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Proceedings of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations
Issue 6 - Evidence, May 7, 2009
OTTAWA, Thursday, May 7, 2009
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations met this day at 8:40 a.m. in camera for the review of statutory instruments.
Senator J. Trevor Eyton and Mr. Andrew Kania (Joint Chairs) in the chair.
(The committee resumed in public.)
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Honourable members, we require a motion to adopt the budget, as presented.
Senator Moore: I move that the budget, as presented, be adopted
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Are members agreed?
Hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): The budget, as presented, has carried unanimously.
Mr. Presley, welcome to the committee. Please proceed with your presentation.
MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS REGULATIONS PROGRAM
(For text of documents, see Appendix A, p. 6A:1)
Michael Presley, Executive Director, Regulatory Affairs Sector, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: Mr. Chairmen, I would like to introduce a colleague who is appearing with me today, Mr. Mohan Denetto, Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs. When we have our question and answer session, I might ask him to join me, if that is suitable.
Thank you for your invitation to appear before the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations to discuss the Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations and how they integrate with the federal regulatory system.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss how MARs are processed through the regulatory approval process and how valuable they are for the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. I would also like to discuss the relationship between the development of MARs and the regulatory management system administered by TBS. Finally, I will provide some information on the triage mechanism and it integrates MARs.
As you well know, MARs are used to correct errors, omissions and inconsistencies in regulations in an expeditious way. They represent an important vehicle that allows for swift consideration and approval of such regulatory amendments. TBS not only recognizes this, but it values the importance of having such a vehicle to handle such amendments to existing regulations.
For all intents and purposes, the process requirements for MARs are the minimum requirements established for regulatory submissions to Treasury Board acting as Governor-in-Council. The process used for MARs is faster and less costly than other regulatory approval processes because, first, it uses an abridged Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement, or RIAS; second, no communications plan is required; and, third, no prepublication is normally necessary, except, for example, where it is required by statute.
In order for this streamlined MARs process to be appreciated, it is likely important that I explain how other submissions are treated. That explanation should begin with a little background regarding how our current regulatory policy was established, and the considerations that led to the adoption of the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation, the CDSR.
The CDSR replaced the government's 1999 regulatory policy and came into force in April 2007. It was developed following recommendations that came out of the 2002 OECD review of Canada's regulatory reforms efforts and of the 2004 External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation, or EACSR. The External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation was established to provide external and objective advice to government through a representative group of stakeholders — business, NGOs and academics — drawing on broad national consultations.
The CDSR established a comprehensive system for federal regulatory management, containing specific requirements for the development, implementation, evaluation and review of regulations. This includes applying rigorous costs-benefit analysis, assessment of international trade impacts, minimizing overlap and duplication with provinces, minimizing administrative burden and measuring the performance of regulations over time to check if they are, in fact, working as intended.
Providing Canadians with opportunities to take part in open, meaningful and balanced consultations at all stages of the regulatory process is another cornerstone of the CDSR.
Regulatory impact assessment and consultation processes date back to the late 1970s. The current CDSR is simply the latest in a series of government directives aimed at ensuring that regulations meet the needs of Canadians.
Clearly, it would not be cost effective to place large analytical demands on regulations that do not merit it. Therefore, a triage mechanism was developed with departments to ensure that process requirements are commensurate with the impact of the regulatory proposal.
In accordance with the triage process, a more thorough analysis would be required for regulatory proposals that are classified as having a high impact — for example, ones that are controversial; that make a significant change to the status quo; that significantly affect public health or safety, the environment, business or government. Based on data, approximately 10 per cent of proposals are considered to have a high impact. In comparison, approximately 35 per cent of proposals fall in the medium category. While the analytical requirements for those are less, they still require consultations and normally prepublication in the Canada Gazette.
Based on figures, more than half of the proposals are not considered to have sufficient significance or impact on Canadians to require such analysis, consultation or prepublication.
