PCO funding letter
31 January 2019
Mr. Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and
Secretary to the Cabinet
Privy Council Office
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3
Dear Mr. Wernick:
We are writing to you about the commitment contained in the mandate letter issued by the Prime Minister which tasked the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to “ensure that Agents of Parliament are properly funded and accountable only to Parliament not the government of the day, in collaboration with the President of the Treasury Board.”
The Minister of Finance and the President of the Treasury Board have informed the Auditor General of Canada that the Privy Council Office has been engaged on this issue and is currently looking into the funding model for Agents of Parliament.
The Privy Council Office’s Mandate Letter Tracker states that the status of this commitment is “Underway – on track”. This Statement is based on the following:
In June 2017, legislation was passed that established the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) as an independent Agent of Parliament, reporting directly to Parliament. This legislation provides the PBO with the ability to request the funds from the Speakers of the House and Senate needed to fulfill their mandate. The Government will continue to work with Agents of Parliament to support their important work.
The undersigned Agents of Parliament have not, however, been engaged by government about putting in place a funding mechanism that will ensure they are properly funded.
Fundamentally, we are seeking an alternative to the existing process that makes all requests for increased funding subject to government control and compromises our independence and accountability to Parliament. We are of the view that, in addition to traditional funding sources, there should be an alternative funding mechanism based on an automatic formula for annual budget adjustments that is directly linked to the mandate and functions of each respective Agent of Parliament.
We request that the Privy Council Office engages with Agent of Parliament without further delay to address this problem so that each Agent of Parliament will be properly funded and the government can meet its stated commitment.
Michael Ferguson, CA, CPA
FCPA, FC (New Brunswick)
Auditor General of Canada
Commissioner of Lobbying
Interim Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Commissioner of Official Languages