Frequently Asked Questions
The Board of Internal Economy is the governing body of the House of Commons. The Board is created by the Parliament of Canada Act and has equal representation from the governing party and the officially recognized parties (i.e. those holding at least 12 seats in the House). It is chaired by the Speaker.
Following the passing of legislation on June 22, 2017, Board of Internal Economy meetings will now be open to the public, by default. For issues relating to security, employment, staff relations, tenders; specific circumstances prescribed by a Board by-law; or if the Members of the Board present at the meeting unanimously agree the meeting may go in camera.
The Board meets approximately once a month when the House is sitting. The meeting time and location will be posted online when confirmed.
The minutes are reviewed and approved by the Board before they are tabled in the House of Commons and then published on the website shortly after. This practice has been in place since the 35th Parliament.
For copies of these Board meeting minutes, contact the Parliament of Canada Information Service.
The by-laws of the Board of Internal Economy are key governing documents of the House of Commons. Together with the Parliament of Canada Act, they form the basis of all policies and guidelines regarding the resources that Members have access to for carrying out their parliamentary functions.
The by-laws are:
The Board of Internal Economy is responsible for establishing and enforcing the by-laws, policies and guidelines that govern the use of funds, goods, services and premises made available to Members and House Officers to carry out their parliamentary functions.
The Board delegates to the Clerk of the House and the House Administration the responsibility of implementing its policies and programs and the day-to-day management of House resources.
“Parliamentary functions” in relation to a Member, means the duties and activities that relate to the position of Member, wherever performed and whether or not performed in a partisan manner, namely, participation in activities relating to the proceedings and work of the House of Commons and activities undertaken in representing his or her constituency or constituents.
The following activities, when performed by a Member, are not considered to be parliamentary functions:
- any activities related to the private interests of a Member or a Member’s immediate family;
- any activities related to the administration, organization and internal communications of a political party, including participation in a party leadership campaign or convention, solicitations of contributions and solicitations of membership to a political party;
- any activities related to a Member’s re-election;
- any activities designed, in the context of a federal, provincial, or municipal election, or any other local election, to support or oppose a political party or an individual candidate; and
- any activities that are related to a meeting of an electoral district association, as defined in the Canada Elections Act, and that are carried out for nomination, electoral or sponsorship purposes or that relate to soliciting contributions or membership.
The Members’ Allowances and Services Manual is a comprehensive guide to the Board of Internal Economy’s policies on budgets, allowances and entitlements for Members and House Officers.
It describes the support services provided by the House Administration, the terms and conditions of employment for employees of Members and House Officers, and the stipulations for contracts.
This manual also outlines the provisions available to Members who resign or die while in office, or who are not re elected, and describes the effects of the dissolution of Parliament on services, allowances and entitlements.
The Members By-law, established by the Board of Internal Economy under the authority of the Parliament of Canada Act, is the foundation of the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual and should be read in conjunction with this manual.
This By-law regulates how financial resources and administrative services provided by the House are to be used. In the event of any inconsistencies, the Members By-law takes precedence over this manual.
The Members’ Allowances and Services Manual is written for use by Members and their staff. It is being posted on OurCommons.ca to provide the public with more information on the services and allowances provided to Members in support of their parliamentary functions.
The Members’ Allowances and Services Manual is initially being published on OurCommons.ca in PDF format. Enhancements will be made to its navigation and format in the future.
Users may consult the Table of Contents for the chapter of the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual that is of most interest to them.
Keyword searches may also be done within chapters or the complete manual using the search function in the PDF reader software.
The page numbers restart at the beginning of each chapter and appendix. To print an individual chapter or appendix, select it from the Table of Contents.
The Members’ Allowances and Services Manual is updated regularly to reflect Board of Internal Economy decisions.
If I am looking at the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual for the first time, where should I start?
Since the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual is written for use by Members and their staff, it contains internal references. As an example, the manual refers to Intraparl, which is the internal Web site for the Parliament of Canada. Access is provided to Senators and Members and their staff, as well as to employees of the Administration of the Senate, the House of Commons Administration and the Library of Parliament.
Who do I contact if I have further questions about the information provided in the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual?
The public is invited to direct enquiries to the Parliament of Canada Information Service.
The Members’ Expenditures Report summarizes the expenses incurred by Members in the discharge of their parliamentary functions. The report presents year-to-date expenditures by budget and expense category. It includes the Detailed Travel Points Report and the Detailed Hospitality Expenditures Report.
