought that the only fair way for us to deal with it was to have some independent person look at it. That was the recommendation that came back from the last Member's Compensation Review Commission that was (inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Right, what I cannot remember – and I should have looked this up actually – what I cannot remember is, what was their reasoning; because I knew that is what happened and I wanted to be sure of it. What was their reasoning for putting it back to us?

MR. SPEAKER: I do not think there is any reason given other than they left it with the commission to deal with on an individual basis – when members come looking, to bring it back to a meeting and have it decided on. Mr. Clerk, correct me if I am wrong.

CLERK: I have not checked recently but I think you are right. It was probably just the volume of it all and the commission was authorized to do it so they just said let members come individually to the commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Because it was part of the mandate of that particular commission to deal with it but the commission did not deal with it.


MR. SPEAKER: What we are left with here – and I am not certainly speaking in favour of it but just again to say the reason why it was brought forward – is that there were a number of districts that changed, the geography changed, quite a bit after the last election. The Member for St. Barbe was severely disadvantaged by the number of nights that he can stay, the geography of the district, and the amount of money that he has in order to do constituency work. That was one and the other was the Member for Burgeo & La Poile who had not had any travel allotted to him. One member had, prior to the election, I think, five isolated communities. Now the Member for Fortune Bay- Cape la Hune has four. The Member for Burgeo & La Poile has three and the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune gets $49,000 in helicopter hire and the Member for Burgeo & La Poile gets $1,500 to operate on a ferry. That is the unfairness of it, and that is the reason why we thought it should be put out for people to look at, and not for us to be doing it as members but to look at it independently and see what members have. That is enough of me talking about why it was done; those are the reasons.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I wanted to say, I do not necessarily disagree with all of the recommendations, I disagree with the process. Despite the fact we had a review commission - they tossed it back to us -we are having another review commission. These issues were addressed and happened prior to the last election. We paid handsomely for that review commission to do their work. We are going to have another one come up. I think the public have spoken loud and clear over the years, and let's not lose sight of why we are here today in the Management Commission, is that they do not like the idea that we are sitting around giving ourselves more money and our own privileges and playing with the rules.

When the Green report came in and that act came in, there were parts of that act which I thought probably should not have been the way they were, but because of the public, and because of the perception, and because of all the dynamics that we have had to live through here, like it or lump it was basically the way it came out, and fair enough, that is the way the public wants it. When we did the review commission they had public hearings around the Province, and I can tell you right now there was no one up singing and dancing to say give us more money and do things differently. I just think that it goes against the grain. It goes against what we have accomplished, that after a review commission and before the next one we are sitting around doing this. In saying that, it is the process. It is not the fact that I disagree with all of these recommendations. There is one there I particularly disagree with, but generally, I have no problem with a lot of them. I totally disagree with the process that we are following here.

MR. SPEAKER: We will certainly leave it open for a motion, but, here again, I have to say that this is expenditure neutral. When you look at what has been done here with those five districts, there is not one extra cent of taxpayers' money being spent, not a nickel. I just want to make sure the public knows that.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You just made the point I was going to make, that the recommendations which relate to the sort of restructuring to bring equity to the five districts, those recommendations I would be ready to vote on. I think it is very inequitable, and it is just readjusting the money, really, because in one case, if I am not mistaken, some of the helicopter travel from one district is being moved from that district to another district, where one district lost some isolated communities and the other one had them added on. In those cases, I think it needs to be done for them. The ones that have to do particularly with the travel for those five districts, I see doing, personally, because as you said, it has nothing to do with extra money. It has to do with rearranging how the money is being spent for districts because of the change in alignment.

I agree with what Ms Burke is saying with regard to the process. It was thrown back to us, I think we have to deal with it, but I am not willing to look at recommendations that have to do with added money, for example, if those are there. When it comes to the ones that have to do with making it more equitable, those I think we should vote on, personally. Now I would have to pick out which ones those are.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, the Commission is willing to accept a motion.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, St. Barbe, and Trinity North. I would like to move acceptance of that recommendation. I do not know if I have a seconder.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael, are you making a motion that we accept Recommendation 5 of the independent summary of recommendations?

MS MICHAEL: Yes, I am.

MR. SPEAKER: It is properly moved that Recommendation 5 be accepted. Is there a seconder for that recommendation?

Seeing there is no seconder, that motion is lost.

Is there a further motion?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I would like to move Recommendation 3; it is recommended that the Districts of Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune and Burgeo & La Poile be provided with sufficient funding to allow for the cost of one round trip annually to each of the isolated communities in their districts.

MR. SPEAKER: Recommendation 3 has been moved. Is there a seconder for Recommendation 3?

MS BURKE: I have a question on it.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: My question is, if we were going to have the helicopter do the trip, why would it leave Port aux Basques and go to Grey River as opposed to leaving Burgeo and going to Grey River? At $9,200 we are paying to fly from Port aux Basques to Burgeo when you can drive to Burgeo and get the helicopter from Burgeo, I would assume. Why would you go from Port aux Basques to Ramea in a helicopter? You can get the ferry across from Burgeo. Maybe we would fly down there but why would you not fly from Burgeo over? That is my only question and I would like it clarified.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and I hear you. I think this is a discussion that has to be done - there is a greater discussion that needs to take place, whether we need a helicopter hired at all. Is it any harder to get to Gaultois as it is to get to St. Brendan's for instance?

MS BURKE: It would be more time to get over to Fogo Island than to get to Ramea.

