Certain standing committees, including the Standing Committee on Finance, are empowered to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of the department or departments of government that are assigned to them from time to time by the House. For the Standing Committee on Finance, these departments include the Department of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency.
Finally, the Standing Committee on Finance also has the responsibility to consider budgetary policy, as outlined in Standing Order 83.1. In particular, commencing on the first sitting day in September of each year, the Committee is authorized to consider and report on proposals regarding the budgetary policy of the government. The Committee normally presents its pre-budget report no later than the third sitting day before the last normal sitting day in December, as outlined in Standing Order 28(2).
In each parliamentary session, the Committee’s work may include:
- pre-budget consultations;
- briefing sessions by departmental officials on federal programs;
- examination of planned expenditures of the Department of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency;
- a review of Order in Council appointments;
- a review of Monetary Policy Reports of the Governor of the Bank of Canada;
- a review of the Minister of Finance’s economic and fiscal updates;
- consideration of proposed legislation;
- special studies on topics within the Committee’s mandate; and
- consideration of reports of subcommittees.
2000 – Present
From 2000 to 2021, in addition to the annual report on its pre-budget consultations and reports on legislation and the estimates, the Standing Committee on Finance prepared reports on
- a natural disaster reduction plan;
- federal cost recovery;
- the creation of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada;
- large bank mergers;
- excise taxes on textiles;
- tax measures in relation to small businesses;
- the fiscal imbalance;
- the Canada Revenue Agency;
- income trusts;
- the manufacturing sector;
- personal services businesses;
- retirement income;
- tax incentives for charitable giving;
- tax evasion and the use of tax havens;
- income inequality;
- youth employment;
- the Canadian renminbi hub;
- the impacts of low oil prices on the economy;
- housing markets; and
- money laundering and terrorist financing.
In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.
The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.
The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committee’s Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the committee .
The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the committee. They are part of the committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.
Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.
OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED
Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, parliamentary counsel (Legislation) are available to assist members who are not in Cabinet with the preparation of private members’ bills or of amendments to government bills or others.
At various stages of the legislative process, members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the committee stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the report stage, once a bill returns to the House.
Once a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides the name of the parliamentary counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the members.
The legislative clerk serves all members of the committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee with any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of report stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.
The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.
Further information on the PBO may be found at: http://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/
43rd Parliament, 2nd Session (23 September 2020 to 15 August 2021)
- Pre-Budget Consultations 2021: Investing in Tomorrow: Canadian Priorities for Economic Growth and Recovery
- 43rd Parliament, 1st Session (5 December 2019 to 18 August 2020)
- Pre-Budget Consultations 2020: Canadian Ideas: Leveraging our Strengths