Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Canadian House of Commons Page Program
Pages are non-partisan employees of the Canadian House of Commons. They perform both ceremonial and administrative duties including:
- Participation in the Speaker's Parade and Royal Assent
- Delivering documents and water to Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Chamber and in House Committees
- Answering telephones in the Lobby rooms and delivering messages to MPs
- Assisting the Speaker, Clerks, Sergeant-at-arms and other House officers in the Chamber
Pages work an average of 15 hours a week in the House while studying full-time at one of the Universities in the National Capital Region and are paid $10,800 (CDN) for their one-year term. Pages take part in a number of activities throughout the year designed to enrich the experience including meetings with MPs and government leaders as well as Page vs MP hockey games. They also meet frequently with student groups to explain the workings of the House and their duties as Pages.
Forty graduating high school (or CEGEP in Quebec) students are selected each year to serve as pages in the House of Commons. Applications are open to both male and female candidates from across the country. Pages must be fluently bilingual in both official languages of Canada (English and French) and pass a security screening by the RCMP. They are selected based on a written essay, an in-person interview and a language test. Pages are also required to learn the names of all 308 MPs in the House. They receive two weeks of training prior to the start of their term and are then sworn in by the Speaker and Clerk of the House.
The Page program dates back to at least Confederation (1867) though it was quite different at that time. Pages were male only, and boys as young as 11 years old were selected. They were paid $1.50 a day. Pages were chosen by the Speaker, with help from the Sergeant-at-arms and they held the position until they outgrew their uniforms. There are also references to the term "House Page" as far back as 1841 in the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada.
In 1968, a minimum working age of 16 years was adopted but it is only in 1978, after an article in The Wall Street Journal criticized the Pages' working conditions that the system was completely discarded in favour of the current one.
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