MR. SPEAKER: Or get to Fogo Island.

MS BURKE: Maybe we can add to the recommendation that the Member for The Isles of Notre Dame also have access to helicopter travel for the same circumstances. Maybe we can also add that the member for, whatever the district of St. Brendan's is, they should also probably have access as well, just to be fair.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear you, and what has happened is that every member, the forty-eight members were given an opportunity to come with their recommendations, their needs of what they would like to see changed before the commissioner. I think there were eight or nine people who saw fit to do it. I know that every member was contacted –

MS BURKE: I need to speak to that.

MR. SPEAKER: I know that every member was contacted, or I am told that every member was contacted.

MS BURKE: Right.

MR. SPEAKER: We tried to work out a time when they would be here. There was contact made after for the second time. Those were the members who came forward and put forward their concerns.

MS BURKE: Right. Again, it goes to there is a feeling that people are not coming and asking for more based on the Green report and based on all the convictions we have had and the public trust in it. People are not necessarily comfortable coming and pleading their own cases and getting their own benefits out of it. That is why we cannot necessarily depend on individual members to come and ask for benefits for themselves. There really needs to be this overview that is neutral, that does not make individual members have to come in and ask for themselves, and that does a very fair allocation of what is going on.

To expect that individual members – and you know how that can be perceived publicly, that you are out, you are looking for this, you are looking for that and then you have your friends in there voting in for it. In all fairness, and I do not disagree with some of this, I think that there are places where people are doing ferry rides that is probably a greater distance than between Burgeo and Ramea. Now, are we going to open this up that every week we are going to come in and give more helicopter rides, or are we going to have a fair process that does not bring the members begging for more benefits for themselves?

MR. SPEAKER: We can only make judgment on those people who came forward.

MS BURKE: That is not fair.

MR. SPEAKER: Chief Justice Green clearly stated that members must have access to appropriate levels of funding in order to carry out their work. That is stated quite clearly in Chief Justice Green's report.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: In wanting to move Recommendation 3, I am only moving the recommendation which says that there be "…sufficient funding to allow for the cost of one round trip annually to each of the isolated communities in…" the district.

None of the discussion under Recommendation 3 is what I am moving. I am moving that recommendation. Then, I think, the details of that can be dealt with outside if we agree with the principle of their being one round trip annually to each of the isolated communities.

I think the important thing here is not the distance, it is the isolation and how you get to those communities. So, that principle is what I am moving. I do not think that the discussion under the recommendation is necessarily the way it has to happen in terms of where a helicopter leaves from, et cetera. These are estimates of what a cost might be. That is what is there under Recommendation 3 on page 7. It is a suggested estimation of what the cost might be. I mean, the recommendation is this recommendation, and I think it is a logical recommendation that they should have enough money to go to each of their isolated communities at least once in a year. So, that is what I am moving.


The only thing with that, and here again I just want to make sure that members know that if we are going to move Recommendation 3 and if we allow only one trip to Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, for instance, if we only allow one trip then we are taking money that was allotted for helicopter hire that this member can now use for other travel. That particular member, if we do not go and move Recommendation 5 in tandem with that, is going to be limited to just 4,000 kilometres a year that she is allowed to charge off by using her own private vehicle. We cannot do that one in isolation of the other ones, or at least in isolation of Recommendation 5 because if we do, we are taking the right for that member to be able to drive to the other – and a large district, I might add, with the lowest mileage of any other district in the Province, except for Torngat Mountains.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible) if nobody is seconding my motion, it is a moot point.

MR. SPEAKER: Being no seconder, is there a motion that we not proceed with those recommendations? Is there a motion to deal with those recommendations as put forward by the independent commissioner?

MR. RIDGLEY: (Inaudible) it may very well die on the floor tonight, but in case it does, I would just like to offer a comment with respect to what we will call the metro members, those in and around St. John's.

The commissioner with this tried to address the situation because, I guess, all of the members in and around greater St. John's do travel out to see constituents or travel to constituency events. For, I guess, the interest of the general public, I think each of us is allowed around $3,000 a year to claim in gas mileage. For the first six months of this current fiscal year, in other words from April 1, 2010 to September 1, 2010 – well, the first six months, whatever that works out to be. The total claim by all ten members in and around St. John's was $25.55. Now, the recommendation would not cost any more because, in fact, there is $30,000 budgeted, but I dare say it would probably cost more in terms of claims because the recommendation was that you could make a straight claim of so many kilometres per week.

I think the commissioner did try to address it because most of us do not claim it, it is simply, as the commissioner said, not worth it for most of us to keep track of the small number of kilometres in and around St. John's. This is not to say that it is not costing you money, but it is just not worth the trouble.

Maybe, as Minister Burke says, it is something that could be addressed in the broader scope of a members' review commission because I am not sure that there is an appetite out there for, no matter what you seem to do, well, they are taking more money. I want to put the other side of the picture out there that, in fact, members are working diligently, spending their own money, and the total claim for six months was $25.55.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there any further commentary? If not, the floor is open to have a recommendation made as to what we do with this particular report that we have summoned to have done, and we can move on to the next item of business.

MS BURKE: I call for the motion that we take this report and refer it to the Management Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that we take this report and refer it to the next review commission.

Do we have a seconder for that motion?

