Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic: May 27, 2020

Date: May 27, 2020

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Easing of restrictions and planning a safe return to the workplace

Context

A large proportion of the public service has transitioned to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government offices remain open and have been maintained for essential and critical workers to support Government of Canada efforts nationally. This situation is now evolving as some key service functions are incrementally increasing their presence in offices while remaining guided by regional public health agencies.

Suggested response

If pressed on Government building HVAC systems spreading COVID-19:

Background

PSPC continues to expand its body of guidance to departments to support them in their plans for increased occupancy of workplaces.

Workplace resumption plans are being elaborated based on the client’s nature of work, the functions to support services provided to Canadians, and the current configurations of workplaces. The implementation of key practices include physical distancing for workstations, gathering rooms, and pathways for circulation within the work areas along with enhanced sanitation measures for workers including hand sanitizer and wipes for workspaces supported by guidelines recommended by the public health authorities Further, as other key employment infrastructure elements progressively resume, such as small businesses, schools and daycares, progressive back to work strategies will continue to require balancing office work with teleworking, sustaining and improving network infrastructure and bandwidth, and providing employees with access to mobility tools such as laptops, screens, mobile phones and virtual collaboration platforms to ensure continued program delivery.

Next steps

The department continues its engagement with central agencies, clients and our bargaining agents to collaborate on guidance. PSPC will also continue to advance procedures to ensure healthy and productive work environments for the resumption of occupancy in our buildings as guidance evolves.

Media article on the spread of COVID-19 through ventilation systems

A National Post article referenced a Chinese study that was done on individuals who contracted COVID-19 while at a restaurant. The restaurant had a wall mounted air conditioning unit above a table with infected individuals that was blowing high velocity air into the rest of the restaurant.

Such high velocity air could transport and spread droplets that are released by infected individuals near the air conditioning unit beyond a 2 meter area of physical distancing. The mode of transmission for infection in this case is droplet spread that was influenced by the high velocity air from the wall mounted air conditioning unit.

Unlike the air conditioning system referenced in the Chinese study, the HVAC system(s) in PSPC buildings are centrally located and do not distribute air into the occupied zone at high velocity. The air that is distributed into the occupied spaces by the central HVAC system(s) promotes appropriate air circulation and removal of fine particles that are suspended in the air.

In response to COVID-19, PSPC has implemented the following additional HVAC measures to enhance occupant wellness in our buildings.

These measures are in keeping with industry guidance and consultation with Health Canada.

National Capital Region bridges

Context

Budget 2019 provided funding to replace the Alexandra Bridge, to refresh studies on a 6th crossing, to develop a long-term integrated interprovincial crossing plan and to support rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of existing National Capital Region (NCR) crossings.

Suggested response

If pressed on a 6th crossing:

If pressed on replacing the Alexandra Bridge:

If pressed on the program of work:

If pressed on the long-term integrated interprovincial crossings plan:

To ensure success of the crossings plan, the National Capital Commission amended content of the initial tender based on comments received from stakeholders and re-launched the request for proposals for the long-term integrated Interprovincial Plan. A contract was awarded in Spring 2020 and work is progressing well

Background

There are five crossings in the National Capital Region. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) manages and operates Alexandra Bridge (built in 1900), Chaudière Crossing (portions built in 1828, and Union Bridge built in 1919) and Macdonald-Cartier Bridge (built in 1965). The National Capital Commission (NCC) manages and operates the Champlain Bridge and the Portage Bridge.

The five crossings are currently at full capacity at peak travel periods (average daily traffic on all crossings: 187,000 vehicles daily; 9,000 using active transportation). Transportation studies conducted over the last ten years have consistently shown that the existing Ottawa River crossings and connecting roadways are at full capacity during morning and evening peak travel times.

Alexandra Bridge condition

A 2017 third-party Life-Cycle Cost Assessment concluded that replacing the 118-year-old Alexandra Bridge is the most cost-effective alternative, as it will have reached the end of its life span within the next ten years. A recent structural evaluation of the bridge (completed in March 2020) revealed that due to the deterioration of several bridge members, load restrictions were required. A recent inspection revealed that certain of those bridge members required urgent temporary repair, requiring the closure of the bridge to vehicular traffic until the repairs were completed on May 24, 2020. Other repair projects are planned and will be completed to ensure the bridge remains safe and accessible for pedestrians and cyclists until its replacement.

Sixth crossing

Budget 2019 announced that the Government of Canada will address the ongoing need for a 6th interprovincial crossing in the NCR. PSPC is currently working with the NCC to refresh studies. A 6th crossing would help to reduce congestion, improve fluidity and increase transportation options throughout the region.

Long Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan

Budget 2019 also announced that PSPC would be working with NCC to develop a Long Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan. The result of this Plan will be a long-term strategy with a vision and approaches for all parties to build on past successes and move forward to meet new and emerging challenges. The Plan will set long-term targets as well as provide options on how we may achieve the vision, and address the following:

Timing

We are at the preliminary phases of Alexandra Bridge replacement and the Sixth Crossing projects:

Other bridge projects

In addition to the studies and projects listed above, the government will support the rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of NCR crossings, including the Alexandra Bridge, Chaudière Crossing and Macdonald-Cartier bridge, by providing up to $80.4 million over 10 years.

