Mr. Speaker, a joke keeps playing in my head, but it is better if I keep it to myself. We can talk about it after the debate.
It is a pleasure for me to rise in the House of Commons to speak to the significance of the Auditor General's role.
As everyone in the House knows, the Auditor General provides Parliament with independent, impartial audits of the management of public funds. Through audits, the Auditor General's office provides Parliament with objective, factual information and specialized advice on the government's programs and activities.
This review allows parliamentarians to monitor the government's activities and hold it to account on how it manages taxpayers' money.
It bears repeating that the Auditor General is not accountable to the government of the day. As an officer of Parliament, he reports directly to the House of Commons with objective information so that members of Parliament can hold the government to account.
The Office of the Auditor General has a legislative basis in the Auditor General Act, the Financial Administration Act and a number of other statutes. In fact, it has a long Canadian tradition. The first independent Auditor General of Canada was established in 1878, over 140 years ago. In 1977, the Auditor General Act clarified and expanded the Auditor General's responsibilities.
In addition to examining the accuracy of financial statements, the Auditor General's mandate was expanded to examine how effectively the government managed its affairs. Importantly, the act maintained the principle that the Auditor General does not comment on policy choices, but does examine how policies are implemented.
In 1995, the Auditor General Act was amended to include a specific mandate related to the environment and sustainable development. This mandate is carried out by the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, on behalf of the Auditor General.
Our government appreciates the important work and the history of this institution. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, the reference levels of the Office of the Auditor General increased as a result of the greater volume and complexity of the government's operations and transactions.
This funding helped ensure that the office was able to continue meeting service standards, providing accurate and timely information regarding audits and upgrading its information technology systems.
As a result, the number of full-time employees at the Office of the Auditor General has increased in order to meet its needs.
I see I am almost out of time, but I would like to add one final point.
As my colleagues in the House will know, in order to receive additional funding, any officer of Parliament, including the Auditor General, may make a request to the Minister of Finance, and the government regularly considers such requests to ensure that the office can continue to fulfill its mandate efficiently and effectively.
As an office of Parliament, the Office of the Auditor General will then work closely with the Treasury Board Secretariat to develop a submission to access the funding. This is the standard procedure for any department or office of Parliament seeking funding.
Our government is open to having good conversations with all officers of Parliament, including the Auditor General. We want to make sure that our investments are as effective as possible so that the government continues to work effectively for all Canadians.