Seconded by Mr. Kennedy.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is letters of appeal for sixty days submission deadline. Chief Justice Green, in his report, suggested that members should file any expenses they have within a sixty-day time frame. The reason for doing that is obviously that it is fresh in everybody's mind what the expenses were, have it sent to Corporate Services and have the member reimbursed. Once a claim is submitted over sixty days, Corporate Services informs the member that the claim is over sixty days and they must get permission from the Speaker, have the Speaker sign-off on that particular claim in order to get reimbursed.

The Speaker cannot sign-off on it because it is against the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act. The only option for the Speaker is to bring it to the Commission for a vote. In this particular situation, we have two claims: one for the hon. Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace for a payment of $305. This particular $305 meets the test. It is an allowable expense. It is an expense that would have been paid for except for the time frame in submitting it.

Would somebody make a motion that we either pay or not pay the hon. member for a total expense payment of $305 that meets with the requirements of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act?

MR. RIDGLEY: Mr. Chair, (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Ridgley.


If the rules are there, I guess they need be adhered to. In this case here, there was reasoning behind it, I suppose, in that the member was moving offices and it is quite possible that things get lost in the shuffle. It is not something, personally, that I would like to see on a regular basis from any member. I suppose, like in golf, you are allowed a mulligan.

In any case, I will make the motion, Mr. Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is moved that we reimburse the hon. member for the expense that meets the requirements of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act over a sixty-day period.

Is there a seconder?

Seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

There is another appeal as well, and it comes from the hon. the Member for the District of St. John's South. Here again, for exactly the same reasons, it is a claim that was over the sixty-day period. Certainly, it has every entitlement to be reimbursed. The total payment of the expenses is $674.53.

Can somebody make a motion that we either pay or not pay this particular expense?

Moved by Ms Burke; seconded by Mr. Kennedy that we reimburse the hon. member for $674.53.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

Mr. Ridgley, in reply to your commentary, I have checked back because sometimes when we bring those reports forward we wonder if members should be encouraged to submit expenses prior to the sixty days. Yes, absolutely, they should but it has not been a problem. We have only had about – I do not know, Ms Lambe if we have had any more than five or six in the last three years that have been over sixty days, so it is not a major problem. Members are encouraged to get their expenses in on time.

Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: The constituency office has been moved from one spot to another. It is easy enough to see how it can get lost in the shuffle.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a sort of gratuitous comment because I do not think you are about to change that rule of the sixty days, but it should be said that it is only members who face this restriction. Any other dollars ever spent within government you have the fiscal year – and you have the thirty day write-back period of April in the New Year, to write back to the old.

Ms Lambe and I have talked about this a number of times. The rationale - it would appear - is that Chief Justice Green wanted the reports to be relatively current. That is why there is this requirement to file. If you spend your money in April and you choose not to seek reimbursement until February, the Treasury is not out and any civil servant could do that. I could incur an expense in April and choose not to claim it until February, eleven months later, and that is perfectly fine within the same fiscal year. This is a specific restriction only to members, just so we are aware of that.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is caucus funding, Variable and Operational Caucus Funding adjustments.

Members will remember that the Commission passed resolutions here at a Commission meeting whereby each member would receive $18,000 in variable funding, or each caucus would receive $18,000 for each member per year plus $100 per month for each member that caucus has a caucus fund.

That was done since the last election. We have not had a problem with it where we have had to go and access other funds with by-elections because there has been really only one change. One of the things that we talked about – and I think it caught some members by surprise during the budgetary debate – we have always found the money if there was a need after a by-election in order to carry on with the party that lost that particular member, and to have funding immediately given to the party that was fortunate enough to win the election.

Now, we are forced with a situation where we are going to have an election come October 11, and we may see, once the electorate speaks, that we will have to wait until after the election to see where the numbers fall. It could be our budget may not be able to compensate members with the present structure that we have in order to allow the party that comes back with fewer seats enough money to keep their full caucus funding and still reimburse the caucus that is fortunate enough to win more seats.

So we thought members should take a look at some of the options that we have put forward. We have stated them much more clearly than I am explaining them here on paper. We thought that members might want to look at – since there is a six month window here – that we may have to pay extra money; we may not be able to carry forward and allow the caucus to keep the money because the members sat with that caucus in that particular first six months.

We may want to even extend it to by-elections, but I do not think there is a need. If we do not want to touch by-elections when there is no need, we can find that money within our normal spending to compensate and not take it from the caucus as the member moving to another side. With the by-elections, it could be a fair amount of money and I think we need some direction now before the election in order to deal with that.

So, on page 2, the options are: "1. Funding adjustments will continue in accordance with" the recommendation "CM 2008-085 following by-elections, but will be effective immediately after each general election." The other option would be: "2. Funding adjustments will be effective immediately following both by-elections and general elections." The other option naturally is the status quo, but the status quo is going to probably provide us with a bill that we cannot meet within the present structure of our funding.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did read all of this very, very carefully. Just from the perspective of logic, talking to the general election first, if there are major changes after a general election in the size of a caucus, it is obvious that the larger caucus – we are talking about within the fiscal year, I understand it is budget adjustments that are happening – the caucus that becomes larger certainly deserves to have the money that is allotted for it under the regulation. For the caucus that has less, why would they be given money when they have less? Why would they continue receiving the money when they no longer have the same number of people in the offices? It is obviously based on cost. It has been worked out very, very carefully. It just makes logic to me that the regulation has to change, that we do have to make the funding adjustments. That is not an onerous thing to do. It is a paper thing to do in a lot of ways to do to the adjustment. Then why not do it for both by-elections and general elections? I know we can find the money with the by-elections because it is usually only one at a time and the money is around. I am sure it would be because you are not having major changes, but if the principle is you are getting money according to the regulation then why wouldn't you do it after both by-elections and general elections? I am open on that one, but I definitely think it has to happen after general elections.

