What are Parliamentary Committees?
Parliamentary committees are appointed by the Legislative Assembly to undertake business on behalf of the Assembly. Committees are made up of small groups of Members who have been appointed by the Legislative Assembly. Committees get their powers from the Assembly, sometimes referred to as the "House" and must report their findings back to the House.
Parliamentary committees allow for a more detailed examination of policy and other matters than is possible in the larger House. Parliamentary committees may hold public consultations to provide individuals and organizations with the opportunity to have direct input into the parliamentary process.
Types of Committees
There are two types of parliamentary committees: select standing committees and special committees.
Select standing committees are permanent committees and are set out in Standing Order 68(1):
- Aboriginal Affairs
- Children and Youth
- Crown Corporations
- Finance and Government Services
- Legislative Initiatives
- Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills
- Public Accounts
- Agriculture, Fish and Food
Select standing committees are only active if they receive a Terms of Reference.
Special committees are temporary committees which may be created by the Legislative Assembly to examine specific issues or to recommend the appointment of statutory officers, such as the Auditor General or the Ombudsperson. Special committees cease to exist once the committee has completed its work as outlined in its Terms of Reference and presented its final report. For more details on individual committees, visit Parliamentary Committees.
At the beginning of each Session, a Committee of Selection is appointed to determine the Members who will serve on the select standing committees. Membership on special committees is set out in the motion which outlines a committee's Terms of Reference.
Parliamentary committees vary in size and typically include Members of the Legislative Assembly from both government and opposition parties, reflecting political party representation in the House. Independent Members may also serve on parliamentary committees.
All Members of parliamentary committees are "Private Members" which means that they are not a "Minister" or Member of Cabinet.
Role of Committee Chair
At its first meeting, the committee elects a Chair and Deputy Chair. The Chair is responsible for maintaining order and decorum during meetings, deciding questions of procedure, overseeing the committee's administrative operations, and acting as a representative of the committee. The Chair also signs committee reports and presents them to the House.
Reporting to the Legislative Assembly
When a committee completes its work, it issues a report summarizing its process and findings, including any recommendations. The report is presented in the House by the Chair, at which point the report becomes public. If the House is not sitting, the Chair may make the report public by depositing it with the Office of the Clerk.