For low-impact regulatory proposals, the sponsoring department is requested to use the low-impact RIAS template to specify only the minimal information required to explain the proposed change; namely, the issue, objective, description and contact information. This is the same template used for MARs proposals. Historically, all proposals recommended by the standing joint committee have been approved through this expedited process.
Even though, historically, MARs have used the low-impact expedited process virtually without exception, based on our experience it is important to recognize that this process is not an automatic choice. For instance, some statutes require any amendments to regulations to be prepublished, as is the case with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. In other instances, regulatory amendments must be tabled in the house. It is also possible that a change suggested by the standing joint committee for reasons related to its scrutiny criteria could have substantial policy implications, as well, that would merit consultations with Canadians.
The proposed TBS guidance was intended to alert regulatory officials to this possibility. It is with this in mind that TBS developed guidance material for departments that notes the importance of checking for such requirements with TBS before employing the MARs process.
I have tried to give you a sense today of how TBS treats MARs in the regulatory process, how this relates to overall management of the regulatory system, and how we have tried to integrate MARs into the triage to streamline regulatory processes.
I would like to close by thanking the standing joint committee for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Unlike other committees, we will not rotate questions by party because we are non- partisan. We will be fair and pick whomever wishes to ask questions. Who would like to start?
Mr. Young: Prior to starting, I would like to request a complete copy of the presentation as a follow-up. Mr. Presley said some things that were quite interesting that were sort of "between the paragraphs."
Mr. Presley: Absolutely.
Mr. Young: Does this process come out of or is it part of what is viewed in a larger context as "smart regulation"?
Mr. Presley: Yes, it is.
Mr. Young: This is the smart regulation process?
Mr. Presley: The smart regulation language started around 2004-05. The language that we have converted it into is called "streamlining" now, but it is the same logic. Through the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulations, we acted upon what the External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation proposed. Therefore, the answer is "yes."
Mr. Young: You mentioned that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is an example where amendments must be prepublished and they are in a category that would not be streamlined or part of the faster process. Is that correct?
Mr. Presley: The short answer would be "yes." With the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the statute itself dictates prepublication. It is a statutory obligation, so there is no discretion in terms of skipping that stage in that instance.
Mr. Young: What about the various acts that govern Health Canada and the review of prescription drugs? Do any of those acts dictate the same high level of scrutiny?
Mr. Presley: In terms of statutory requirement for prepublication?
Mr. Young: Yes.
Mr. Presley: At the moment, I am not aware of that requirement. The one that I can think of that is administered by Health Canada relates to the Tobacco Act. There are some exceptions created in it, but there is a statutory obligation for tabling in the house.
Mr. Young: When there is no statutory obligation, is there another process by which various parties can identify that these regulations would have a high impact on health or safety?
Mr. Presley: Yes.
Mr. Young: What is that?
Mr. Presley: The triage process that I mentioned in my opening remarks.
Would it be helpful if I gave you a brief description of how that triage process works?
Mr. Young: Thank you.
Mr. Presley: The logic behind our regulatory policy is that we want evidence-based decision making. We would like regulations to have sufficient evidence to give Canadians and the Governor-in-Council comfort that what is called for is appropriate.
We asked, for example, for what we call high-impact proposals. These are proposals that have significant economic impact. We have set some guidance for departments in terms of what types of questions to pose to understand what would be a high-impact proposal versus a medium-impact proposal.
An example of a high-impact proposal is one that has a net present value of $100 million or more on the Canadian economy and is likely to have fairly significant social or environmental health impacts. We do not have an established quantitative threshold, but we work with the departments to establish what that would be. In those instances, we would require a full cost-benefit analysis and expect a performance measurement system to be developed. We would be asking for the following evidence: that the department has thought through the trade implications in terms of any other international standards that should be brought to bear; that they have thought through the federal-provincial harmonization obligations; and that they have developed a communications plan so it is clear to Canadians what the proposal is intended to do. These are types of things we would require.
More importantly, if it is a significant proposal, we would normally require them to prepublish in Canada Gazette Part I to give pre-notification to Canadians of what the regulation will look like so that they can comment on it. Those comments would then be absorbed, and the regulation would be published in Canada Gazette Part II because it would be coming into force. That is the normal process.
