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Supply Bills

Supply bills, otherwise known as appropriation acts, are based on the estimates or interim supply as adopted by the House. They authorize the government to withdraw from the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounts up to, but not exceeding, the amounts set out in the estimates for the purposes specified in the votes.

Supply bills give authority for only a single year. They bear the standard title: An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31 (year).

Authority for a government department or agency to carry the unexpended balance of money appropriated for one fiscal year over to the following year can be granted only by a separate statute.

The destinations and the amounts of each spending item, or vote, are set out in the schedules attached to each bill, which are organized alphabetically by department or agency.

Supply bills are considered on the last allotted day in each supply period, at the end of proceedings on the opposition motion or the main estimates, as the case may be. At that time, the House must proceed through all the motions related to the estimates, the interim supply and the supply bills without further debate or amendment.

Because concurrence in the estimates or in interim supply is an order of the House to bring in the appropriation bill, first reading proceeds immediately, without the formality of introduction, and all questions necessary for the disposal of the bill are put to the House. Once the bill has been read a third time, it is forwarded to the Senate.

Bills that have passed in both Houses of Parliament are normally kept by the Clerk of the Parliaments (the Clerk of the Senate) until the Governor General (or a deputy) grants them Royal Assent. However, because the granting of supply is a prerogative of the House of Commons, supply bills are always returned to the House of Commons and taken by the Speaker to the Senate Chamber to receive Royal Assent.

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