Energy Services Acquisition Program

Context

On June 4, 2019, the Government of Canada announced that on May 31, 2019 it entered into a contract with a Public-Private Partner (P3) for the modernization of the district energy system in the National Capital Region (NCR). Innovate Energy will complete the design and construction by 2025 and will operate the system until 2055.

Suggested response

If pressed on timelines and budget:

Background

As the federal authority for real property, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is responsible for the delivery of essential heating services to 80 federal buildings in the NCR and cooling services to 67 of these buildings, including mission-critical sites within the Parliamentary Precinct. As such, PSPC operates five central heating and cooling plants (CHCPs) which were designed and built from 1916 to 1971.

In 2009, Energy Services Acquisition Program (ESAP) was established to explore potential new business models for the provision of energy services in the NCR. In 2018, PSPC issued a request for proposal for the modernization of the heating and cooling energy service capability.

Budget 2016 reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to modernizing the delivery of heating and cooling services by implementing more efficient technologies. This will reduce both long-term costs for Canada and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, the new technology will enable Canada to explore the feasibility of using alternative “low or no carbon” sources of energy, the adoption of which could further reduce GHG emissions.

For this project, Canada selected Innovate Energy through competitive tender, to be the Private Partner that will deliver a technologically superior and efficient solution on time and in a manner that ensures the best value for Canadians.

The contract is valued at $2.6 billion and is broken down into two parts. The first, valued at $1.1 billion, is for the design and construction of the new system, to be completed by 2025. The second portion is for the operation and maintenance, which includes energy and fuel costs, of the new system over a 35 year period, valued at $1.5 billion.

Design has been initiated, construction began in May 2020 and is expected to end in October 2025. At present, the Phase I modernization project is on time and on budget despite the fact that work started one month later than planned due to the COVID-19 Ontario ban on construction. The project is expected to reduce operating costs for the Government of Canada over the 35 year life of the operations and maintenance contract. Precise cost savings will be recalculated once Phase II determines greener sources of energy for the District Energy System and after the Phase I construction period is completed.

Canada has taken all steps necessary to ensure that the procurement process for the Project was open, fair and transparent. The public private partnership contract with Innovate Energy was finalized in May 2019.

Due to the modernization of the NCR heating and cooling plants under ESAP, several plant employees’ services are no longer required due to discontinuance of their particular functions.

PSPC is following the guidelines outlined in the Work Force Adjustment (WFA) agreement and will support all employees through their transition to new roles emerging within the service management areas.

Each employee will have the support of their union and human resource services in PSPC to ensure that they have all the information necessary to understand their available options based on their career objectives and specific circumstances.

Developing long-term employment opportunities for people in the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Context

A new contract was awarded on April 1 to allow participants involved in the Paper Sorting Services contract, a sub-component of the Government of Canada’s Paper Save program, to continue employment following the end of Employment and Social Development Canada’s contract with the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities. The new contract is for the sorting of surplus office supplies to divert items from landfills.

Due to COVID-19, this work was suspended, but ongoing efforts are being made to ensure work will be ready for participants once operations can safely resume.

Suggested response

If pressed on whether or not participants are being paid:

Background

Public Services Procurement Canada (PSPC) is leading in the placement of participants. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) assumed the contract with the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD) for paper sorting from Library and Archives Canada in March 2015. The original three-year contract allowed for two optional one-year extensions that would allow the contract to continue until March 2020.

Under this contract, OCAPDD ran the paper sorting services as a sheltered workshop. Participants in their program received a nominal payment of $1.20 an hour to sort the paper in a supported environment made up solely of persons with developmental disabilities.

In the past, paper was sorted by quality prior to recycling because higher quality paper fetched a higher price on the recycling market. Changes in technology and a decline in the market for recycled paper has negated the financial benefits of sorting prior to recycling.

Since June 2019, the Government has been working with OCAPDD to seek suitable opportunities for participants from the paper sorting program in government departments located in Tunney’s Pasture.

On February 28, PSPC officials met with OCAPDD to propose a new work stream for participants. As part of the decommissioning of surplus office materials within Place du Portage, Phase III, a waste diversion program is underway. The new work stream would see OCAPDD participants sort surplus office waste such as binders, small electronics, staplers, and hanging folders. These items were once office staples and have become obsolete with shifts toward digitization and paperless/paper-light work environments. This work will allow for these items to be re-used, sold (via GCSurplus should items have a re-sale value), donated, recycled or become waste only as a last resort. To date, the decommissioning of surplus office materials within Place du Portage, Phase III has exceeded its target with more than 98% waste being diverted from landfill.

A one-year pilot of this new work stream is currently underway, during which its longer-term viability will be evaluated.

Rehabilitation of the Supreme Court of Canada and the West Memorial buildings

Context

From 2019 to 2023, the West Memorial Building (WMB) will undergo rehabilitation in order to meet the standards of the National Building Code of Canada.

Once rehabilitation is complete, the WMB will temporarily accommodate occupants of the Supreme Court of Canada Building (SCCB) from 2023 to 2028, as the SCCB undergoes its own rehabilitation.

Suggested response

If pressed on current building conditions:

Background

The West Memorial Building has been vacant since 2008 and requires major rehabilitation in order to meet the standards of the National Building Code of Canada. Work began in fall 2019 and will include upgrades to meet current building standards for sustainability, health and safety, and accessibility, while at the same time conserving its heritage character.

