Senators are considering a $175 per hour consultation for committee hearings

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According to Blacklock’s reporter, Canadian senators Thursday were considering using taxpayers for a $175-hour counseling service for witnesses who voluntarily testify at committee hearings.

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The matter was shelved after Senator Donald Plett suggested the matter be held in camera.

“I really think this is an issue that should be discussed in camera, not in a public session,” Plett said.

“The House of Commons recently launched a program to assist witnesses before and after the Committee appears. They provide crisis management services,” said Toni Francis, Senate chief human resources officer.

The Office of the Speaker of the House confirmed that it paid “nurse consultants” for witnesses.

“Expenses will be paid at an hourly rate as needed,” spokeswoman Heather Bradley said.

The House of Commons budget was $610 million last year and the Senate budget was $117 million.

“Sharing one’s lived experience when that experience is traumatic, even to those who willingly share it, is not necessarily without effect. The safest of all spaces for parliamentarians and the public can lead to additional harm or post-traumatic stress for some,” said Human Resources Officer Francis.

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“It’s important to remember that not all Witnesses need assistance or will ask for assistance,” Francis said. We should not rule out the possibility that witnesses could have access to an existing support person.”

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Witnesses volunteer to testify at parliamentary hearings, but some are subpoenaed, said Shaila Anwar, Senate Assistant Secretary, who suggested paying $175 an hour for therapists.

“As many of you know, Senate committees often deal with a variety of sensitive or difficult issues. The testimonies at such meetings can sometimes be sensitive, disturbing and difficult to hear for all participants and for those following our proceedings,” Anwar said.

“Although we have a staff and family support program for senators and Senate employees, there is no formal system for offering similar support to committee witnesses,” said Anwar, who suggested “piloting a more formal process to provide mental health support and.” Counseling witnesses invited to testify before Senate committees on sensitive and traumatic issues.”

“In this scenario, a Witness would select a therapist or other culturally appropriate counseling service or individual of their choice and could request up to $500 for their services and support,” Anwar said. “This amount was based on three hours of consulting services at an hourly rate of $175.”

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