On Budget Day, pursuant to the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, the Minister of Finance rises in the Legislative Assembly, tables the Estimates for the coming fiscal year (April 1 – March 31), and delivers the Budget Address, a speech outlining the government's financial policy and priorities for the coming year. The Minister also tables the budget and economic and fiscal forecasts for that year, the government's strategic plan, and ministry and Crown agency three-year service plans.
After the Budget Address, MLAs have the opportunity to debate the budget. Budget Debate lasts a maximum of six sitting days and at least eight sittings.
Committee of Supply
Scrutiny of the estimates takes place in Committee of Supply, a committee of the whole comprising all MLAs except the Speaker. This process provides MLAs the opportunity to ask questions about ministry plans and proposed spending. The minister responsible is present to answer questions, with the assistance of senior ministry advisers. When there are no further questions, a vote is held to determine whether that ministry’s budget should be approved.
Committee of Supply may split into more than one section to permit simultaneous debate of the estimates.
Published by the Ministry of Finance, the Estimates is a document containing a detailed breakdown of proposed spending by ministries and government agencies in a fiscal year. Sometimes referred to as the “blue book,” the Estimates is organized as a series of proposed appropriations, by numbered vote.
The Estimates is accompanied by the Supplement to the Estimates, which provides additional information on salaries, grants, capital, travel, and operations.