Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We are now at the paragraph entitled “Approval” on page 81. This is one of the most debated provisions; it refers to the approval of the work plan by the Speakers of the two Houses of Parliament. As the members of the committee can see in their packages, our objective is to replace this provision with three distinct paragraphs stating that the PBO establishes a work plan which is updated to take into account any changes that might occur in the finances or economy of the country.
And so, we are not talking here about approval by the Speakers of the two Houses. We say, rather, that the parliamentary budget officer will transmit his work plan to the Speakers of the two Houses in order that it may be tabled before each House. Afterwards, the process is similar to what other officers of Parliament do when they table annual reports in Parliament. We are talking here about a work plan, but the process would be similar to what is already being done.
Once the work plan has been tabled before the Houses, it would be made public, probably on the Internet. In this way, Canadians, parliamentarians and everyone could see the work plan of the parliamentary budget officer for the year to come. It is not a major change. Or rather, yes, in fact it is: we are still talking about a work plan, but we are completely removing the obligation that it be approved by the Speakers of the two Houses. As we saw in debates here at the committee and in debates at the House of Commons, it is a factor that seriously limits his independence.
The NDP thus proposes to solve this problem by giving the PBO the opportunity to prepare a work plan, to table it before the two Houses, and to publish it without the requirement of having it approved by anyone. He is independent, he does what he likes and all he has to do is table his work plan every year before Parliament.
I hope my colleagues will support this sensible amendment which responds to some serious criticism made by the opposition as well as by the experts, the parliamentary budget officer himself, and the former parliamentary budget officer. Anyone who has looked at this file closely has said the same thing, and our amendment is a response to that criticism.
And so I hope that I will have the support of all my colleagues around this table.