MR. SPEAKER: The other thing we need to do, and be cognizant of the fact, is that usually at the beginning of each fiscal year the cheque is written for that full year. If we were to do it now at the end of March when our fiscal year starts the first of April, then what we would do is allot six-month funding for each caucus reflecting on the number of members that are present now and then it would be tabulated to show where members sit and the caucus they serve in after the election.

MR MICHAEL: Again, if I may speak, that makes sense because there is no reason why it has to be written in one cheque. The timing is perfect. It is six months and six months because of where our election happens, so it does make it, bookkeeping-wise, very convenient.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, a motion is in order to – we have put forward three options there as suggestions, either one of those options or a recommendation or a motion from the person who might want to make it.

A motion - Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: Just a question, Mr. Chair, not a motion.

In the decision that was made back in 2008, number 7, Funding Adjustments: When a caucus increases in number and becomes entitled to additional amounts, that increase shall be effective immediately, but when they decrease in number, that calculated reduced amount shall not take effect until the next fiscal year. Why that?

MS MICHAEL: That will not happen now.

MR. SPEAKER: That was a decision that was made by the Commission that we thought at that particular time, and I guess the election was passed and our mind was on by-elections, that it would probably be unfair to take it from that particular caucus for the remaining of that fiscal year. At the beginning of the new fiscal year, then it would change. They would be allowed to carry it for that fiscal year because, number one, the cheque was already written.

MR. RIDGLEY: I see, for the six-month thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Because it was for a year, we thought it was only fair to do it in that particular way, especially for a small caucus. At the beginning of the next fiscal year, then that funding would not be carried forward.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Would it be possible to say the advancement of the funds in an election year only be advanced for the first six months?

MR. SPEAKER: That is what we would do under Option 1 or 2, I guess. Yes, under Option 1 or 2.


MR. SPEAKER: Because of the election, it would only be advanced for this fiscal year now. Option 3, would be a decision that we have already made. Everybody would get the full amount of money that shows what their representation is now, but after the six months the caucus would not be expected to pay back that money but we would be hereby giving it to other caucuses that would have had greater numbers as well.

MS BURKE: I guess my only comment would be that any funding adjustments in the election year, anything that is - say if there is a by-election, we just had some, so we advanced but it did not change – say it had changed the picture. There were two Opposition members recently elected and that would increase theirs but would not decrease ours at this point until the next fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: For that fiscal year.

MS BURKE: Right, but maybe we could say that in an election year any funding is only advanced up until the general election and then all adjustments happen at that point. Because what would happen now is that the members who - in a by-election you could still advance for the next fiscal year but they are only getting elected leading into the next election, or very close to it. If we leave everything as is with the exception that any funding changes as a result of 2008-085 or any funding adjustments based on the election only be advanced in an election year until the date of the election. Then all adjustments are made right after the election.

MR. SPEAKER: Option 1 would be what you are thinking about.

MS BURKE: Okay, so a funding adjustment would go - if there is a by-election the party who had the seat retains the money until when?

MR. SPEAKER: Until the end of that fiscal year.

MS BURKE: Okay, so say right now the two who just recently were elected, were elected on the Opposition. They would get the money – and the election is in October. Say they were elected in April, after the fiscal year, would their funding then, if there is a switch, would that end at the general election or would they have retained that for that whole fiscal year? Do you see what I am saying?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, currently they would have it for the full fiscal year. Now that is a nuance that we did not put as one of the options. What you are suggesting is, essentially as I take it, you would not do by-elections immediately or the end of that month if there was an adjustment to be made, but in an election year you would catch-up. Any by-election that took place between April 1 and the second Tuesday in October, so to speak, you would clarify it at the end of October as well as whatever adjustments resulted from the general election.


CLERK: Yes, that is a little subtlety. I guess it is a combination, Mr. Speaker. We would do the general election adjustments at the end of October as it were, but if there had been some by-elections in that year, pre-general election, we would also make adjustments to accommodate them.

MS BURKE: At that time, yes.


MS BURKE: I guess what I am saying is that we leave 2008-085 as is, because obviously we had discussion and it led to that conclusion, but in an election year, all adjustments that year will have to be made following the general election.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Why don't we just go with Option 1?

MS BURKE: Because if someone gets elected -

MR. SPEAKER: I do not see any difference in what you are saying, what Option 1 is.

MS MICHAEL: Well I do.

MS BURKE: If someone gets elected at the end of April – say there are two by-elections at the end of April and they go to the other side and the other side retains them in the general election –


MS BURKE: The other party where they came out of will have the two extra for the whole fiscal year.

MS MICHAEL: No, but after a general election everything will change. Whether you were elected in a by-election or not, it does not matter because once the general election happens, that is the new mark for everybody who is elected. For the three caucuses, yes, the by-elections are gone then.

MS BURKE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I think it is totally covered under those options here.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, Option 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Under Option 1, or if you want to do it with by-elections too and immediately do it with by-elections, then you use Option 2.

MS BURKE: Well, I think we have looked at –

MR. RIDGLEY: I think if we just look at Mr. – sorry.

MS BURKE: I guess my comment was that if we have already debated 2008-085, we are there. We are just trying to update it rather than go back; because we can take every decision we ever made and redo it.

