The Reporting Cycle for Government Expenditures
1. Beginning the cycle
The fiscal year of the Government of Canada runs from April 1 to March 31. However, the planning for the fiscal year begins well in advance with the preparation of departmental budgetary priorities, and the pre-budget consultations by the Standing Committee on Finance. This committee may report on its pre-budget consultations for the upcoming fiscal year by mid-December.
Beginning of fiscal year April 1st
January to March
- Tabling of Supplementary Estimates (B)
- Tabling of Interim Estimates
- Federal Budget presentation
- Approval of appropriation bill(s)
April to June
- Tabling of Main Estimates
- Tabling of Departmental Plans
- Approval of appropriation bill(s)
- Financial Statements
- Quarterly Financial Report – June 30th (Q1)
September to December
- Tabling of Public Accounts
- Tabling of Supplementary Estimates (A)
- Tabling of Departmental Results Reports
- Economic and Fiscal Updates
- Approval of appropriation bill(s)
- Quarterly Financial Report – September 30th (Q2)
- Quarterly Financial Report – December 31st (Q3)
The government’s efforts to reconcile its spending obligations and revenue projections are reflected in the Federal Budget. The budget outlines the government’s fiscal, social and economic policies and priorities, while the Main Estimates set out, in detail, its projected expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget, usually tabled early in the year, is generally preceded in the fall by another major statement, the Economic and Fiscal Update.
The expenditure plans are submitted to the House of Commons (HOC) in their consolidated form as the Main Estimates. They provide a listing of the resources required by individual departments and agencies for the upcoming fiscal year in order to deliver the programs for which they are responsible. The Main Estimates identify the spending authorities (votes) and the amounts to be included in subsequent appropriation bills that Parliament will be asked to approve to enable the government to proceed with its spending plans. Expenditures made by government require the authority of Parliament. Under normal circumstances, the Main Estimates are tabled in the HOC on or before March 1 for the upcoming fiscal year and submitted for concurrence by the HOC no later than June 23.
Since the fiscal year begins on April 1 and the normal supply cycle only provides for the HOC to decide on Main Estimates in June, the HOC authorizes an advance on the funds requested in the Main Estimates, known as Interim Supply. These funds, approved no later than March 26, cover the needs of the public service from the start of the new fiscal year on April 1 to the date on which the appropriation act, based on the Main Estimates of that year, is passed. The Interim Supply usually covers an advance of three (3) months’ funding (out of 12 months, therefore 3/12).
Departmental Plans are expenditure plans for each appropriated department and agency (excluding Crown corporations). They describe departmental priorities, strategic outcomes, programs, expected results and associated resource requirements, covering a three-year period beginning with the year indicated in the title of the report. Departmental Plans are tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board on behalf of the ministers who preside over the appropriation-dependent departments and agencies identified in Schedules I, I.1 and II of the Financial Administration Act. These reports are usually tabled in March or April of each financial year.
2. During the year
Supplementary Estimates are part of the normal parliamentary approval process to ensure that previously planned government initiatives receive the necessary funding to move them forward, therefore meeting the needs of Canadians. Supplementary Estimates present information to Parliament on the government’s spending requirements that were not sufficiently developed in time for inclusion in the Main Estimates.
Supplementary Estimates are published during the fiscal year. Each publication is listed in alphabetical order (A, B). While two Supplementary Estimates exercises are possible for 2019–20, it is important to note that one or more will be directed exercises from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat; i.e. by invitation only, with similar timelines as in previous years, since there will be an election this fall.
Quarterly Financial Reports
The reports have a narrative section that provides concise discussion on the significant changes affecting both the quarter and year-to-date financial results, and changes in relation to operations, personnel and programs. The reports also include financial tables comparing planned and actual expenditures for both the quarter and year-to-date, as well as comparative information for the preceding fiscal year. These reports are published on LAC's website for each of the first three quarters of the fiscal year, no later than 60 days after the end of the reporting period.
3. Closing the loop: Public Accounts and the Auditor General’s Report
The Public Accounts of Canada and the Annual Report of the Auditor General are tabled before December 31 in the year to which they apply. Review of these reports by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts completes the government’s annual cycle of financial transactions.
- Public Accounts of Canada
The Public Accounts of Canada is the report of the Government of Canada prepared annually by the Receiver General, as required by section 64 of the Financial Administration Act. It covers the government’s fiscal year, which ends on March 31.
- Departmental Results Reports
Departmental Results Reports are also tabled during the first supply period, which usually occurs in November or December. These reports complement the Public Accounts of Canada by providing information to parliamentarians and Canadians on the results achieved by government organizations for Canadians.
- Financial Statements and Internal Control over Financial Reporting
The objective of the Financial Statements is to demonstrate accountability for the resources provided to and managed by a department on behalf of the government. Users of departmental financial statements should have the ability to compare financial performance among federal government departments. Accordingly, one important feature of departmental financial statements is to provide users with comparable information on departments’ results of operations and financial position.
The Annual Statement of Management Responsibility, including Internal Control over Financial Reporting, includes a summary of the results of the annual assessment of the system of internal control over financial reporting. It also includes actions taken and future plans, and the results of the annual assessment of the system of internal control over common services when providing such services to other departments.
Departmental Information and Internal Financial Planning Library and Archives Canada
- The first step in the internal financial planning exercise is the Integrated Operational Process (IOP). This exercise is usually launched in October. This important corporate exercise allows all sectors to identify their priorities as well as their resource requirements over the next three (3) fiscal years. This plan is used to guide the development of LAC’s multi-year financial strategy, to meet the needs of the organization and to ensure the sustainability of multi-year projects and initiatives.
- Following the IOP, the consolidated financial requirements are presented to Management Board (MB) and other governance committees for discussion and decision making to ensure alignment of plans and initial budget allocation to sectors. This step is usually done in March of each year.
- Following the initial budget allocation in April, on a monthly basis, DGs and ADMs are asked to review and monitor, in collaboration with their financial and human resources advisors, their financial situation.
- On a quarterly basis, LAC’s anticipated financial situation is presented to MB in order to rigorously monitor the financial situation and put in place the necessary strategies to manage risks, adapt to emerging priorities and position the organization for future obligations.
Financial resources snapshot
This table indicates dollar figures for the financial results for the fiscal year 2018–2019 as well as the dollar figures for the 2019-2020 Main Estimates, including the full time equivalent for both fiscal years.
|Operating Vote 1 - Salaries and Wages
|Operating Vote 1 - Operating & Maintenance
|Total Operating Vote 1
|Capital Vote 5 – Salaries and Wages
|Capital Vote 5 - Operating & Maintenance
|Total Capital Vote 5
|Statutory (Employee Benefit Plan)
|Full Time Equivalent
View Financial Resources Snapshot
- Considering that the needs identified in the IOP are often greater than the funding available and do not necessarily take into account our capacity to spend, it is common practice for MB to adopt an over-programming strategy.
- To maximize our budget, this over-programming strategy is combined with a risk mitigation strategy (e.g. sector targets) and a potential list of investments to allow for adjustments during the year.
Josée Beaulieu, Manager, Financial Planning and Resource Management