As soon as Treasury Board Secretariat learns from the department of their intention to move forward with a regulation — and this could be a year and a half or two years before it comes to Treasury Board — we sit down with the department to determine, based on the triage, the analytical and engagement requirements so that they understand the road map and do not hit roadblocks at the last moment when they are trying to secure Treasury Board's agreement. It is part of our streamlining process to be predictable in terms of the requirements. This is a pilot project that we introduced only within the last two years.
I should mention that the correspondence between your general counsel and our secretary referenced excerpts from that guidance material. I should also mention that, quite correctly, your general counsel noted that we need to make improvements to the way in which we refer to the MARs process within that draft, pilot text. We will be acting to improve the language to clarify exactly how MARs works within the triage process I have just described.
MARs — and these are the proposals that come from the standing joint committee — normally do not fall into the categories of high or medium. When you wrote to us and asked me to make this appearance, we canvassed our organization. None of us could identify any instance where a standing joint committee recommendation to a department that was brought to Treasury Board required anything more than our low-impact status. That is the MARs status, in terms of an abridged RIAS, and it is very straightforward, only describing basically what the regulation does without any of the analysis that I have described. There is no requirement for a communications plan and no requirement, normally, for prepublication. That is normally how our triage process works and treats MARs.
Mr. Saxton: Can you explain the background of the Parks Canada letter and the position of the Treasury Board Secretariat?
Mr. Presley: I would be pleased to do so.
I should mention right off the top that on the issue of the correspondence between Parks Canada and your general counsel, we did not have an opportunity to see that letter in advance of it going to you. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to comment on it. I think it would have been crafted quite differently had we had a chance to provide input. It created a misperception that we had changed MARs as a result of the triage process that I described, when in fact we did not. The MARs process is the same now as it was 10 years ago. What has changed is our vocabulary.
Given that we have established that triage process of high-, medium- and low-impact proposals, we now describe proposals differently; and we describe MARs as being within the low-impact category.
I also hasten to mention that we will continue to have MARs as its own low-impact category because we want Treasury Board ministers to see, separate from other low-impact proposals, what comes from this committee. It is important for those to be highly visible to the Treasury Board ministers because of the work that you do.
Those are a couple of important points I want to make at the front end.
I do not have all the specifics with respect to the Parks Canada amendments that were being considered because we have not yet seen submissions from the departments. We only had that very early discussion around how to triage these.
Briefly, my understanding is that 14 proposed amendments were put from the standing joint committee to Parks Canada. Two of those were considered potentially to have more than a normal low impact. When our analyst worked with Parks Canada on those, one in particular appeared, at least on the surface, to affect the fishers and the fish that they could catch in one of the lakes in Gros Morne National Park.
With respect to any other regulation that is put forward by, for example, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, when you start changing catch limits, fishers need to be engaged. It affects their livelihood, their business, tourism and a lot of other things. Conventionally, we would minimally ask for some kind of consultation with affected Canadians.
In that instance, our analyst with Parks Canada paused and asked whether this was significant. Should we look at this, in the vocabulary of triage, as a medium-impact proposal where we should do some pre-consultations and perhaps even prepublish the change that is being considered? In the end, after discussions, we realized that it was not a significant impact. It was a low impact and the treatment was identical to a normal MARs.
Unfortunately, in that instance, we did not call it a MARs. Therefore, we did not give advice to Parks Canada that this should be included in our normal MARs package. It was described as a low-impact proposal. It is the very same process and the very same RIAS — no prepublication or communications plan — so the very same treatment, but a different label. The label is important because it identifies that it has come from this committee.
I hope that answers your question.
Mr. Saxton: Thank you very much.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Are there other questions?
Mr. Lee: As I understand it, the reason you are here is that Treasury Board, from the point of view of this committee, appears to have kneecapped the Parks Canada Agency in delivering an undertaking to this committee — that is, to Parliament.
