Thank you for raising the topic of the budget implementation vote from last year, which I saw as a step forward from what we had before.
Before, we had a situation where the estimates were tabled first and the budget was tabled afterwards, so the estimates had no relation to the decisions being made by government through the budget as to what spending would be added for the year. That was the disconnect that you as a committee were aiming to improve.
It was improved by the budget implementation vote, by taking all of those budgetary items and putting them in one budget implementation vote, which was broken down by departmental and program intention for those funds so that when they were approved by Treasury Board and forwarded to the departments they could be tracked monthly online.
The committee's concerns that this was not going far enough were very valid. It was an important first step, but we needed to do more. That is exactly what Treasury Board did this year. It took the budgetary funds, broke them into the individual departments' allocations and named what program they were for. They were not discretionary funds for that department; they were targeted to a purpose outlined in the budget. Those funds are now scrutinized by the appropriate committee.
From my perspective and that of Treasury Board, this is another step forward, and a big one, in the direction Parliament has been asking for, which is to have faster and fuller ability to follow the money and to be accountable to Canadians for government spending.