MS MICHAEL: No, but - excuse me, I am sorry, you were speaking.

MR. SPEAKER: No, okay.

Mr. Ridgley.


MR. RIDGLEY: If we just take Mr. Granter, for example, who was just elected, he will either be re-elected or not in October. His by-election really is down the drain.

MS MICHAEL: That is right.

MR. RIDGLEY: There are no by-elections after October.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. In the case of –

MR. RIDGLEY: Number 1 is it.

MS MICHAEL: I move Option 1.


MR. SPEAKER: If you want to use Mr. Granter, there has been no funding changed.

MR. RIDGLEY: No, but I mean had there been.

MR. SPEAKER: Had there been then it would not have –


MR. SPEAKER: Especially now, there is only a month left. The caucus that he was serving in would not get anything extra because October 1 -

MR. RIDGLEY: In any case, because October wipes out by-elections.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, and it would go over there to the other side for a month.


MR. SPEAKER: So, Option 1 seems to be exactly where we are.

MS MICHAEL: May I move Option 1, subsections of Option 1?

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the Funding Adjustments will continue in accordance with Management Commission decision CM 2008-085 following by-elections, but will be effective immediately after each general election.

Is there a seconder?

Seconded by Mr. Ridgley.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is the recommendation from the Audit Committee that the Auditor General be appointed to audit the books of the House of Assembly for the year ending March 31, 2011.

Would somebody make that motion?

Made by Ms Michael, seconded by Mr. Ridgley.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

Mr. Clerk, maybe you would lead us through the Advertising Policy for Members of the House of Assembly.

CLERK: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As members will know, there is an advertising policy for members of the House which gives some guidance for advertising, but what it tends to look at is the content of the ads, what is allowable, what is not allowable, media use, so on and so forth. We never address the co-ordination of that advertising.

As we follow government policies we are using GPA, the Government Purchasing Agency, to place the ads. Members will work up their ad, hopefully decide what they need to say, what papers to put it in and so on; but, in fact, then we have go to GPA, and GPA handles all of government's ads. They are the ones who will decide, for instance, when given a government ad: Well, what newspapers will we carry it in? That is an illogical question for a member. There is usually a local paper in the district. It is not something to decide over West Coast, Central, East Coast, if it is only dealing with constituency matters. They decide numbers of insertions, ad formats and so on. What we are suggesting here is that we amend their advertising policy such that Corporate Members' Services will take on the co-ordination role currently played by the Government Purchasing Agency. We think we can speed things up, probably by a week or so by doing that. Is it a week, Ms Lambe?

MS LAMBE: (Inaudible).

CLERK: It just simplifies matters where the members will come to Corporate Members' Services with their ads, they would handle the insertion, they would deal with the requisitions, and they would deal with the reimbursement of it as well. So GPA, in essence, is an unnecessary middleman in this process and we could simplify it, make life easier for members when they are placing their ads.

So, that is it in a nutshell, Mr. Speaker. It would mean revising the existing policy with those matters that are in the recommended minutes; so, a couple of amendments and a couple of additions to the existing policy.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

If not, the options here again are clearly listed. Number one is to amend the advertising policy for Members of the House of Assembly to provide clarity for the payment process and include guidelines for the co-ordination of advertising or to not amend the advertising policy for Members of the House of Assembly.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I move the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to move the amendment.

Is there a seconder?

Seconded by Ms Burke.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The recommended minute is: Pursuant to subparagraph 20(6)(b)(ii) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission approves the following amendments to the Advertising Policy for Members of the House of Assembly, dated June 2009:

Section 6.0: Change the title from "Reimbursement Process" to "Payment Process". Add the paragraph: "Requisitions for advertising should be submitted to Corporate and Members' Services Division which will issue the purchase order."

Then, add section 7.0: Coordination of Advertising: "The Corporate and Members' Services Division is responsible for administering this policy, including established advertising criteria for all media, for Members of the House of Assembly."

It is properly moved and seconded and adopted.

The next item on the agenda is Purchasing Policy - Under $200. Proposed amendments for the Purchasing Policy - Under $200 to be increased.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is still within Tab 7 simply separated by a yellow sheet because we had a set of ten tabs. We did not start a new set.

The Commission established in November of 2008 its own purchasing policy for small dollar items under $200. Now we had been discussing this with GPA, the Government Purchasing Agency, and we knew they were also looking at it and they were going to provide this throughout government, but it was somewhat slow to come in. We went ahead and the Commission established its own policy for under $200 and that was the threshold we established. I think that is what the Government Purchasing Agency at the time was considering.

Six months later, though, in April 2009, they did change their policy. They used $500 as a threshold. So, in fact, departments and others within the Executive Branch, the threshold is $500. Under $500 they can purchase in this manner without going to tender, getting three quotes, and so on. In fact, although we have tried to be in sync with the Executive Branch, we are now much more rigid with the $200 limit whereas departments can use $500.

So, we thought we would bring this forward to see if you wanted to keep in step with the Executive Branch to change the threshold. If we are going to change that threshold and amend the policy, there are some other changes we would need to make as well.

The current policy has a number of restrictions where you cannot apply this, let us call it, less rigorous purchasing practice. They are done in a negative fashion. We are suggesting that the two of those restrictions – and you will see this in the second last bullet. You may not use this practice to "purchase items available on Standing Offer Agreement, unless extenuating circumstances apply" or "rent a vehicle". We have adjusted those so that they are covered elsewhere in the amended policy. Since we have looked at the Advertising Policy amendments we just proposed, that restriction should also come out of section 4.1.