You referred to a "change in vocabulary." We are dealing with law here — if you change the vocabulary, you will change the law. That is bureaucratic-speak for a change. You said that there really was not a change but that the vocabulary had changed. For us, and for the people you serve — not Canadians, but the agencies you work for — that is a change.
In fact, you have described perfectly the impact of a vocabulary change. What should have happened did not. It got blocked. The sticky-finger impact of the vocabulary change has caused our committee to ask what is going on here.
I take it from the conclusion of your remarks and answers to other questions that we do not have a problem here, that the regulatory amendment that Parks Canada Agency had agreed to can actually go through as a miscellaneous amendment. Have I got that right?
Mr. Presley: That is correct.
Mr. Lee: We really do not have a problem. All we have is the impact of the sticky-finger vocabulary change, and you will work on that to make sure that it will not happen again. Would that be a fair exhortation?
Mr. Presley: I would have described it differently, but the conclusion is the same. We will fix the guidance document to be clearer. In fact, we will return to language much like we used 10 years ago.
Mr. Lee: Do you mean the stuff we designed 15 years ago that seemed to work pretty well until you guys wanted to change the vocabulary?
I am sorry. What you have described here today is actually triple-A, good public policy, and I should not make fun of it. We are just trying to get our job done here as quickly as we can. You are here 365 days a year; we are not. We meet only once a every week or every two weeks.
Mr. Presley: I was not trying to be clever by describing the vocabulary change. What I meant was that 10 years ago, for example, had we had this same instance, we would have treated it identically. In that instance, we would have asked the same question. In an instance where it appears we are changing what fishers can catch, a change that could potentially affect their livelihood, we would normally ask — and 10 years ago we would have said — if there is a process to engage Canadians who could be affected.
Now, in the language that we have used to streamline, as I have explained, our medium-impact proposal would normally have that kind of engagement. That is what I mean by a vocabulary change. The substance of what we would intervene on has not changed at all.
Mr. Lee: Thank you very much.
I want the chairmen to note that counsel may have a comment or question in due course.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Once all the members are done, then counsel will pose questions.
Senator Dickson: I found your presentation to be on point. My question relates to trade with the United States. Considering the implications of regulations on the issue of cross-border traffic, is there a priority to address and correspond with the United States to make that process less onerous?
Mr. Presley: Yes.
Senator Dickson: When will it be finished?
Mr. Presley: If I may, I will respond in a couple of categories.
The cabinet directive on regulatory policy requires that Canada first look to identify an international standard before we set our own so that we can ensure that we do not create trade barriers, for example, within the North American continent. That is a reflex and an established requirement. To ensure that we do not create trade barriers with our regulations, that is one of the first things that is posed. I believe I mentioned that in my remarks.
More specifically, in some of the sector-specific areas of our economy where we have regulatory differences, one government initiative has been the Security and Prosperity Partnership Initiative, which came on the heels of 9/11. It has not only security issues but also commercial issues. We have a regulatory cooperation framework within that agreement whereby we are working with the United States on sector-specific differences to develop an equivalency that would eliminate those differences and enable more trade opportunity.
The Regulatory Affairs Sector of Treasury Board Secretariat is also working closely with our colleagues who do the same work in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the OMB, to ensure that our regulatory policy is the same as theirs in terms of those requirements. It is happening in a timely way because U.S. President Obama has instructed our American equivalents to design a new regulatory policy, much as we did a couple of years ago with the Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation. We have been conversing with them on that matter. We are on public record as having asked that they adopt the same practice that we have accepted of first having to justify any standard introduced in the United States that is not in compliance with international standards. Those are a couple of examples of how we have been trying to tackle the issue of regulations on cross-border traffic.
Senator Dickson: You are no doubt familiar with what I refer to as the Carleton report on the regulatory process, which was released early in 2009. Treasury Board is doing an excellent job, so do not take this comment personally. The report stated that there are many insignificant regulations. In other words, there is no true public purpose or benefit to having them. Without asking any further questions on this subject, you might wish to comment on that for me, or you can comment in writing.
