Expenditures made by government require the authority of Parliament. That authority is provided in two ways: annual appropriation acts that specify the amounts and broad purposes for which funds can be spent; and other specific statutes that authorize payments and set out the amounts and time periods for those payments.The amounts approved in appropriation acts are referred to as voted amounts, and the expenditure authorities provided through other statutes are called statutory authorities. Estimates documents are prepared to support appropriation acts. As such, the Estimates provide additional information on voted amounts included in the appropriation act. Forecasts of statutory amounts are also presented to give a more complete picture of total parliamentary authorities to be used during the fiscal year.
Once an appropriation act is introduced to Parliament, approved and granted royal assent, it becomes law.
Supplementary Estimates documents present information to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s spending requirements that were not sufficiently developed in time for inclusion in the Main Estimates, and will from time to time include urgent but unforeseen expenditures, such as natural disasters (an ice storm, H1N1, etc.).
An appropriation act begins as a supply bill. Supply bills are prepared for Main and Supplementary Estimates. Once a bill is introduced to Parliament, approved and granted royal assent, it becomes law in the form of an appropriation act. The appropriation act is the vehicle through which expenditures from the consolidated revenue fund are authorized in order to pay for government programs and services.
Governor General’s Special Warrants follow an established process and are used to obtain funds that are urgently required for the public good when Parliament is dissolved for a general election.