Perhaps I should just go through these minutes, the recommended minutes. No, perhaps go to the policy itself if you would. The revised policy is attached. It may be simpler there. If you look at 3.1 in the Principles, what we had there was in keeping with the spirit of the Public Tender Act or some such, I believe, Ms Lambe?


CLERK: Yes, now we have put in: in compliance with the Public Tender Act. So we are not relaxing anything here; we are actually making it more rigorous in terms of complying with the Public Tender Act.

On the next page, if you look over at the very bottom of 4.0, the last paragraph: "Where possible, Members should purchase items on Standing Offer Agreement"- and that is where we have covered the Standing Offer Agreement matter -"(including vehicle rentals)…" We have put them up in that section rather than in 4.1 where we had restrictions. So as a result, the only restriction left on applying this practice would be splitting purchases such that you can come under the $500 threshold. So, you cannot have $800 worth of purchases and split it to two $400 purchases to avoid that. Failing that, this would be the same as the Executive Branch applies, with the $500 threshold.

Ms Lambe, have I covered everything?


CLERK: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I just feel that we are setting up again, going down a road we do not need to go. We have it at $200. I do not think the Commission directed that we review this. It is not coming up as an issue. I do not like getting into the possibility where you can split an $800 purchase in two $400s, getting ourselves down that road again, knowing what happened, knowing what happens when we let the controls go here. I think we did not bring it forward to be reviewed, and I think that it provides a greater level of accountability which is what is being demanded of us. I think we leave it as is.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

MS MICHAEL: Just a question.

MR. SPEAKER: A question, Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Did it come forward from any of the caucus offices asking this? Because we certainly did not bring it forward. I am just wondering.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Well, with changing the Advertising Policy that was one of the reasons we looked at it. Now that there is direction under the Advertising Policy on co-ordination of the advertising, now it is in two places. It almost needs to be removed from the Purchasing Policy.

Also, there were a couple of items like with the vehicle rentals and stuff that we did not think was clear in the old policy. Mainly, those changes were from questions we were getting from members and constituency assistants. It provides clarification more than any real change. The real change is the $200 increased to the $500. Apart from that, it is more clarification, I think, than anything else.

We said: Where possible, members should purchase under the Standing Offer Agreement we had, unless extenuating circumstances apply. I guess in a sense it probably means the same thing, we just adopted more of the wording of the GPA, then we took out the reference to purchase the advertising. We had exclusion on vehicle rentals but, of course, the members' rules cover guidance on vehicle rentals. We really did not think we should be treating it the same way in this policy. That is why we brought it forward mainly, and we thought, at the same time, to give the Commission a chance to look at the $200 versus the $500 limit.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I guess it was the $200 to $500 that I was referring to. Had there been a problem that made that happen or if it is just because of the fact that it is now there for government or for the departments? I am sort of with Ms Burke, if there has been no reason to change from $200 to $500, I do not see the changing from $200 to $500. The other stuff I understand.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: I was just going to say, if the threshold is an issue we could leave it at the $200 and just try to do the other clarifications on advertising, vehicle rental and so on, and leave the $200 threshold. Does that work?

MR. SPEAKER: What I am hearing is we do not need to put that to a motion. We are just going to leave it.

CLERK: Well, if we are to amend the policy to clarify those other matters, while leaving the $200 threshold there, we would have to I guess approve the amendment. If you look at the required minutes, it would simply be deleting the suggested: "Increase the threshold amount from $200 to $500."

MS MICHAEL: That is right.


CLERK: Then we would update the attached draft policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to amend the purchasing policy under $200 – no, that would not be the one. It would be to "Amend the Purchasing Policy - Under $200 to increase the threshold amount to $500".

MS MICHAEL: No, take that out.

CLERK: No, it was in the recommended minutes, under Action Required, Mr. Speaker.

MS MICHAEL: On page 2.

CLERK: Under Action Required, at the bottom of that page, if we just deleted that dash and the line that says, "Increase the threshold amount from $200 to $500." Then we could do the other clarification amendments.

MS MICHAEL: That is all that needs to come out.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. Members have had an opportunity to read that, instead of me rereading the whole thing there. Is that what I am understanding, Ms Burke, where your motion is? Not to increase the threshold amount from $200 to $500 but to provide the other clarifications in that particular minute.


MR. SPEAKER: Moved by Ms Burke, seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is Vehicle Rentals. In this particular case it is the approval of long-term vehicle rentals for employees of the House of Assembly. I think we have only one situation where we have a long-term rental over thirty days and that would be for the election for the Chief Electoral Office. Right now, the act requires that we would have to come back to the Commission before a long-term rental is to become effective. Instead of having us coming back to the Commission to approve a long-term rental that happens once every four years, maybe with the Commission's approval, the request can come to the Clerk and the Speaker for approval or disapproval and have the approval, if done, reported at the next Commission meeting.

Is there anything further to add on that, Mr. Clerk?

CLERK: They also rent a van sometimes for by-elections. So it is not just a general election, they need it for by-elections too.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it would be for elections.

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: In a by-election, I do not think they need it for more than thirty days. Because they would not know it was coming, would they?

MR. SPEAKER: Probably not; I do not know.

MS BURKE: Unless they have some inside information, I suppose.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

MS BURKE: There might be an election.

