Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm delighted to be here, back at your committee, again.
I'm joined here by Joyce Murray, our parliamentary secretary; Yaprak Baltacioglu, secretary of the Treasury Board; Brian Pagan, assistant secretary of the expenditure management sector; and Renée LaFontaine, chief financial officer of Treasury Board Secretariat.
I'm here today to talk to you about the supplementary estimates. With these supplementary estimates, the government is seeking Parliament's approval of funding to address matters of importance to Canadians.
This funding is specifically to support infrastructure, to create more opportunities for aboriginal persons, and to provide home care and mental health services.
The funding set out in the Supplementary Estimates will also serve to follow through on the government's plan to grow and strengthen the middle class in Canada.
We're seeking parliamentary approval of $4.5 billion in additional spending for 71 organizations. As you know, supplementary estimates present information to Parliament on spending that was either not ready for inclusion in the main estimates or has been since refined to account for new developments in programs or services.
This monitoring ability is one of the most important roles we as parliamentarians serve for our fellow citizens. To do this well, parliamentarians must have access to accurate and timely information on government spending.
With that in mind, Mr. Chair, we want to make it easier for Parliament to hold government to account. We are always open to the views of parliamentarians about how to go about this. For example, when I came to the committee in March to talk about supplementary estimates (C), Mr. McCauley made two specific requests about the detail and format of the information that we provide. The first request was to break down funding for horizontal initiatives by department, and second, to provide certain information in an Excel format.
I'm happy to say that we've now delivered on both those requests and we're working on more significant changes. To that end, the House recently agreed to change the date by which the main estimates were tabled, from March 1 to April 16. The date that the estimates should be sent to the House by the relevant standing committee moves from May 31 to June 10. This will begin in the fiscal year 2018-19.
Having main estimates follow the budget makes a great deal of sense, on which I think there is broad agreement, and reflects practice elsewhere. In fact, having the main estimates before the budget—I think that I said it at this committee—was asinine and denied Parliament the opportunity to really scrutinize the main estimates in a properly sequenced and logical manner. Adjusting the dates will ensure that the estimates are more closely aligned with the budget. This will help members conduct more detailed reviews of the estimates and to follow the money. In fact, the PBO noted, in its report released earlier this week, that:
Parliamentarians will note that the Government has decided to table these Supplementary Estimates several weeks earlier than usual, thus providing them with greater opportunity to scrutinize proposed spending.
Ultimately, the more information that parliamentarians and Canadians have, the more they will be able to hold the cabinet and government to account.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that I am committed to working with all parliamentarians to continue to strengthen the estimates process.
My officials and I would be delighted to have your questions now.