The Detailed Travel Points Report presents the following information regarding Members’ and authorized travellers’ trips for which travel points were used:
- claim ID;
- names of travellers (except for dependants);
- purpose of the trip;
- date of departure (by trip, except for regular trips);
- point of departure and destination;
- transportation costs;
- accommodation costs;
- per diem costs;
- number and type of points used (regular, special, U.S.A.); and
- total cost of the claim.
The Detailed Hospitality Expenditures Report presents the following information regarding Members’ hospitality expenses:
- date of the event;
- type of event;
- purpose of the event;
- location of the event (city);
- number of guests (excluding the Member);
- claim ID;
- name of the supplier; and
- total cost of the event.
Since April 1, 2014, the Members’ Expenditures Report is produced quarterly and published on OurCommons.ca within three months of the end of each quarter.
Each quarterly report presents Members’ year-to-date expenditures. Any required modifications are reflected in the next quarterly report, as the information included in the quarterly reports remains static once the quarter has ended.
Since the second quarter of 2014-2015, travel expenses for which travel points were used, as well as hospitality expenses, are disclosed in a manner similar to the proactive disclosure of ministerial expenses.
For more information on the enhancements made to the Members’ Expenditures Report in 2014-2015, refer to the backgrounder.
The Members’ Expenditures Report is published on OurCommons.ca.
In accordance with the Members By-law, the Speaker of the House of Commons, on behalf of the Board of Internal Economy, is responsible for ensuring the publication of the Members’ Expenditures Report on OurCommons.ca at such time as determined by the Board.
The timing for publication changed further to a Board decision in October 2013. Since April 1, 2014, the Members’ Expenditures Report is published on OurCommons.ca within three months of the end of each quarter.
Members must provide and approve receipts for their expenditures. Consistent with Treasury Board policies, receipts are not required for expenditures related to per diem expenses, kilometre travel by personal vehicle or private accommodation while in travel status; these expenses are based on utilization as reported by the Member.
For more information on the resources provided to Members to help them carry out their parliamentary functions and on Members’ eligible expenses, refer to the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual.
The expenses reported reflect, to some extent, the characteristics of the constituency that each Member represents. For example, a constituency’s size and its distance from Ottawa would be determining factors with regard to travel costs, whereas the number of constituents and households would influence the amounts spent for printing and office supplies.
Seats identified as “vacant” followed by the constituency name are overseen by the former Member’s Party Whip, or by the Speaker in the case of an independent Member. This ensures that constituents continue to be served until the date of a general election or by-election.
What happens if Members exceed the budgets that are provided to them in support of their parliamentary functions?
Members are personally responsible for any expenses that exceed their budgets.
Expenses are first reported in the quarter in which they are processed by the House Administration, not necessarily in the quarter in which they are incurred. For example, if a trip occurred near the end of a quarter, the claim is likely to be processed in the next quarter and therefore presented in the following year-to-date quarterly reports for the fiscal year.
Why do the total amounts of certain categories in the Members’ Expenditures Report remain the same from one quarterly report to the next?
Each quarterly report presents Members’ year-to-date expenditures. If no expense claims are submitted by Members and processed by the House Administration during a subsequent quarter, the total amounts remain the same.
Transportation expenses may be charged to the Member’s Office Budget or the House central budget (Resources Provided by the House). The Detailed Travel Points Report only includes expenses for trips charged to the House central budget and for which travel points were used. This report also includes accommodation and per diem expenses related to trips for which travel points were used.
For more information on travel expenses, refer to the Travel chapter in the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual.
Each travel expense claim is given a unique identification number (claim ID) for internal tracking purposes.
Regular travel points refer to points used for travel between the Member’s constituency and Ottawa and for which a claim has been processed by the House Administration.
Special travel points refer to points used for travel within Canada, other than for trips between the Member’s constituency and Ottawa, and for which a claim has been processed by the House Administration.
U.S.A. points refer to points used for travel to Washington D.C. or New York City and for which a claim has been processed by the House Administration.
The Detailed Hospitality Expenditures Report includes information about hospitality expenses related to Members’ parliamentary functions, such as meals for Members and their guests; tickets for meals with service groups, at community events or at other meetings of a non-partisan nature; and food and beverages served at meetings and events.
The Member is always excluded from the count; therefore, should the Member be unaccompanied at an event, the number of guests is set at "0".
The number of guests is also set at “0” for activities related to the purchase of beverages (e.g. coffee and tea) for the Member’s office.
In accordance with the Constitution and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, federal electoral districts, also known as constituencies, were readjusted following the last decennial census to reflect changes and movements in Canada’s population. The readjustments to the federal electoral districts came into effect on the day of the 42nd general election, which was held on Monday, October 19, 2015. As a result, Members’ portions of the Members’ Expenditures Report for the third quarter of 2015-2016 and subsequent quarterly reports reflect the updated constituency profile information.
