Building a More Open and Transparent Government
Open and transparent government is good government. It strengthens our trust in democracy, and ensures the integrity of our public institutions.
Sound financial and economic choices hinge on having the necessary resources, information and expertise, as well as accurate analysis and independent advice.
With its Fall Economic Statement, the government is giving more independence and greater power to the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Statistics Canada so that Canadians and Parliamentarians have better information to make more informed decisions.
The government is also making the Board of Internal Economy open to all Canadians, and taking steps to reform the Estimates process.
Strengthening Parliament Through the Parliamentary Budget Office
The Parliament of Canada works on behalf of Canadians to advance the best interests of the country. Accountable government is a key pillar of our democracy.
The government is committed to ensuring that Parliament has the necessary information, resources and expertise to consider the financial and economic implications of the matters before it, and to hold the government to account.
To enhance that access, the government will introduce new legislation to establish the Parliamentary Budget Officer as an independent Officer of Parliament, separate from the Library of Parliament. With these changes, the Parliamentary Budget Officer will serve Parliament with a renewed mandate to focus on the costing and finances of the federal government. Like other Officers of Parliament, the appointment will be based on merit, and the Parliamentary Budget Officer will only be removable for cause instead of serving at the pleasure of the sitting government.
The new legislation will also grant the Parliamentary Budget Officer greater access to relevant information held by departments and Crown corporations, balanced against necessary restrictions, such as protection of privacy, commercially sensitive information and issues of national security.
Finally, the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s mandate will include, for the first time, costing of platform proposals at the request of political parties to ensure Canadians have a credible non-partisan way to assess a party’s fiscal plans.
Evidence-Based Policy Through a Stronger Statistics Canada
Data on economic, demographic, social and environmental factors provide critical information and help Canadians and their governments make informed decisions. Reliable data also enable Canadians and their governments to establish and measure key national indicators, design policy solutions, and evaluate and monitor implementation.
The government proposes to amend legislation to reinforce the independence of Statistics Canada, which in the past has been a matter of convention. These proposed amendments will entrench into law the authority of the Chief Statistician of Canada to make decisions on statistical methodology and the production and release of official statistics, and will ensure transparency around decision-making. The proposed legislation will ensure that the appointment of the Chief Statistician will be to fixed five-year terms based on merit, with the Chief Statistician only removable for cause, not at the pleasure of the government. The National Statistics Council will also be replaced with a newly created Canadian Statistics Advisory Council to reinforce independence, relevance and transparency in the national statistical system.
These changes will protect the integrity of Statistics Canada and the valuable information it provides.
The government intends to make Parliament’s Board of Internal Economy meetings open by default so Canadians can get a clearer appreciation of the inner workings of their Parliament. The Board of Internal Economy is the body that makes decisions and provides direction on financial and administrative matters of the House of Commons.
The government is also committed to empowering Parliamentarians through the provision of better information and financial documents that are easier to understand. Over the coming months, the government will work with Parliamentarians to ensure that procedures are in place to better sequence the budget and Main Estimates. This will help form a clearer link between the economic plan set out in the budget and the spending plan in the Estimates.
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