The selection of the West Memorial Building for rehabilitation makes sense as it will allow a vacant classified federal heritage building, within the downtown Ottawa area to return to the active federal real estate portfolio.

From 2019 to 2023, the West Memorial Building will undergo its rehabilitation. It will serve as an interim space for occupants of the SCCB from 2023 to 2028 The SCCB rehabilitation will take place from 2023-2028 once the occupants have moved into the WMB.

The contract award to Ellis Don Corporation for construction management services was announced on October 26, 2018, and the contract to Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. for design and architectural services was announced on February 23, 2018, for the West Memorial Building rehabilitation project.

 

Demolition started in October around the site. A City of Ottawa permit was received and construction started in April 2020. COVID-19 pandemic situation has had minimal impact on the project schedule.

Canada Post Corporation 2019 Annual Report

Context

On May 20, 2020, Canada Post Corporation released its 2019 financial results and recorded a loss before tax of $153 million.

Suggested response

If pressed on the $153 million recorded loss before taxes:

Background

Key results for the Canada Post segment in 2019 compared to 2018:

Rehabilitation of National Capital Commission assets including 24 Sussex and Harrington Lake

Context

The Official Residences of Canada: Asset Portfolio Condition Report, identified a requirement for a one-time injection of $83 million over 10 years to address the deferred maintenance deficit for all six official residences and ensure that the official residences meet universal accessibility and sustainability requirements.

Suggested response

If pressed on Harrington Lake rehabilitation costs:

If pressed on the NCC’s Asset Portfolio Condition Report:

Background

On October 16, 2018, the NCC released the Official Residences of Canada: Asset Portfolio Condition Report, which found that 24 Sussex Drive was in “critical” condition. The report identified a requirement for a one-time injection of $83 million over 10 years to address the deferred maintenance deficit for all six official residences, and a further $24.6 million annually for ongoing maintenance, repairs and renovations. The implementation of this 10-year recapitalization plan would also need to consider the investment required to ensure that the official residences meet universal accessibility and sustainability requirements, as well as escalation.

Over the last decade, the NCC has completed significant work at 24 Sussex including the rehabilitation of chimneys and fireplaces, fire compartmentalization, stabilization of the escarpment at the back and west sides of the property and the removal of hazardous materials from the main building. However, it has not been able to proceed with the extensive rehabilitation of the residence and has been limited to completing work on the repairs relating to health and safety that were urgently required.

As 24 Sussex Drive has not seen significant investment in over 60 years, the additional work required would include the rehabilitation of the building envelope, mechanical and electrical systems, all buildings on the site would require extensive recapitalization and NCC would need prolonged access to the residence.

Construction activities on the main residence would allow for the abatement of hazardous materials, retention of certain heritage components, improvement in the building envelope, replacement of mechanical and electrical systems, construction of universally accessible entrances and washrooms, creation of dining facilities and support spaces to accommodate state functions.

Harrington Lake

While the Main Cottage at Harrington Lake is 95 years old, most of the buildings were built between 1850 and 1925.  Harrington Lake, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, is used for both official and private functions, with buildings that can accommodate official business as well as state visits.

Harrington Lake last saw major capital investment during the 1950s (over 60 years ago); the property has not seen any investment since 2005, when the NCC made critical repairs to the roofing, eavestroughs, piping, electrical, mechanical and structural systems of the property. The Harrington Lake property was deemed to be in critical condition in the NCC’s 2018 Official Residences of Canada: Asset Portfolio Condition Report (see pages 38 to 43).

Official Residences of Canada: Asset Portfolio Condition Report

In 2017, the NCC commissioned in-depth building condition reports for the largest and most complex buildings in the portfolio. These reports found that 58% of the assets in the Official Residences portfolio were considered to be in ‘Poor’ to ‘Critical’ condition, including half of the main Official Residences (24 Sussex and Harrington Lake main cottage are in critical condition while the Farm is in poor condition). The complete report, Official Residences of Canada Asset Portfolio Condition Report, was endorsed by the NCC Board of Directors in April 2018 and publicly released in October 2018.

The report reflects an in-depth analysis of the Official Residences Asset Portfolio and highlights the shortfall in funding required to restore and maintain these heritage buildings

Phoenix overall queue and backlog decrease

Context

This note focuses on the ongoing reduction of the overall queue and backlog, implementation of collective agreements, taxes, overpayments and underpayments.

All questions related to Next Generation pay solution should be directed to the President of the Treasury Board.

Suggested response

If pressed on overpayments:

If pressed on taxes:

Background

Queue and backlog

In total, as of April 29, 2020, there are approximately 322,000 transactions ready to be processed at the Pay Centre, including 149,000 with financial impact beyond the normal workload.

As of April 29, 2020, the overall queue of transactions waiting to be processed has decreased by 48% since January 2018, representing a reduction of 301,000 transactions (from 633,000 to 332,000)

Over the same period of time, the backlog of transactions with financial implications has decreased by 61%, representing a reduction of 235,000 transactions (from 384,000 to 149,000).

2020 tax-filing season

The 2019 Year-End Tax plan includes clear direction on robust testing, completion of dry runs, quality and integrity verification of data, implementation of the tax updates, as well as communication of year-end information to the Compensation community and employees. Tax slips for 2019 were released to federal employees on a staggered schedule by the legislated deadline of the end of February 2020.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) continues to actively work with departments and agencies to communicate with employees who may receive amended tax slips because of outstanding issues with their pay file.

