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Federal Accountability Action Plan, April 2006

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Ensuring truth in budgeting with a Parliamentary Budget Authority

Delivering on our commitment

  • A new Parliamentary Budget Officer to support Members of Parliament and parliamentary committees with independent analysis of economic and fiscal issues
  • Quarterly updates of government fiscal forecasts from the Department of Finance

In both the United States and the Netherlands, independent budget agencies play an important role in formulating budget projections.

Why we are doing this

Improving the transparency and credibility of the Government’s fiscal forecasting and budget planning process is a fundamental step in making it more accountable to Parliament and to Canadians. Parliamentary committees should have access to independent, objective analysis and advice on economic and fiscal issues, supported by the timely provision of accurate information from departments and agencies.

The Federal Accountability Act will introduce the following changes:

  • The Act will expand the mandate and resources of the non-partisan Library of Parliament by establishing within it the position of Parliamentary Budget Officer.
  • It will give this Officer the mandate to:
    • provide objective analysis to the Senate and House of Commons concerning the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy;
    • undertake economic and fiscal research for the Standing Committee on Finance, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, or the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance, on the request of these committees; and
    • estimate the financial cost of proposals currently or prospectively under consideration in either House when requested to do so by a Member, a committee of the Senate or the House of Commons, or a committee of both Houses.
  • It will require that departments and agencies provide the Officer with existing data necessary to fulfill his or her mandate. To protect highly sensitive data, however, appropriate exemptions, including ones similar to those under the Access to Information Act, will apply to the Officer’s ability to access or release certain types of information.

In addition, we will introduce the following measures:

  • We will provide quarterly updates to government fiscal forecasts using the following vehicles:
    • the June Fiscal Monitor, for the first quarter of the fiscal year, ending in June (to be released by the Department of Finance in mid- to late August);Governor General's Foot Guards
    • the Fall Update for the second quarter, ending in September;
    • the Budget for the third quarter, ending in December; and
    • the March Fiscal Monitor for the fourth quarter, ending in March (to be released in mid- to late May).
  • We will continue to provide monthly financial statements in the Fiscal Monitor, in adherence with the International Monetary Fund’s Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency.

What this means for Canadians

These changes will increase transparency in the Government’s fiscal planning framework, and will enable Parliament to better hold government to account.

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