Estimates Publications and Appropriation Acts

Expenditures made by government require the authority of Parliament. That authority is provided in two ways: annual appropriation acts that specify the amounts and broad purposes for which funds can be spent; and other specific statutes that authorize payments and set out the amounts and time periods for those payments.

The amounts approved in appropriation acts are referred to as voted amounts, and the expenditure authorities provided through other statutes are called statutory authorities. Estimates documents are prepared to support appropriation acts. As such, the Estimates provide additional information on voted amounts included in the appropriation act. Forecasts of statutory amounts are also presented to give a more complete picture of total parliamentary authorities to be used during the fiscal year.

Once an appropriation act is introduced to Parliament, approved and granted royal assent, it becomes law.

Government Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates (Parts I and II)

  • The Government Expenditure Plan (Part I) provides an overview of federal spending.
  • The Main Estimates (Part II) list the financial resources required by individual departments, agencies and Crown corporations for the upcoming fiscal year.

Departmental Expenditure Plans (Part III)

  • Reports on Plans and Priorities (Part III) are expenditure plans for each department and agency (excluding Crown corporations). They describe departmental priorities, expected results and associated resource requirements covering a three-year period, beginning with the year indicated in the title of the report. Crown corporations produce corporate plans which can be accessed through their individual websites.
  • Departmental Performance Reports (Part III) are individual department and agency accounts of actual accomplishments against plans, priorities and expected results set out in their respective Report on Plans and Priorities.

Supplementary Estimates documents present information to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s spending requirements that were not sufficiently developed in time for inclusion in the Main Estimates, and will from time to time include urgent but unforeseen expenditures, such as natural disasters (an ice storm, H1N1, etc.).

An appropriation act begins as a supply bill. Supply bills are prepared for Main and Supplementary Estimates. Once a bill is introduced to Parliament, approved and granted royal assent, it becomes law in the form of an appropriation act. The appropriation act is the vehicle through which expenditures from the consolidated revenue fund are authorized in order to pay for government programs and services.

Governor General’s Special Warrants follow an established process and are used to obtain funds that are urgently required for the public good when Parliament is dissolved for a general election.

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