Mr. Speaker, this is in reply to a point of order that was raised by the member for St. Albert and refers to the funding of relief for the home heating expenses program.
In December 2000, the government confirmed through an order in council that it would provide ex gratia payments to individuals and families as a relief for heating expenses. The eligibility to receive the payment would be determined similarly to the eligibility for the goods and services tax credit, with some exclusions for dependants.
As is the case for the goods and services tax credit, the eligibility is founded on the information contained in the income tax and benefit returns filed under the Income Tax Act, in this case the returns for the 1999 tax year.
In order to ensure fairness to all Canadians, payments after 2000-01 have been required for: all eligible Canadians filing a 1999 tax return; Canadians whose 1999 tax returns were reassessed and are now entitled to the payment; or eligible Canadians whose addresses were invalid at the time of the initial issuance of the payment and were subsequently updated.
All of the RHE payments were made as ex gratia payments and charged to CCRA's Vote 1 operating expenditures, as approved by Parliament each year. The ex gratia payments do not require specific parliamentary approval or authority.
Funds for the program were appropriated by Parliament and placed in the CCRA Vote 1 operating expenditures through two Governor General's Special Warrants. No administrative or other limitations were placed on any of these funds other than the requirement to use them for operating purposes.
Subsection 30(2) of the Financial Administration Act deems the Governor General's Special Warrants to be an appropriation, in this case to CCRA's Vote 1 operating expenditures.
Subsection 60(1) of the CCRA act provides authority to carry forward its unused Vote 1 appropriations into the following fiscal year, and these carry-forward funds are the first ones to be used in any subsequent fiscal year, pursuant to subsection 7(2) of the Appropriation Acts. As mentioned earlier, the only limitation is that these funds had to be used for operating purposes. All ex gratia payments made by CCRA for the relief for heating expenses were properly charged in each year to general Vote 1 operating expenditures.
Consequently, CCRA had the necessary authorities to make the RHE payments, both in terms of an order in council for ex gratia payments and the necessary appropriations approved by Parliament. In addition, there is no basis to reduce the CCRA's main estimates as Parliament has already agreed that CCRA may carry forward its unused appropriations.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond, Mr. Speaker. I have tabled my statement, in both official languages, with the Clerk.