Budget and Estimates

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The Legislative Assembly is responsible for examining and approving all provincial government spending. The annual proposed budgets of government ministries and agencies are contained in a document called the Estimates. The work of reviewing and approving these expenditures typically takes place during the spring sitting in Committee of Supply. The estimates process concludes with the passage of a final Supply Bill.

Budget

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, Members 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 Members except the Speaker. This process provides Members 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.

Final Supply Bill

Once all voting on the estimates has been completed, a Final Supply Bill is introduced in the House. The Supply Bill authorizes all of the voted expenditures previously approved in Committee of Supply. As an administrative act, the final Supply Bill typically passes all legislative stages on the same day.

In addition to the Final Supply Bill there are two other types of supply bills:

  • Interim Supply Bill: authorizes spending of a portion of the budget until the main estimates process is completed.
  • Supplementary Supply Bill: authorizes expenses over and above the amount contained in the main estimates. A supplementary Supply Bill may follow debate of supplementary estimates.

The Estimates

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.

Last Updated: May 11, 2017