Mr. Presley: I am afraid that I did not hear the document reference.
Senator Dickson: The report was prepared by a group led by Carleton University. Derek Burney was one of the co- chairs. Members of the House of Commons were involved in the preparation of the report as well. My home Province of Nova Scotia was one of the sponsors, as was TransCanada Pipelines. Many companies and governments sponsored the preparation of the report. I will ensure that you receive a copy of the report if you do not have one.
Mr. Presley: The issue is sometimes referred to as the "tyranny of small differences." That report and others have been helpful in documenting those that are most important to get after. Part of the challenge is the volume and being able to prioritize those for which you can make accomplishments quickly.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): If no other members have questions, I would ask counsel to pose questions.
Peter Bernhardt, General Counsel to the Committee: For purposes of clarification, it seems that contrary to what we were told by Parks Canada, it is not the case that only low-impact amendments agreed to between the committee and the regulation-making authority can be included in a miscellaneous amendments order. In other words, can amendments other than low-impact amendments be included?
Mr. Presley: In our experience, of the amendments that have been proposed by the standing joint committee, we cannot find any illustrations that did not fall into the low-impact category that would be categorized as a MAR. However, there could be instances, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, such as a statutory requirement for it to be tabled in the house, where it would not be a MAR. We would need to treat it, in our vocabulary in triage, as a high- impact or medium-impact proposal.
Mr. Bernhardt: Leaving those things aside, taking the case, for example, where the committee objects to the legality of a provision, and the department or other regulation-making authority agrees to revoke it, aside from those procedural concerns you mentioned such as prepublication requirements and tabling, is there any reason at that point why that would not be included?
Mr. Presley: As the department discusses it with us and with you as well when you identify how it should be managed, the only reason would be if they thought there was a policy implication that would have stakeholder impacts of the kind that I described, for example, on fishers. We would pause with them and ask: Should this be treated as a MAR, or should it be treated with some form of consultation and engagement? Should we have some analysis of that?
My point is that we cannot find any examples of where we have had to do that. Generally, the proposals coming forward have not had that impact. However, I do not want to give you the impression that we are categorical in this regard. The fact that we have not had one of those over the past 10 to 15 years that we have been doing this does not suggest that it could not happen.
Mr. Bernhardt: I would suggest for members that perhaps significance is in the eye of the beholder. From my experience over the past 20 years, I have seen probably hundreds of amendments that the committee considered significant in terms of reducing subjective discretion and eliminating ultra vires provisions that were then described in the RIAS as minor housekeeping technicalities, which is fine; that is not a problem.
There are other matters, such as removing an illegal provision. I would like to dwell on that example. You talked about having to explore policy options and considerations. If everyone agrees that the provision is illegal, that would pretty much obviate the need for policy discussion. The provision is illegal and needs to be removed. I would like to think that those would be included in the Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations.
Mr. Lee: We better get a response to that rhetorical statement.
Mr. Presley: I am in a hypothetical circumstance. I will have to answer hypothetically, and that never makes for a terribly good answer.
For example, if removing a provision based on a legal rationale leaves a gap that affects a stakeholder, we might need to pose the question: Prior to removing it immediately, should we consult on what the remedy should be and how we should fill that gap? As I mentioned a couple of times, we cannot find any examples of where we have had to do that. That is how I would respond to the question.
Mr. Lee: Mr. Presley, allow me to explain the difficulty that arises for us in that approach. If the committee clearly identifies an illegal statutory instrument or regulation, and if the committee is firm, the approach that you have suggested your department might take would likely force the committee to a disallowance. That is in the Statutory Instruments Act. The lack of recognition by Treasury Board of the disallowance procedure will push us to the disallowance procedure. We do not prepublish, but we give 30 days of notice. It is like a conveyor belt to a disallowance unless the government chooses to turn it into a debate in the house and a vote, which happens about 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the time.