The total volume of amended tax slips for 2018 was significantly lower than in the previous year. As of January 2020, there were approximately 40,000 amended tax slips produced for 2018 compared to 213,000 for 2017.

Under current legislation, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) ceased to automatically review amended T4s for 2016 in January 2020. Employees will need to request reassessments, which CRA has agreed to facilitate. Communications for employees were sent and more are being developed.

Overpayments

As of December 5, 2019, it is estimated that just over 98,200 individuals potentially owe the government money as a result of an overpayment.

As the Phoenix pay system cannot segregate true overpayments from administrative overpayments, it is not possible to accurately provide specific figures for true overpayment, which represent money owed to the government.

Administrative overpayments are part of the system’s design and are not a technical issue. They have no impact on employees considering that refunds are automatically generated and netted out in the next pay period. Administrative overpayments are created to ensure employees receive the pay to which they are entitled.

In recognition of extraordinary challenges due to the backlog, recovery of most overpayment balances will not begin until all of the employee’s outstanding pay transactions have been processed; the employee has received three consecutive accurate pays; and the employee has indicated their preferred repayment option.

To note, these flexibilities do not apply to routine operations – for example, Leave Without Pay (LWOP) of five consecutive days or less is recovered from first available funds.

It is important to note that when PSPC reports a balance of overpayments, the figure includes both true overpayments and administrative overpayments. True overpayments represent employees receiving pay that they are not entitled to, whereas administrative overpayments are part of the system’s design and have no impact on employees.

Underpayments

Employees who have been underpaid can request emergency salary advances or priority payments from their departments.

Unpaid amounts owed to employees can be related to several factors. They can result from regular pay transactions such as overtime and acting pay that are not yet processed or due to errors.

Underpayments are not automatically tracked in the Phoenix pay system because it is impossible to obtain these figures accurately until all backlogged pay related transactions are processed by compensation advisors.

Collective agreement implementation – 2014 and 2018 contracts

With regard to the 2014 round, there are currently 126 Treasury Board Secretariat and separate employer’s agreements and salary rate updates that have been processed, representing more than $2.4 billion in payments to employees.

To ensure retroactive payment amounts are accurate, PSPC is conducting a manual review of almost 180,000 accounts. This manual work is on track to be completed in Fall 2020.

In August 2019, the first of the 2018 round of collective agreements were signed. The implementation of a number of these collective agreements is underway.

Lessons learned from the implementation of the 2014 round of bargaining allowed PSPC to collaborate with departments and agencies, and bargaining agents to simplify processes, improve accuracy of payment and reduce the need for manual work.

We expect that only 5% of the 2018 round of collective agreement transactions will need manual intervention, resulting in a reduction of hundreds of thousands of manual transactions.

In comparison, the 2014 round required compensation advisors to manually process and validate more than 60% of collective agreement transactions.

The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) is responsible for engagement with PSPC, employees and unions on collective and compensation agreements. PSPC is working with TBS to identify options that will ensure the next round of collective agreements is processed in an efficient and timely manner.

Phoenix IBM and systems upgrades

Context

This note focuses on vendor support on the Phoenix file (IBM / Innovation Challenge) as well as the Phoenix pay system software upgrade (PeopleSoft 9.2).

Note: All questions related to Next Generation pay solution should be directed to the President of the Treasury Board

Suggested response

If pressed on the invitation to qualify for pay system in-service support / Application Managed Services Contract:

If pressed on the upgrade to the Phoenix system:

Background

IBM contract and amendments

In June 2011, IBM was awarded the contract for the new Pay System through an open and transparent bidding process. Since then, there have been 48 amendments to the original contract, for a total contract value of $447.4M (taxes included). Amendments are a regular part of the contract management process and were anticipated at the time of contract award.

The most recent amendment was issued in March 2020, and was required to exercise options for software maintenance and to continue support services essential for pay stabilization and PeopleSoft version 9.2.

In service support – Re-procurement

The current Application Managed Service Contract with IBM Canada Ltd. will end on March 31, 2021. It has an option year until March 31, 2022, which provides the Government of Canada a transition period towards a future state.

Application Managed Services is an outcomes-based agreement where the contractor is responsible for delivering services based on our requirements, and ensuring the Government of Canada receives what it needs for a fixed price.

On May 8, 2020, PSPC issued an invitation to qualify (ITQ) on BuyandSell.gc.ca to qualify suppliers interested in providing the Application Managed Services for 24/7 operational (functional and technical) support for pay, once the current contract with IBM Canada Limited ends. An independent fairness monitor has been engaged to observe and report on the procurement process to ensure its integrity.

We will need to rely on Phoenix until we are ready to transition to a new pay system, which could take a few years. The backlog of existing pay issues must also be addressed to allow for a smooth transition to any new pay system. This is the main reason why the Government of Canada is still investing in Phoenix— so that employees continue to be supported and to ensure that we are well prepared to transition to a new pay system when the time comes.

Notice of proposed procurement

PSPC launched a procurement process in August 2018 to engage the private sector in innovative solutions to help stabilize the pay system.