CLERK: I do not know all the processes, but it seems to me that they have had some for by-elections. It may be, even though you do not know the precise date of the by-election, the way the Election Act works now is there is special ballot, is it, which you can actually vote - even before there is a named candidate you can vote for the party. It has to be done within ninety days of the resignation, within sixty and then the thirty. They can predict when they have to have this special ballot start. I think they have had some in it anyway, Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, a motion is in order that we approve or not approve the recommended minute.

MS MICHAEL: I move approval.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael moves the motion.

Is there a seconder?

Seconded by Ms Burke.

The minute is, "Pursuant to paragraph 20(6)(b)(ii) of the House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act, the Commission directs that long-term vehicle rentals must comply with the provisions of the Government Purchasing Agency, except that long-term rentals in excess of 30 days must have the prior approval of the Clerk and the Speaker, with such approvals to be reported at a subsequent meeting of the Commission."

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

Maybe the Clerk can lead us through the next – again, it is just for reporting purposes. I ask all members to take a minute to review the financial performance of the Legislature and the approved allocations and actual expenditures of members of the House of Assembly. Ms Lambe would certainly entertain any questions and verifications of something that might be brought forward.

Mr. Kennedy.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, if we go to 6.1.01, that appears to be the summary, does it, Ms Lambe? 6.1.01 is the summary of Total Legislature spending?

MS LAMBE: Yes, at the bottom.

MR. KENNEDY: It seems to me that the Projected Savings, whether from the Original Budget or the Operating Budget, are $2 million.


MR. KENNEDY: Which is 10 per cent of the Original Estimates for the Legislature?


MR. KENNEDY: When I go through these numbers it appears that a significant portion of this comes out of Members' Resources, with approximately $1.6 million saved in Members' Resources?

MR. SPEAKER: And Allowances.

MR. KENNEDY: Members' Resources and Allowances, correct?


MR. KENNEDY: So the overruns for the other parts of the Legislature would be approximately $400,000?

MS LAMBE: That is overall savings.

MR. KENNEDY: Savings, yes.

Now, when I go to Official Opposition Caucus, 1.1.07, there is $146,000 deficit – overrun, I guess, in this point.

MS LAMBE: Yes, that is related to severance pay for a number of employees who retired. In actual fact, we pay that outside their base and variable funding.

MR. KENNEDY: I was not here on the Commission when there was the discussion as to the funding for the caucuses, but was it agreed upon at that point that any severance or paid leave would be in addition to the budgeted amount for the caucuses?

MS LAMBE: I do not know if it was specifically addressed. That is an overall government practice that normally severance is paid out of funding in the Consolidated Fund Services in Finance. Normally, departments are not allowed to budget for severance payments. They have to go to the Department of Finance to obtain the funding.

MR. KENNEDY: So this is consistent, that is my guess.

MS LAMBE: This is consistent, yes.

MR. KENNEDY: What you are saying is it is consistent with the government policy.


MR. KENNEDY: Okay. 3.1.01 and 4.1.01 are two of our independent offices: the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Office of the Citizens' Rep are running their overruns.

MS LAMBE: Yes, the Chief Electoral Office is because of the two by-elections. They had two by-elections and -

MR. KENNEDY: We do not budget for by-elections?

MS LAMBE: We do not budget for by-elections.

MR. KENNEDY: Okay, understandable.

The Office of the Citizens' Rep; I have a concern where there is a projected overrun and yet several of the transfers here today are relating to the Citizens' Rep Office.

MS LAMBE: Within their own budget, they have transferred money in -

MR. KENNEDY: But, if they have an overrun or a deficit, how can they transfer money within their own budget?

MS LAMBE: Well, they transferred money to cover some of their overruns in one main object to another.

MR. KENNEDY: I saw one transfer that you are looking for today that relates to – it does not matter; I do not want to get into it specifically, but it would seem to me that it would be part – if it is not in the Citizens' Representative contract it is not something that should be coming to us to pay, is it?

MS LAMBE: I would have to know exactly what it is.


You flip over to ten.

MR. SPEAKER: What is the heading, Mr. Kennedy?

MR. KENNEDY: I am just going to find it for you now.

It is in section 10, Transfer to, Office of the Citizens' Representative Employee Benefits. It is a small amount of money.

CLERK: Is that transfer ending 0002 in the upper right there?

MR. KENNEDY: It is 0012.

CLERK: It is 0012.


MR. KENNEDY: It should be in his contract, shouldn't it?

MS LAMBE: The problem was they only have $2,000 funding in their Employee Benefits. It is in his contract that it is paid, but they went to a conference earlier in the year and they spent the funding that was in Employee Benefits, so we had to move money in from somewhere else to cover the Law Society fees.

MR. KENNEDY: Again, my point is if one of these independent offices is running a deficit or an overrun, a projected overrun, then why are we transferring money from other parts of the Legislature to pay for their overruns or deficits?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: The budget transfer policy allows transfers among the activities in the Legislature and normally it allows you the flexibility to provide funds to one office if another office –

MR. KENNEDY: Where is that? I know when we are transferring within departments Treasury Board approval is needed for a lot of these transfers. They are not givens. Approval requests are made. It seems to me that this is written here today, excuse me, not making requests but seeking approval of what you have already decided.

MS LAMBE: We have a budget transfer policy that was approved by the Commission and it basically mirrors the executive branch policy in regards to approvals. Most of the approvals that are required by Treasury Board are transfers into salaries or into major program areas. If you look at our budget transfer policy, really, it is totally reflective of the executive branch transfer policy.