I think we have to deal with this. The policy provisions are very well articulated here. I am respectfully suggesting that at some point — at the beginning, the end or the middle — those provisions ought to recognize that Parliament has built a role for itself in this regard and that your procedures should accommodate that role, if for no other reason than something that is a no-brainer ought not to go to a disallowance in the house. We should be able to accommodate it in the miscellaneous amendments procedures.
Perhaps we could leave this to further discussion. I think it remains unresolved here.
Mr. Presley: I want to acknowledge the point.
My point would be that we have had nothing but no-brainers, which is why we cannot find examples of where an exception would need to be brought to bear. I think we agree with your point. I think that is what the judgment that has been exercised has demonstrated.
Mr. Lee: Before the committee decides on a disallowance, it takes into account the problem of the potential gap left by a disallowance. If the house does disallow, we realize that there could be a gap and that it could be problematic out on Main Street in Canada. We do take that into consideration, as I am sure you do.
Mr. Presley: Yes.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Are there any other questions?
Are there any closing remarks?
Mr. Presley: No, but thank you very much for the opportunity to explain the process we use.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Thank you very much for appearing today.
Given the questioning, we will not complete the entire agenda today. Therefore, I have asked Mr. Bernhardt to pick one agenda item, and his preference is to deal with the disallowance issue.
SOR/2000-221 — REGULATIONS AMENDING THE LETTER MAIL REGULATIONS
Mr. Bernhardt: Back on March 12, the committee decided to issue a notice of disallowance of subsections 3(4) to 3(6) of the Letter Mail Regulations. These provisions establish an automatic rate increase through a formula based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year.
The committee has concluded that this formula is ultra vires. Although the application of the formula has been suspended for this year, it would again be applied after January 10, 2010. Under the Statutory Instruments Act, the committee has to give 30-days' notice of a proposed disallowance. The notice was dated March 26. This being the first meeting after the expiry of the 30-day period, the draft disallowance report was prepared and is before members this morning.
Members should also have a letter that arrived for them this morning from the minister on this subject, in which he requests that the committee defer its consideration of this matter in light of the recently released study by the independent review panel of the Canada Post Corporation.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Has a translated version been distributed?
Mr. Bernhardt: Yes.
Senator Moore: Is this the letter from Mr. Merrifield?
Mr. Bernhardt: Yes.
Senator Moore: There is no date on it.
Mr. Bernhardt: No.
Mr. Young: April 1?
Mr. Bernhardt: It came in late yesterday afternoon.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): There is a fax transmittal at the top showing yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Bernhardt: It was 4:30 p.m. and it was passed out this morning.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Has everyone had a chance to read this letter? I am just seeing this now.
Mr. Lee: I am inclined to accept the minister's request. I think the committee should be firm on the principle here. Clearly, the government and Canada Post now see that the committee's position will not change very much. I think we could delay, given that the current formula approach is not operative now; it is not governing postal rates at this time.
The minister is quite right: We can disallow in a month or two. However, Canada Post has to go through the regulatory process described by our previous witness, which takes considerably longer. We all know that postal rates are probably "high impact," if I can use his terminology.
I do not have a particular reason for not allowing this agenda item to go over to the first meeting in the fall so that we can measure the progress that the government has made in replacing it. I would really like the government to agree with us. I would like the minister to agree with our position, but that may be asking a bit too much. Maybe we should invite him to do that. We should give the minister an opportunity to stick-handle.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): Are you suggesting that the minister appear before the committee?
Mr. Lee: No. I do not mean invite him here; I mean invite him to recognize the principle taken by the committee on the calculation of the postal rates.
Mr. Young: I agree with Mr. Lee. The tone of this letter is one of cooperation, and it appears to me that the minister does understand. The letter has a very respectful tone. It indicates that there is a recommendation in this report — the strategic review that is before us — to address the issue.
I draw the attention of committee members to page 64 and a reference to stamp price increases: "An inflexible cost structure severely limits Canada Post's ability to drive efficiencies." There is also reference to the CPI formula. It also appears on page 95. It says that at a minimum, the recommendation is that the price cap formula should be no less than the full CPI. They are acting on it.
