The Parliamentary Budget Officer might take legal action against the federal government over the refusal by 64 departments and agencies to comply with his repeated requests for financial information relating to Budget 2012.
Page, whose office was created through the Parliament of Canada Act, hinted at the possible legal action in a June 18 letter to the Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters.
Page’s letter reads:
On April 12, 2012, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) requested from certain deputy heads “information pertaining to the savings measures undertaken
within your department” relating to Budget 2012. The PBO cited s 79.3(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act as authority for making the request.
Eighteen of eighty-two departments complied.
On May 15, 2012, the Clerk of the Privy Council responded on behalf of all deputy heads. The Clerk raised concerns about providing the information requested, including a concern about the government’s contractual obligations under collective agreements.
The Clerk said that the government will provide “information” to affected employees and their unions, begin to implement the reductions, and communicate
accordingly. The Clerk enclosed a summary of planned spending reductions and undertook to provide further summary-type information.
On May 30, 2012, the PBO renewed his request to the Clerk. The PBO observed that deputy heads are required to provide the information requested and that the statutory exceptions to this requirement are inapplicable to the April 12, 2012 request.
This memorandum reviews the legal basis for the requirement to provide the information requested by the PBO. The memorandum concludes that the sixty-four
departments that have not yet provided the requested information to the PBO are not acting in compliance with the Act.
The Act requires the provision of financial and economic data in a timely manner. No legal exception to this requirement has been advanced, and none appears from the analysis of the correspondence exchanged. Accordingly, the non-compliant departments have statutory obligations to provide the information.
Read Page’s letter HERE.
Photo credits: (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press), via The Media Co-op
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