Introduction to the Public Accounts of Canada
Nature of the 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 fiscal year of the Government, which ends on March 31.
The information contained in the report originates from two sources of data:
- the summarized financial transactions presented in the accounts of Canada, maintained by the Receiver General
- the detailed records, maintained by departments and agencies
Each department and agency is responsible for reconciling its accounts to the control accounts of the Receiver General, and for maintaining detailed records of the transactions in their accounts.
The report covers the financial transactions of the Government during the year. In certain cases, parliamentary authority to undertake transactions was provided by legislation approved in earlier years.
Format of the Public Accounts of Canada
The Public Accounts of Canada is produced in 3 volumes.
- Volume I presents the audited consolidated financial statements of the Government, as well as additional financial information and analyses
- Volume II presents the financial operations of the Government, segregated by ministry
- Volume III presents supplementary information and analyses
The content of Volume II is summarized as follows:
Summary tables and appendices (section 1)
Section 1 includes summary tables which provide the summaries of the financial transactions contained in the ministerial sections.
Section 1 also includes, as appendices, the full wording of all authorities granted in current year appropriation acts, of all authorities granted by statutes other than appropriation acts, of all authorities available from previous years, of all non-lapsing authorities granted/repealed in the current year, and of all authorities for the spending of proceeds from the disposal of surplus Crown assets.
Ministerial sections (sections 2 to 29)
There is one section for each ministry. The departments and agencies, for which a minister is responsible to Parliament, are grouped together to provide a total ministry presentation. Each ministerial section provides a description for each of the core responsibilities. Each ministerial section also includes, where applicable, a uniform set of statements to present each ministry's financial operations, descriptions of which follow.
The ministry summary statement displays by department and agency the source and disposition of each budgetary and non-budgetary authority granted by Parliament in Appropriation Acts and other statutes.
Budgetary details by allotment
The budgetary details by allotment statement displays by department and agency a distribution of budgetary appropriations by allotment as approved by Treasury Board pursuant to section 31 of the Financial Administration Act, together with related current year expenditures. Explanation of the relevant details provided in this statement follows.
Frozen allotments are created when departments and agencies are directed to lapse funds or when access to funds is restricted until a specific condition is met. Frozen allotments are created for a variety of reasons including the reprofiling of initiatives to future years
Special purpose allotments
Special purpose allotments are used to restrict the use of funds to specific programs or initiatives. These restrictions prevent departments and agencies from reallocating special purpose funding to other priorities
Lapsed or (overexpended)
Lapsed or (overexpended) is calculated as the total authority available for use in the current year less the total of a) the amount used in the current year and b) the amount available for use in subsequent years. The calculated lapse, also known as "gross lapse", includes funding placed in a frozen allotment or in a special purpose allotment
The core responsibilities statement displays by department and agency the total authorities available for use and the authorities used in the current year for each core responsibility under each type of expenditure (operating, capital, transfer payments and non-budgetary).
The transfer payments statement displays by department and agency the source and disposition of authorities for each transfer payment.
Details of respendable amounts
The details of respendable amounts statement displays by department and agency the nature of revenues and receipts which increase the amounts which may be spent from appropriations having net voting authority.
The revenues statement displays by department and agency the nature of revenues under each main revenue classification.
The statements in the ministerial sections are designed so that the relevant totals and sub-totals may be traced directly to a preceding statement and then to the summary tables in section 1 (e.g. data in the transfer payments statement can be traced to the core responsibilities statement, which in turn can be traced to the ministry summary statement; data in the ministry summary statement can be traced to the summary tables (5, 6 and 7) in section 1).
Source and disposition of authorities
Volume II is designed to reflect as closely as possible the form and content of Part II of the Main Estimates. Certain summary tables and appendices and the Ministry Summary in the ministerial sections display the source and disposition of spending authorities. The level of details provided for the source and disposition of authorities is explained here.
Available from previous years
Spending authorities allowed to be brought forward from the previous year. Includes only those authorities where there is a specified dollar limit on total spending, or on the accumulated outstanding balance of items where revenues and receipts are available for spending. Usually these items represent revolving funds, proceeds from the disposal of surplus Crown assets or loans authorities. These amounts are available for spending without further approval from Parliament.
Main and Supplementary Estimates
Include the spending authorities requested in the Estimates as well as forecasts included in the Estimates of spending under authorities granted in various other statutes including appropriation acts of previous years.
Adjustments, warrants and transfers
Adjustments, warrants and transfers include:
- transfers from or to other ministries such as Treasury Board Votes 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 35 and 40 or changes in ministry responsibility
- transfers within the ministry from one vote to another (under parliamentary authority), or between transfer payments
- any unexpended amounts from or to other ministries as deemed appropriations pursuant to section 31.1 of the Financial Administration Act
- changes to statutory amounts due to adjustments of spending forecasts included in the Estimates, due to cancellation or amendment to statutes or due to adjustments of Crown corporations borrowing authorities
- amounts of previous years' over expenditures paid or settled in the current year and proceeds from the disposal of surplus Crown assets
- Governor General special warrants to cover payments that are required when Parliament is dissolved for a general election
Total available for use
Authorities available for spending during the current year (net of forecasted revenues and receipts available for spending).
Used in the current year
Amounts spent in the current year (net of actual revenues and receipts available for spending).
Lapsed (variance under)
The amount of the lapse is the total authority available for use in the current year less the total of a) amount used in the current year and b) the amount available for use in subsequent years.
Overexpended (variance over)
Excess of spending over authorities granted.
Available for use in subsequent years
Unused spending authorities which have not lapsed and which are carried forward to a subsequent year.
Used in the previous year
Amounts spent in the previous year (net of actual revenues and receipts available for spending). For authorities or transfer payments that no longer exist in the current year, the related total net expenditures of the previous year are reported as a single amount in line with the notation "Appropriations (items) not required for the current year".
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