I have two concerns. One is high impact, because we do not know the impact. If this proposal were to move forward and the fees were disallowed, it would involve hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when Canada Post can hardly afford it. I realize you are not recommending that.
I would like to ensure that the minister has enough time to deal with this issue appropriately and consult the public, if he so wishes. I recommend that we bring this matter back in perhaps six months.
Mr. Saxton: I was going to say the same thing. I agree with Mr. Lee and Mr. Young. I would recommend six months for the minister to get back to us.
Mr. Kania: Are there any other comments?
Mr. Lee: I have an editorial comment. Mr. Young has made an inference that if we disallow —
Mr. Young: That would be my concern.
Mr. Lee: — it would collapse postal rates. In fact it would not, because postal rates are now being governed by another regulation — not this one. They have left this one on the books, but it is effectively suspended for one year. This is a window when we could disallow and we would not undermine the existing postal rates.
Given the cooperation of the minister and the delivery of this report, I still agree that we should allow the government time to sort it out.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Do we want to send a letter letting them know that we accept the proposal but that we will be reviewing this matter on a particular date? That way, we will keep some reasonable pressure on them.
Mr. Masse: Set some expectations.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Yes.
Can I have a proposal for a review date?
Mr. Bernhardt: Early in the fall?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Is everyone agreed that we will advise them that we will accept it but will review it again in six months? No opposition? Fine, that is what we will do.
Mr. Bernhardt: I would offer a quick point of clarification in connection with the comments concerning the regulatory process and Treasury Board. It is important to keep in mind that if the disallowance procedure runs its course, what we have is an order of Parliament that it be revoked. At that point, the regulatory process and the triage become quite irrelevant. Parliament has ordered that it be done; it must be done. We should not lose sight of that fact.
On a related point, the minister's letter talks about a difficulty in meeting a 30-day deadline because there is a 60-day prepublication period in the act. Again, I think an order of Parliament would trump any prepublication period provided for in the statute.
Even if that is not the case, the Statutory Instruments Act allows the committee in a disallowance report to give longer than 30 days if it so wishes. The committee would be perfectly free to give 60 or 75 days to allow them to go through the prepublication period.
Mr. Lee: As a matter of practical timing, I appreciate the simplicity of a six-month window, but could we pick a date in October? It might be five months or some other date. If you push it off too far, who knows what we will end up with in the fall.
Could we pick a date in mid-October when counsel would be free to report or put the matter back on the agenda?
Mr. Bernhardt: I am guessing as to when the committee will start to meet again in the fall.
Mr. Lee: Sometime after Thanksgiving.
Mr. Masse: What if we just said, "When the house returns"? Keep it simple, with no dates.
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): The House of Commons and the Senate.
Mr. Masse: Yes.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): October 22 is the next meeting in the fall.
Mr. Bernhardt: That would be the closest to Thanksgiving.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): We will just use that date.
Senator Moore: What will happen by October 22?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): We will review it and expect a progress report by that date.
Senator Moore: From the minister?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Yes.
Senator Moore: As a result of our deliberations today, we will write him, pointing out those facts. We will not request an indication from him that he agrees with the committee's position now. We will wait and see what he comes up with by October 22; is that right?
Mr. Bernhardt: At that time, the committee hopes to see significant progress in resolving its concerns.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): Do committee members have other issues to raise at this time?
The Joint Chair (Senator Eyton): I want to report to the committee that a steering committee meeting was held earlier this week. Discussions in and around relocation, reporting and accountability responsibilities continue between our counsel and the Library of Parliament. The steering committee told our counsel that he has our strong support. Unless the Library of Parliament can clearly demonstrate the benefits of a move and accommodate the legitimate requirements of our counsel and staff, we are inclined to say no. You will receive further reports.
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): The only other thing I will report is that the chairmen both received letters on the Fish Inspection Regulations. They have been translated, and we will discuss them at the next meeting.
Senator Moore: When is the next meeting?
The Joint Chair (Mr. Kania): It will be held on May 28.
(The committee adjourned.)