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ARCHIVED - Governor General Special Warrants

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With the dissolution of Parliament on March 26, 2011, for the purposes of a general election, the appropriation bills related to the 2010–11 Supplementary Estimates (C) and the 2011–12 Main Estimates were not voted on by Parliament and did not receive Royal Assent. This means that the Government will not be able to fund its work through the regular supply process.

However, funds must be available to ensure that the normal operations of Government continue until a new Parliament is formed. For example, when Parliament is dissolved, services to Canadians, such as food safety programs benefits and payments related to income support benefits, must continue to be provided.

The established procedure for obtaining funds while Parliament is dissolved is through Governor General's special warrants.

Funds provided through a special warrant are for Government business that has received the appropriate approvals from Cabinet and Treasury Board. Statutory payments for expenditures approved through enabling legislation, for example Old Age Security payments, do not require a special warrant to proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Conditions on the use of Special Warrants

The Financial Administration Act allows the Governor General to issue special warrants to provide funds so that the Government can continue its work following the dissolution of Parliament.

Section 30(1) of the Financial Administration Act requires the following conditions to be met before special warrants can be issued:

  • Parliament is dissolved.
  • A minister has reported that the payment is "urgently required for the public good."
  • The President of the Treasury Board has reported that "there is no appropriation [a sum of money allocated by Parliament] for the payment."

The Financial Administration Act restricts special warrants to payments "urgently required for the public good." This includes payments required to ensure the normal operations of Government, such as delivering ongoing programs and meeting contractual obligations.

Special warrants cannot be used for the following purposes:

  • increasing or establishing new grants;
  • forgiving or writing off debts;
  • changing limits on the issuance of loans or loan guarantees;
  • creating new organizations or programs that require new votes (spending authorities);
  • transferring funds between votes; and
  • approving revenue re-spending authorities or revolving funds.

Accountability and reporting

The amounts for special warrants are drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is the general pool of all income of the federal government such as tax, tariff and licence-fee income, and profits from Crown corporations. Funds received by the federal government must be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and be properly accounted for.

The Financial Administration Act requires that every special warrant be published in the Canada Gazette, the official newspaper of the Government of Canada, within the 30 days following the special warrant's issuance.

Furthermore, within the 15 days following Parliament's reopening, the Government must table a statement in the House of Commons showing all the special warrants that were issued while Parliament was not sitting. According to subsection 30 (4) of the Financial Administration Act, these amounts are deemed to be included in the next appropriation bill. These amounts are reflected in the next supply bill but are not voted on.