Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2017-18—Third ReadingPublished on 21 June 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators. I was hoping there might be some comment from the Government Representative or the committee with respect to this particular piece of legislation, since honourable senators are being asked to approve the expenditure of $3.752 billion. There should be some comment, in my view, with respect to the fact that we are approving that amount of spending.
Honourable senators will know that this is the third reading of this bill. The Supplementary Estimates (A) we received in this chamber earlier were sent to the Finance Committee and Finance looked at those estimates, like for a pre-study for the bill. It is not specifically defined as a pre-study, but it is where we get the inspiration for pre-studies, from the peculiar manner in which we have handled the estimates over the years.
So there is a report on the estimates that came back, we dealt with that report and Senator Mockler, as chair of the Finance Committee, spoke on the report yesterday and then we proceeded to second reading of the bill.
Now, my view was that we shouldn’t go to committee on this supply bill, again, like we do on a pre-study; we don’t go to committee in Finance with respect to estimates. So we dealt with the report, dealt with second reading and now we are into third reading, and it is somewhat of a pro forma bill in the front part.
It’s important that we check the bill. I have checked it and checked the schedules, and honourable senators will recall that, not that long ago, we checked the schedules for a supply bill and they weren’t there. That’s why we check these things. It would have been total chaos if we had adopted that earlier bill without looking at it. Somehow, it got to us and it went through the House of Commons without any schedule and without any indication where the money was going.
And in this case it would have been $3.752 billion that would have been floating around out there that the government could have done whatever with because we authorized the expenditure without saying where it should go.
Fortunately, that’s not the case here, but that’s to remind you that this is an important process we do, as a Senate. We have an important role to play. That was the point I wanted to make on this, and it applies equally to the $257 billion that we approved yesterday in relation to main funding for the rest of this fiscal year in Bill C-53.
Regarding the two schedules: Schedule 1 is what can be expended in this fiscal year and in schedule 2 are special agencies that, because of the nature of their business, have two years within which to spend the money. If it is not spent in one year or two years, depending on the schedule, then the money is ceded back to general revenue, not to the government, from various departments and the process starts again.
That’s the process we are involved in. It always comes very late in June and December, honourable senators. I don’t intend to propose any changes to this particular document. I think the work that was done by Finance was thorough. I’ve reviewed the report. I couldn’t attend all the meetings, but I did review the report and the work that was done. I congratulate all members of Finance, including the chair and deputy chair, and I would recommend that we adopt this particular bill allowing for expenditure of $3.72 billion.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.