MR. KENNEDY: Let me just find an example for you; $11,400 for a photocopier. Should they not be finding that within their own budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk maybe, for clarification?

CLERK: Yes, a couple of points before we go onto that. The Legislature is one head of expenditure like a department. It is not like Treasury Board transfers between departments.

MR. KENNEDY: No, I am talking about within departments. Treasury Board approval within departments between heads of expenditure (inaudible) –

CLERK: Only for certain things like salaries as Ms Lambe says?


CLERK: Only for certain matters does it go to Treasury Board? I mean –

MR. KENNEDY: (Inaudible) we deal with in Treasury Board. If you are going to transfer money within a head of expenditure within the department to another head of expenditure we look at the question is it savings, is it true savings, is it capital, is it going to increase the deficit, is it going to increase the debt? We look at all of that.

CLERK: What I mean to the board, they would be done by TBAs, a lot of these transfers, like it would be the staff?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CLERK: Is it?

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, that is exactly my point here.

CLERK: Yes, as Ms Lambe says, this was the policy, the same as Executive Branch. You remember when we did the Transfer Funds Policy when Ms Marshall was on; we almost mirrored the executive funds Transfer Funds Policy for Treasury Board.

MR. KENNEDY: Let me get to my point. We are into a situation where spending is always an issue. In these current economic times we are seeing now – we are not budgeting very well, whether it is as a result of us trying to comply with Green. If we are 10 per cent out of $20 million – and maybe Ms Lambe will tell me that is not unusual – but that is $1.6 million that if we do not need in the Legislature, we should not be budgeting for it.

Then, when you get monies transferred within, that is something that we do not do. You come to Treasury Board this time of year wanting $11,000 to buy a photocopier and you watch what kind of reception you will get in Treasury Board. If you are mirroring the Executive Policy, I am not sure that I would agree with that.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: The $1.6 million, of course, of the $2 million is members' Allowances and Assistance. We have talked about this at various Budget meetings. Because it is a statutory entitlement, it is in the Rules. Unless you change the Rules that money has to stay there. Every year we have this savings, but it does not mean that the Legislature as a whole does not need it. Conceivably all the members could decide to – everybody establish an office, everybody expend all their intra-constituency allowance and so on. That is why that is there every year and it is savings every year, because the members simply are not taking up all that they are entitled to.

With respect to the photocopier, we retain all those under House Administration 1.1.01 under Property, Furnishings and Equipment so that as photocopiers die or so on, we will transfer it out. None of the office's budget for things like photocopiers, we keep that all in one main object under House Administration and transfer it –

MR. KENNEDY: But, Mr. MacKenzie, when we are trying to set-up an office in my district, what you have to go through to get set-up, okay, and I am telling you now if I came to this Legislature looking for an $11,000 photocopier, it is not going to be approved. I am just wondering if they do it within their own budget – and I see there is one transfer here between the Child and Youth Advocate's Office. I still have some questions about that, but they are doing it within their budget.

When you are transferring from another budget to pay for someone else who is running an overrun or deficit, I have some difficulty with that if the intent of Chief Justice Green wanting us to review this is to ensure financial accountability and to ensure that we are properly complying with the rules. If not, independent offices, like anyone else, can run a deficit because we will pick it up. That is being discouraged throughout government.

In the recent Budget meetings we had on the Legislature, we certainly talked about that in great detail. I would suggest that what we adopted was certainly a conservative financial approach to budgeting. That is my only point here, is that I want to make sure we are applying the same principles. Quite frankly, if that $1.6 million is not needed, we should be discussing whether or not it should be left there because then it is going onto our bottom line.

CLERK: Yes, we would have to change the rules to reduce the entitlements is the problem.

MR. KENNEDY: Okay. Is there anything else, Ms Lambe? Is that the intent of what we are doing here when these transfers are brought before us, or is there an expectation that we are simply going to rubberstamp, for lack of a better term?

MR. SPEAKER: It is for reporting purposes only and it is here for the eyes of the Commission and for the Commission members to do exactly as you are doing, Mr. Kennedy: to question it, seek clarification, and provide your commentary. It is for reporting purposes only.

I might add, the Auditor General has been into the House of Assembly and I think he has had three members, Ms. Lambe? Three members from Auditor General's Office from September until December, and his report was that there was nothing to report.

MR. KENNEDY: Okay. So the Auditor General has been in, has examined everything, and he is satisfied?

MR. SPEAKER: The Auditor General has had three representatives here from the AG's Office from September to December.


MR. SPEAKER: The Auditor General's Report came forward with nothing to report on the affairs of the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: It has been done by his report and I think each member has received a copy of the report.


CLERK: Mr. Speaker, the Audit Committee will probably be, in some of their upcoming reports, talking about that.

MR. SPEAKER: I fully concur with what you are saying. It has been something that we have talked about before, but there has to be something done with the rules in order to bring about carrying forward the $1.6 million.


MR. SPEAKER: Every review that we have had and every professional service that we have hired, we funded it through members' allowances and we carried if forward every year. That is not what members' allowances were meant to do.

Is there other commentary on the reports?

MR. KENNEDY: If it is good for the Auditor General, it is fine with me.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank members and staff for staying behind for this, the third Sheila's Brush outside today, I think, and hopefully everybody will arrive home safely.

Thank you for your participation and an adjournment motion is in order.

Moved by Mr. Ridgley, seconded by Ms Burke.

This meeting is now adjourned.