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Financial Cycle

Shaded portions are provisional for the duration of the Fourty-Second Parliament. Pursuant to Order made on June 20, 2017, amendments to Standing Order 81 took effect on September 18, 2017, and remain in effect for the duration of the Fourty-Second Parliament

Financial cycle in the form of a circle divided into three supply periods

A provisional change, in place for the remainder of the Fourty-Second Parliament, was adopted by the House in June 2017 to replace the interim supply process with interim estimates. Interim estimates are treated in the same manner as other estimates, including being tabled and deemed referred to committee. The interim estimates are also considered during the supply period ending March 26.

On a provisional basis, the House amended the timelines for consideration of the Main Estimates for the remainder of the Forty-Second Parliament. Accordingly,

Beginning the Cycle

The fiscal year of the Government of Canada runs from April 1 to March 31. However, the planning for the fiscal year begins well in advance with the preparation of departmental budgetary priorities, and the pre-budget consultations by the Standing Committee on Finance. This committee may report on its pre-budget consultations for the upcoming fiscal year by mid-December.

The Budget

The government’s efforts to reconcile its spending obligations and revenue projections are reflected in the budget. The budget outlines the government’s fiscal, social and economic policies and priorities, while the main estimates set out, in detail, its projected expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. Typically, the budget is presented in the second half of February.

The Main Estimates

The expenditure plans are submitted to the House in their consolidated form as the “Main Estimates”. Under normal circumstances, the main estimates are tabled in the House on or before March 1 for the upcoming fiscal year and submitted for concurrence by the House no later than June 23.

Interim Supply

Since the fiscal year begins on April 1 and the normal supply cycle provides for the House to decide on main estimates only in June, the House authorizes an advance on the funds requested in the main estimates, known as “interim supply”. These funds, approved no later than March 26, cover the needs of the public service from the start of the new fiscal year on April 1 to the date on which the appropriation act, based on the main estimates of that year, is passed.

On a provisional basis, the House amended the timelines for consideration of the Main Estimates for the remainder of the Forty-Second Parliament. Accordingly, the tabling deadline was changed from March 1 to April 16;

Supplementary Estimates

Should there be a change in the government’s requirements as set out in the main estimates, Parliament will be asked to approve “supplementary” estimates during the course of the fiscal year. The government may introduce as many sets of supplementary estimates in a year as it deems necessary. In recent practice, there have been two or three sets of supplementary estimates per fiscal year.

Parliament may thus be asked to approve supplementary estimates for the current fiscal year at the same time it considers interim supply for the upcoming fiscal year.

Closing the Loop—Public Accounts and the Auditor General’s Report

The Public Accounts of Canada and the Annual Report of the Auditor General are tabled before December 31 in the year to which they apply. Review of them by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts completes the government’s annual cycle of financial transactions. 

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