I appreciate the 10 minutes.
It is a pleasure to be here again to explain the process surrounding the supplementary estimates (C), and, to introduce the 2018-19 interim estimates.
We have a number of things to discuss today. First of all, I will talk about the changes made to the main estimates to better align with the federal budget. I will then turn to certain aspects of the last supplementary estimates, 2018-19. Third, we will briefly examine the first interim estimates, where you'll find the initial requirements for 2018-19. Finally, I will point out the organizations that are mentioned for the first time in these estimates.
On page 3 of the PowerPoint presentation, we simply set out some of the challenges that this committee would be very familiar with, with respect to their study of the estimates. You will recall that the President of the Treasury Board appeared before you last year on a number of occasions to begin the process of aligning the budget and the estimates and to reform the estimates process. This committee has been very active in that process, including the 2012 study of estimates and supply.
Page 4 is just a very brief summary, a reminder to the committee of the proposals made by the president to improve transparency and alignment. The most common complaint that we've heard about the estimates is the difficulty caused by having a main estimate showing much different planned spending than the federal budget, and there have been two causes for that. The first is that, under previous orders of the House of Commons, the main estimates were tabled on or before March 1, whereas there is no fixed timing for the budget. What has happened over the preceding years is that we were tabling the certainty of the main estimates in advance of the budget. Then we were using supplementary estimate exercises to catch up and to reflect the government's budget priorities for Parliament.
As a result of discussion at this committee and agreement of parties in the House, there has been a change to the Standing Orders so that, for the next two years, we will table the main estimates on or before April 16, and that is to say, after the budget. Timing has been a very important factor in the confusion between the documents.
Another challenge has been the differing scope and accounting methods of the two documents. The budget is comprehensive. It is inclusive of all expenditures of the Government of Canada, including tax expenditures, crown corporations, and consolidated special purpose accounts such as the employment insurance account. It presents parliamentarians with a full view of all federal expenses.
The estimates, in contrast, represent a subset of that federal spending. They represent the cash requirements of departments for a specific fiscal year to deliver the programs and services of government. We understand the challenge, and we have identified means of addressing this, most notably through a reconciliation table that has appeared in the last two exercises in the spring in our supplementary estimates (A), where we do a crosswalk between the expenses in the budget and the expenditures in the supplementary estimates, accounting for accrual differences, tax expenditures, crown corporations, etc.
The third idea advanced by the president was to better use our new focus on results to perhaps identify changes to the vote structure approved by Parliament. Currently, funds are approved by Parliament according to individual votes for departments, and these votes are organized according to function: operating expenses, capital expenses, and grants and contributions expenses.
Our focus on results is bringing some clarity in terms of what departments' core responsibilities are and the specific programs supporting those core responsibilities. We currently have a pilot with Transport Canada to look at their grants and contributions vote and to break that out by purpose. It was proposed by the president that we might expand on that and try additional pilots according to purpose.
The fourth pillar is better reporting. I believe we have improved the format of departmental plans and departmental results reports, and we have presented much more detail online on what we call GC InfoBase.
That is an overview of the proposals, and where we're at.
This year, as a result of the changes to the Standing Orders, we have tabled for the first time the document entitled “2018-19 Interim Estimates”. This allows departments to begin the fiscal year with authorities until full supply for main estimates is voted on in the House in June.
On April 16 we will be tabling the main estimates, which will include as many budget items as we can bring forward for approval. Coinciding with that will be the departmental plans that I mentioned.
Turning to the details of the two documents tabled earlier this week, the first is the supplementary estimates (C), which concludes fiscal year 2017-18. The supplementary estimates (C) provide information on $4 billion in voted budgetary appropriations for 48 organizations. This funding supports many initiatives announced in budget 2017, as well as spending set out in prior budgets, and updated by the Minister of Finance in his fall statement.
The estimates also provide an update on forecasted statutory spending, and through these estimates we are forecasting a reduction in statutory spending of $336 million.
The front end of the supplementary estimates (C) provides an introduction and some detail, including highlighting the major items, the major areas of expenditure over $150 million. These include $622.9 million for the service income security insurance plan, $435 million for defence spending in support of the new defence policy, $277.6 million for military missions, and then a number of other programs and priorities of the government, including the G7 summit and increased spending for veterans.
If we group all the $4 billion according to certain themes, we see that wages and benefits comprise about 25%, or just over a billion dollars; defence totals $746 million, or almost 20%; then we have climate change and the environment at $438.9 million; and indigenous programming at $337.6 million.
I'll be happy to address more questions on supplementary estimates (C).
Before concluding, Madam Chair, just a word on these interim estimates that we tabled. It introduces the interim authorities of 122 organizations, totalling $30.9 billion. Again, this will be complemented by the main estimates to be tabled on April 16. When we compare the interim authorities of $30.9 billion this year to last year, it's very close to what was sought last year as an interim authority of $30.1 billion.
This concludes my introductory comments.