Industry has been consulted in several areas identified as key to reaching stabilization. These are: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), HR Processes, Lowering the Queue, Improving User Experience, Enhanced User Access Management, Training, and Accelerator Services.

Phoenix system upgrade (PeopleSoft 9.2)

The upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 will ensure that PSPC continues to receive software patches, fixes, and tax rate updates that Phoenix requires to generate payroll accurately.

The PeopleSoft 9.2 upgrade consists of implementing a new version of the PeopleSoft application with limited impact and disruption to operations and users. The scope of the project is limited to the pay system (Phoenix) and does not include upgrading the departmental HR Systems. Extensive testing is currently being performed with departments and agencies to ensure that employees’ pay is not impacted when the upgrade is launched.

PSPC estimates that the overall upgrade is expected to take approximately 24 months (including the planning phase) with a target go live in spring 2021. Through Budget 2018, the Department has secured $22.1 million in funding for the upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2.

Defence and Marine Procurement: General accomplishments

Context

Suggested responses and background information is provided on defence and marine procurement accomplishments.

Note: Questions on defence procurement delays or Department of National Defence (DND) order paper questions should be directed to the Minister of National Defence.

Suggested response

This includes:

Background

Major progress on defence and marine procurements over the last 18-months include:

Design Selection for canadian surface combatant: Acquisition of 360 light armoured vehicles: Release of the request for proposals for the Future Fighter Capability Project: Two Transport Canada ferries to be built at Chantier Davie: Selection of a third Canadian Shipyard under the National Shipbuilding Strategy to build six Program Icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard: 16 Multi-Purpose Vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard to be built at Vancouver Shipyards: 7th and 8th Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships for the Coast Guard: Resequencing of the Non-Combat Package: Acquisition and conversion of three medium icebreakers for the Canadian Coast Guard invitation to qualify for the Future Aircrew Training Program: invitation to qualify for the Victoria-class in-service support contract II: invitation to qualify for remotely piloted aircraft systems: invitation to qualify for Logistics Vehicle Modernization Project: Delivery of Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels: Halifax-class Frigates work period contracts awarded:

If pressed on delays in defence procurement projects:

Status of defence procurement projects

Context

Due to COVID-19, several defence procurement projects have halted or slowed, including the construction and maintenance of ships.

Suggested response

If pressed on the budget, delays and impact:

If pressed on the third yard:

If pressed on the Polar Icebreaker:

If pressed on the Future Fighter Capability Program:

If pressed on ‘excusable delay’ requests:

Background

In response to COVID-19, Irving Shipbuilding Inc. (ISI) has suspended most industrial operations, production at Vancouver Shipyards (VSY) remains ongoing and the Province of Quebec has declared Chantier Davie an essential service.

ISI suspended most industrial operations as of March 20, 2020. The initial 3-week pause has since been extended. The suspension impacts about 1,100 employees, while special measures for working from home or within ISI’s offices have been implemented for remaining employees. Design work for the canadian surface combatant continues through the suspension, along with limited work for the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships.

Operations at VSY continue but are being closely monitored. White collar workers not in direct support of production are working from home, while other measures being taken include following self-isolation guidelines, additional social distancing measures, cancelling large gatherings and increased cleaning. VSY has been working closely with WorkSafeBC in implementing these practices, and adjusting and escalating actions in response to new regulations and guidance.

On March 24, 2020, in response to COVID-19, the Quebec Government published a list of essential industrial sectors, under which Chantier Davie qualified. Chantier Davie has conducted on-site training for dealing with COVID-19, implemented a set of strict directives, and negotiated with their union to maintain intact squads instead of rotating employees through different teams. Nonetheless the workforce numbers and capacity have diminished to accommodate the social distancing measures implemented.

A number of Canadian defence suppliers have reached out to government officials identifying the need for urgent support, as they are experiencing serious cash flow difficulties resulting from reduced activities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. In collaboration with other government organizations and central agencies, Public Services and Procurement Canada is currently exploring measures to support the defence industry.

Future Fighter Capability Project

Context

As part of the Government of Canada’s reaffirmed commitment to invest in Canada’s military, as announced in the 2017 Defence Policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, the Government launched an open and transparent competition in December 2017 to permanently replace Canada’s fighter fleet with 88 advanced jets—the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).

Notes:

Suggested response

If pressed on which supplier requested an extension:

Background

In June 2017, Canada’s Defence Policy confirmed a fleet size of 88 advanced fighter aircraft to replace the current CF-18s. The Government launched a procurement process for the future fighter aircraft in December 2017. Officials conducted extensive industry engagement with suppliers to maximize the likelihood that Canada receives competitive proposals, and with Canadian industry to ensure that they are well positioned to participate in the procurement. 

In November 2018, France-Dassault Aviation officially withdrew from the competitive process.

In July 2019, the request for proposal was shared with the eligible suppliers.

In August 2019, UK-Airbus also withdrew from the competition.

On October 4, 2019, Canada received Preliminary Security Offers from the remaining three eligible suppliers, outlining how the suppliers intend to meet Canada’s security and interoperability requirements. Canada has completed the First Security Acceptability Assessment on the offers and provided significant feedback to suppliers on January 31, 2020. The feedback will help suppliers to understand the scope of information that is required in their proposals in order to submit an acceptable security offer to Canada.