The Clerk of the House of Commons maintains the Public Registry of Designated Travellers. This list discloses each Member’s designated traveller.
The Members By-Law stipulates the terms for the designation of a designated traveller and the validity period of the designation. It also stipulates the maintenance of the registry.
A Member of the House of Commons may designate one person, other than the Member’s employee or another Member who is not the Member’s spouse, as their designated traveller.
If a Member chooses not to have a designated traveller, the Member’s name does not appear in the Public Registry of Designated Travellers. The registry may include the names of former Members as it also contains the names of Members whose expenditures are reported in the Members’ Expenditures Report for the previous fiscal year if they ceased to be a Member on or after April 1 (the start of the new fiscal year).
Members are able to change their designated traveller once every 365 days, at the beginning of a new Parliament, or if the designated traveller dies. The Public Registry of Designated Travellers is updated on a quarterly basis.
For more information on the travel provisions available to designated travellers in support of Members’ parliamentary functions, refer to the Travel chapter of the Members’ Allowances and Services Manual.
The Public Registry of Designated Travellers was previously available through the office of the Clerk of the House of Commons. It is now posted on OurCommons.ca to facilitate access to information.
The costs of Members’ and designated travellers’ trips are reported in the Members’ Expenditures Report and the Detailed Travel Points Report.
The Financial Statements of the House of Commons are prepared in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards. The Financial Statements include the following:
- Statement of Financial Position as at March 31;
- Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position;
- Statement of Change in Net Debt;
- Statement of Cash Flows; and
- Notes to the Financial Statements.
Yes, via a competitive process, the House of Commons hires an independent accounting firm to audit its Financial Statements.
The Board of Internal Economy strongly believes that an annual external audit of the Financial Statements is a key component of sound management practices.
The function of such an audit is to attest that the Financial Statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the House of Commons as at March 31, and its results of operations, its financial performance and its cash flows for the year then ended.
The annual audit includes an assessment of the processes and controls for all expenditures reported in the House of Commons Financial Statements, which includes those incurred by the House Administration, House Officers and Members under the authority of the Parliament of Canada Act and the Board of Internal Economy By-laws.
The audit of the 2015–2016 Financial Statements resulted in an unqualified audit opinion.
The auditor is satisfied that the Financial Statements present fairly in all material respects, the financial position, financial performance and cash flows of the House of Commons.
The auditor had no significant concerns with respect to the accuracy of the Financial Statements or the design, implementation or operating effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting, including anti-fraud controls. Furthermore, no observations were raised for remediation by management.
Each year, the audited Financial Statements are presented to the Board of Internal Economy. The audit results are also provided to the Treasury Board Secretariat and to the Office of the Auditor General for information purposes. The audited Financial Statements are posted on OurCommons.ca.
Yes, the House of Commons has an Internal Audit directorate.
The purpose of the House of Commons Internal Audit directorate is to provide independent, objective assurance and consulting services designed to add value and improve the House operations. Internal Audit helps the House accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes.
Internal Audit, through the Chief Audit Executive, provides both management and the Board of Internal Economy with an independent assessment of and advice on the:
- effectiveness, efficiency and adequacy of internal controls to reduce risk;
- soundness of risk management and governance systems and practices, and;
- measures in place to determine the effectiveness of programs.
The Internal Audit directorate is also responsible for liaising and coordinating with an independent accounting firm for the audit of the House of Commons Financial Statements.
The House of Commons' Internal Audit directorate reports its findings to the Board of Internal Economy and the House Administration's senior management team.
The House of Commons Administration produces two reports that are available to the public: the Strategic Plan and the Report to Canadians.
- The Strategic Plan provides an overview of the priorities of the House Administration for a three period. It also provides overall guidance for the Administration’s operations and for the prioritization of resources and activities.
- The Report to Canadians provides the public with an annual update on Members' parliamentary activities. It also summarizes the House Administration's accomplishments in support of Members and the institution, based on the priorities set out in the Strategic Plan.
The Strategic Plan 2016-2019 is the first official planning document to be published following the renewal of the House Administration’s planning framework. It replaces the Strategic Outlook but it is not tied to the parliamentary cycle. This new approach is more flexible and allows for greater responsiveness to the changing needs of clients.
The report covers the period from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.
Yes, the Report to Canadians includes a financial report. It provides information on the following:
- planned versus actual spending by authority;
- planned versus actual spending by program;
- actual spending by service; and
- full-time equivalents.