What I'm zeroing in on is this. There's an issue for parliamentarians here. In the old system, where you would introduce the interim supply alongside the main estimates, you could base your interim supply on a percentage, whether it be three-twelfths, four-twelfths, five-twelfths, or six-twelfths, for that matter, of what was being requested in the mains, the projected spending for the coming year. Now that the mains are being tabled after the beginning of the fiscal year, there's obviously a need for some kind of interim supply or interim estimates to be approved so that departments don't have to put their spending on hold for two or four weeks or longer.
We've had departments come here and tell us that they continue to base the number on their projected main estimates. Now, as a parliamentarian, I think that's kind of weird. I would think it would be something your department and the Ministry of Finance might be concerned about. What it means is that we're being told, essentially, or we can figure out by implication, what the spending demand will be in the main estimates before they're tabled. Just for ease of example, if departments come here and say, “We're asking for $5 million for next year, which is 25% of our projected spending for the year”, then we know, before the main estimates are tabled, that they will be asking for $20 million. That doesn't make sense. It made sense under the old system, because the mains would be tabled at the same time and we would know that they were asking for $20 million.
I don't think there's necessarily anything untoward going on, but if you care about the process, this really does matter. I've asked them to tell us what communication they received from Treasury Board informing them of the change from interim supply to interim estimates. Now I'm asking you to tell us what work was done by Treasury Board to ensure that departments and agencies understood this watershed change and a number of other things that came with that along with the budget implementation vote and a bunch of other stuff.
What due diligence was Treasury Board doing to ensure that people understood they were now being asked to base their interim estimates on the previous year's supply as opposed to the projected fiscal year's supply?