Next steps

A dialogue phase may be conducted with two or more compliant bidders in 2021 so they can address, in revised proposals, any gaps and risks that are identified during the evaluation phase. Canada will finalize the contract terms with the preferred bidder prior to contract award anticipated in 2022.

Plans are being developed to proceed with proposal evaluations during a pandemic while minimizing any impact to the project schedule.

National Shipbuilding Strategy

Context

The National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is a long-term commitment to renew the vessel fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), create a sustainable marine sector, and generate economic benefits for Canadians.

Suggested response

Progress on current work

Third yard

Opportunities for other yards: Chantier Davie

If pressed on the Polar Icebreaker:

If pressed on Interim Icebreaker Capacity for Canadian Coast Guard:

If pressed on Joint Support Ships:

Note: Questions related to the budget for the project and technical requirements (including the design requirements) should be referred to the Minister of National Defence.

Background

Contracts under the National Shipbuilding Strategy

From 2012 to the end of 2019, the Government signed approximately $13.78 billion in new NSS contracts throughout the country. These contracts are estimated to contribute over $17.04 billion ($1.54 billion annually) to GDP, and create or maintain more than 15,521 jobs annually, through the marine industry and its Canadian suppliers between 2012 and 2022.

NSS Contracts Awarded 2012: End of 2019
ISI VSY Davie Other Shipyards/ Companies
$4.74 billion $1.84 billion $2.05 billion $5.14 billion
Project budgets and delivery dates
Vessel Delivery Date Budget
Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (OFSV) 1 June 27, 2019 $687 million
OFSV 2 November 29, 2019
OFSV 3 Summer 2020
Joint Support Ship (JSS) 1 2023 $3.4 billion (under review)
JSS 2 Fall 2025
Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (OOSV) Spring 2024 $331 million (under review)
Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) 1 Spring 2020 AOPS 1 to 6 $4.3 billion
AOPS 2 Late 2020
AOPS 3 Fall 2021
AOPS 4 Fall 2022
AOPS 5 Summer 2023
AOPS 6 Winter 2024
AOPS 7 Winter 2025 AOPS 7 and 8 $1.5 billion (estimate)
AOPS 8 Fall 2025
canadian surface combatant (CSC) 15 CSCs between 2020s - 2040s $56 to 60 billion (estimate)
Multi-Purpose Vessel (MPV) Up to 16 MPVs starting in late 2020s $14.2 billion (estimate)

Procurement of medical supplies

Context

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has been working aggressively with domestic and international suppliers, along with provincial and territorial governments to procure medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Suggested response

If pressed on material shortages:

If pressed on domestic suppliers:

If pressed on Buy and Sell:

If pressed on provincial and territorial collaboration:

If pressed on providing the private sector with PPE:

If pressed on National Security Exception (NSE) contracting:

If pressed on treatment of workers:

Background

The Government is taking an aggressive, proactive procurement approach to fulfill immediate and future requirements. This includes buying in bulk from reputable distributors, to secure key items like masks and ventilators, which are in high global demand.

As the requirements across the country are rapidly evolving, the federal government is closely collaborating with the provinces and territories to ensure their needs are accurately identified in a timely manner. In addition, the Government has shifted its procurement approach to anticipate future needs rather than only current requirements.

In addition, across Canada, governments are encouraging efforts to ramp up domestic manufacturing to reduce reliance on international supply chains but it is not clear when that will scale up enough to replace or supplement global procurement.

Procurement from Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the largest producers of medical gloves, and is the source for a number of suppliers.

When awarding contracts, the department is requiring that suppliers agree to terms and conditions including those with respect to abiding by appropriate laws.

Amazon COVID-19 supply distribution deal

Context

On April 1, 2020 the Government of Canada entered into an agreement with Amazon to help manage the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies purchased by the government, to support the COVID-19 response. Amazon is providing these services to Canadians at cost, without profit until June 30th.

Suggested response

If pressed on the rationale for Amazon:

If pressed on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) role:

If pressed on Amazon’s role:

If pressed on Canada Post and Purolator’s role:

If pressed on the health and safety of workers:

Background

On April 1st, 2020, the Government of Canada signed a contract with Amazon to efficiently get health care professionals the PPE. The agreement with Amazon is mostly to access its technology interface where the supplies will be catalogued, to allow provincial and territorial health authorities to order them directly through the Amazon business store.

The delivery of the PPE and supplies ordered and approved by the PHAC will be done by Purolator when for large shipments and by Canada Post for smaller shipments. The personal protective equipment and supplies is currently warehoused at the facility of Maritime Ontario in Brampton, where the technology of Amazon has been installed to treat the orders of provincial and territorial health authorities. Maritime Ontario is an on-going key sub-contractor of Canada Post.

Canada will pay to Amazon its standard costs without profit until June 30th, 2020. Amazon fees after June 30, 2020 will be lower than Amazon’s standard commercial fees for the same services.

This agreement will support the distribution of vast quantities of masks, gloves and other equipment purchased by the government to front-line healthcare workers and others in need as quickly as possible.

Canada Post: Health and safety

Context

Canada Post continues to provide a vital service to Canadians under difficult circumstances, with employees continuing to operate in the field delivering parcels. Canada Post announced on March 19, 2020 that they are doing everything possible to continue its service while keeping the health and safety of its staff as its number one priority.

