Thank you, Mr. Chair.
As per your committee order of reference related to vote 1 under the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer's main estimates for 2018-19, I am glad to report that our estimates have been considered by the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, who conducted their thorough due diligence. Following that, the PBO's CFO and DCFO—Sloane Mask—exercised oversight attesting to our budget requirements. As per parliamentary procedure, our budget has been referred to your committee for final approval.
The PBO's budget totals $7.6 million, including a total voted budgetary requirement of $7 million, as well as a statutory budget component of $600,000 to fund the employee benefits program.
The budgetary request for the PBO's first full financial cycle as an independent entity supports the fulfillment of Parliament’s desire for transparent, timely, and credible electoral platform costing, in addition to funding non-recurring transition expenses to establish the office in accordance with Bill C-44. The request can be detailed as follows: a transferred appropriation from the Library of Parliament of $2.6 million for direct operating costs; $1.5 million to enhance economic, analytical, and administrative capacity; and $2.9 million for professional service and transition requirements.
For the current year, the $7 million is because of the transition to a new structure—outside the Library of Parliament—through the requirement to establish service agreements and the anticipated increase in requests from parliamentarians and parliamentary committees because of changes to our mandate.
For the next fiscal year, which also corresponds to a general election year, the amount requested will be $7 million as well, but this time mainly because of the statutory obligation to assess the cost of election platforms. Subsequently, the annual budget of the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), will decline once again to $6.5 million a year. It will be constant during the first three years of the new, or the next Parliament.
As per the PBO's legislative mandate to provide impartial, independent analysis to help parliamentarians fulfill their constitutional role, which consists of holding government accountable, we published last week a report on the 2018-19 main estimates, which support the second appropriation bill for the current fiscal year. It follows the 2018-19 interim estimates, which was tabled in Parliament on February 12, 2018.
The government's expenditure plan and main estimates for 2018-19 outline $276 billion in total budgetary spending authorities. This represents an increase of approximately $18.1 billion compared to the total budgetary authorities identified last year, in 2017-18.
Statutory budgetary authorities are projected to be $163 billion in 2018-19, which is an increase of $7.2 billion compared to the total estimated statutory spending in 2017-18. Seniors' benefits and the Canada health transfer are two of the largest contributors to this increase, and are set to rise by $2.6 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.
The federal organizations with the largest increase in their total budgetary authorities from the main estimates 2017-18 are the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, with $7.1 billion; Finance, with $3.8 billion; Employment and Social Development Canada, with $3.5 billion; National Defence, with $1.7 billion; and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, with $709 million.
Finally, Mr. Chair, in November 2016, the PBO applauded the government's objective to enhance Parliament's role in upfront financial scrutiny. More recently, in our May 1 report, we said that the changes reflect an effort on the part of the government to improve alignment between the budget and the estimates. However, full reform requires that alignment to be accompanied by an alignment with parliamentary procedure, which means providing clear, specific, and transparent information to members in the object of the vote itself, which we haven't seen and therefore reported.
We welcome the statement of the President of the Treasury Board, who said that he would now correct the situation by including the table in the vote for the supply bill.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We will be happy to answer your questions.