Suggested response

If pressed on health and safety:

Canada Post is taking action to protect employees and customers, including

If pressed on volume and delays:

If pressed on distribution of the Epoch Times:

If pressed on obligations:

Background

On March 19, 2020, Canada Post released a letter stating its number one priority is the health and safety of its employees. They encouraged employees who can work from home to do so. However, the majority of its employees are in the field delivering packages.

Canada Post has eliminated the need for customers to sign for parcels at the door to minimize personal contact. It has also suspended normal delivery guarantees for its parcel services as delivering safely without overburdening its employees requires more time.

Canada Post has been experiencing “Christmas level” volumes during this pandemic. For example, on Monday April 20, they delivered more than 1.8 million parcels to Canadians. That is similar to the biggest delivery days during the Christmas season. Canada Post has introduced several measures to encourage physical distancing and limit contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a “Knock, Drop and Go” approach for parcel delivery. This change eliminates the need for signatures at the door, speeds up delivery and has greatly reduced the number of parcels sent to post offices for pickup. Items that require signatures due to proof of age will be required to be picked up at the retail counter in a more controlled environment, where physical distancing can be accommodated.

International competition and export restrictions impacting personal protective equipment procurement

Context

Countries have begun curbing the export of personal protective equipment (PPE), increasing competition for the procurement of these goods. Media has also reported on several instances of medical supplies procured from unfamiliar overseas suppliers not meeting advertised quality standards.

Suggested response

If pressed on quality-issues of medical supplies:

If pressed on international export restrictions:

If pressed on a plane departing China without cargo:

Background

Global demand for medical supplies remains high for the fight against COVID-19, and competition remains fierce for their delivery. The federal government is procuring materials from a variety of sources, including from overseas suppliers. In addition to federal supply purchases, provinces and cities are also sourcing their own equipment.

Countries have moved to restrict the export of face masks, gloves and other medical supplies critical for front-line workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a more time-consuming procurement process. China is the largest supplier of PPE in the world, and global supply was impacted when the country had to shut down its factories earlier this year when the outbreak began. Canada has taken a two-pronged approach to the acquisition of supplies, by scaling up domestic capacity while seeking to acquire PPE internationally.

The federal government has recently hired private firms to provide quality assurance before supplies are shipped to Canada, and the federal public health agency does further checks before distributing goods.

Translation Bureau staff capacity

Context

Translation Bureau staffing capacity and wellness was raised by members of the Standing House Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) during a Translation Bureau’s appearance on May 4, 2020.

Suggested response

Background

On May 4, 2020, during an exchange at PROC, the President of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees stated that out of the 70 Translation Bureau interpreters working in official languages during the pandemic, there are about 40 interpreters that are unable to work because of child care or health issues.

The Translation Bureau has confirmed that these numbers are not accurate.

From January 1, 2019 to March 15, 2020, there was one report of a disabling injury and one report of a minor injury. Both employees are now recovered and have returned to work. Both incidents were a result of traditional (in person) interpretation. During the same time period, there were 28 other hazardous occurrences reported related to poor sound quality (e.g., feedback, high-pitched noises, interference) and that resulted in fatigue, headaches, and hearing sensitivity. Two of these hazardous occurrences were related to remote interpretation (teleconferences), while the remainder were related to traditional interpretation.

With increased use of videoconferences over the last two months, there has been an increase in incident reports from interpreters, including headaches, earaches and fatigue due to poor sound quality. No acoustic shock or other injury requiring hospitalization has been reported.

From March 16, 2020 to April 29, 2020, there were no reported disabling or minor injuries. There were 39 other hazardous occurrences reported that related to poor sound quality that resulted, most commonly, in headaches, hearing sensitivities, and fatigue. Fourteen of those hazardous occurrences were related to teleconferences; 25 were related to videoconferences.

The Translation Bureau has provided its interpreters with headsets with sound limiters to protect against acoustic shock and implemented a series of hygiene and physical distancing measures. In addition, the Bureau requires its clients to take technical measures that promote not only the health of its interpreters but also high-quality interpretation. These include having a qualified audiovisual technician present at all times, remote participants’ use of good quality headsets with built-in microphones and good quality Internet connections, and the provision documents to interpreters in advance of meetings.

The Translation Bureau’s approach aligns very closely to international best practices, including the International Association of Conference Interpreters principles, guidance for institutions and best practices.

Federal construction work

Context

On May 11, commercial construction re-opened in the province of Quebec, and on Thursday, May 14, the Government of Ontario communicated that all construction work could resume effective May 19.

Suggested response

If pressed on the Parliamentary Precinct:

If pressed on the Canadian Construction Association Request to support industry:

Background

PSPC continues to monitor the situation to ensure that any decision regarding construction sites respects the advice of public health officials and aligns with the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) standardized COVID-19 protocols (PDF) for all Canadian construction sites and respective provincial and territorial government direction.

The CCA has voiced their support for keeping federal construction sites open and its workforce employed on project sites that can meet a high standard of health and safety measures and that involve defence, security, infrastructure and the administration of justice and government. Federal unions (e.g., Unionized Building & Construction Trades Council) wrote to the Minister directly expressing their gratitude for maintaining jobs by keeping the Parliament Hill site open specifically, noting that it is among the safest in the country.

Projects not aligned with the revised Province of Ontario directives have paused construction work. The 85 demobilized projects are in three primary categories:

Status of the Long Term Vision and Plan for the Parliamentary Precinct

Context

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is implementing the Long Term Vision and Plan (LTVP) – a multi-decade strategy to restore and modernize the Parliamentary Precinct.

Suggested response

If pressed on governance and costs for the Centre Block:

If pressed on redevelopment of Block 2:

Background

The LTVP was first approved in 2001 for the restoration and modernization of Canada’s Parliamentary Precinct. All major projects continue to track on time and budget.

PSPC has invested approximately $3.5 billion in the Parliamentary Precinct to-date, which has created over 25,000 jobs in local and national economies in, for example, engineering, architecture, construction, manufacturing and skilled trades sectors.

The restored West Block and Senate of Canada Building and the new Visitor Welcome Centre (Phase 1), were transferred to Parliament in fall 2018. These projects followed the completion of the 21 key projects since the Library of Parliament in 2006, including the 180 Wellington Building (2016) and the Sir John A Macdonald building (2015).

Efforts are now focused on restoring and modernizing the Centre Block and leveraging the remaining 23 assets in the Precinct to create an integrated parliamentary campus that addresses Parliament’s long term requirements, including material handling, the movement of people and goods, accessibility, sustainability, and security.

Restoring the Centre Block is a core objective of the LTVP. It will be the largest project of its kind in Canadian history. The program is on track and several key milestones have been accomplished:

PSPC is working with the Parliamentary Partners (Senate, House of Commons, the Library of Parliament, and the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council) to finalize their functional and design requirements (e.g., number, size and types of functional spaces such as offices and committee rooms). The outcomes of these assessments and outreach will directly support the design efforts of the building rehabilitation. The completion of the schematic design is planned for spring 2020. This will inform the baseline scope, schedule and budget for the Centre Block rehabilitation.

Parliament Hill draws millions of visitors annually and is a key driver of tourism that contributes significantly to the Ottawa economy. PSPC is committed to ensuring that a positive visitor experience continues during the rehabilitation program.

PSPC has leveraged the LTVP to create opportunities for Canadians, including youth and Indigenous Peoples. We have committed to include provisions in all of our major projects’ contracts that would subcontract at least 5% of work to Indigenous firms.

The LTVP is reducing the Government’s carbon footprint. PSPC has already reduced greenhouse gas levels in the Precinct by 56% from 2005 levels and is on track to reach 80% by 2030 while also diverting more than 90% of demolition materials from landfills.

The Precinct is a model for accessibility. It will achieve, and in some cases exceed, accessibility standards. The West Block and Senate of Canada Building include barrier-free access and improved accessibility features in the Chambers, public galleries, offices, meeting places, washrooms and corridors.

Rent relief measures for federal building occupants

Context

Public Services Procurement Canada (PSPC) has put in place measures to alleviate financial pressure on its commercial tenants during a period of low-building occupancy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suggested response

Background

Given the health and safety measures put in place to contain COVID-19, buildings under PSPC’s management are largely empty. As a result, commercial tenants may have experienced reductions in their business volumes.

In line with March 31, 2020, guidance from TBS on rent relief to external tenants, PSPC has taken steps to allow tenants to defer their rent payments for a three-month period effective April 1, 2020, for those businesses whose income has been affected by the COVID-19 containment measures. To date, rent deferrals were sought by 126 tenants for a total of $1.4 million for the three-month period.

On April 24, 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government had reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) targeted for small businesses and non-profit organizations. This program will lower rent by 75% for businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 for a three-month period (April to June 2020).

On April 25, 2020, TBS Assistant Comptroller General sent a communique stating that, although CECRA does not apply to PSPC, as a custodian, it is required to ensure a whole-of-government approach to the implementation of the program. As such, custodians are expected to extend similar flexibilities to provide eligible tenants with appropriate rent relief. TBS’s guidance will follow to ensure a consistent approach. Based on expected program criteria, it could equate to a total rent relief of up to $2.8 million (75% of $3.6 million in revenues from 327 leases).

COVID-19 Supply Council

Context

The Government of Canada has created a COVID-19 Supply Council which brings together a diverse group of leaders to provide the government with advice on the procurement of critical goods and services required as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response and recovery.

Suggested response

If pressed on the departure of a council member:

Background

The council will provide advice on building innovative and agile supply chains for goods in wide use such as masks, gloves and disinfectants, including production, sourcing, shipping and distribution strategies as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve. It is an advisory body reporting to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, who serves as the Chair of the council. The council held its first meeting on Friday, May 8, 2020. The council consists of 16 members from across the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Membership

The following is a list of the COVID-19 Supply Council members:

Members were selected for their expertise and leadership in their respective fields and their work on the council will be on a voluntary basis. The council will be convened until the end of 2020, a term that the Minister can extend if circumstances require it.

Canada Post Corporation 2020 first quarter report

Context

On May 25, 2020, Canada Post Corporation released its 2020 first quarter (Q1) results and recorded a loss before tax of $66 million.

Suggested response

If pressed on the $66 million recorded loss before taxes:

Background

COVID-19 disruption

With parcel volumes rapidly increasing and transaction mail and direct marketing volumes quickly decreasing, COVID-19 is expected to have a larger impact on the business in the second quarter.

Key results for the Canada Post segment in first quarter 2020 compared to first quarter 2019

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