Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, I want to make the same point again. This is for the first quarter of this fiscal year, running from April 1 through to June 30. We will be asked to do full supply in late June, but in the meantime, we are asked to give the government money to carry on. The full amount that we are being asked to vote on in Bill C-73 is $30,907,000,000. With that, when you go home tonight, you’ll say, “I authorized the expenditure of $30 billion.”
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Senator Day: There is one other point I wanted to make with this, and it was made by Senator Mockler yesterday. I think it’s important for us to know that we are in transition with respect to these estimates and the voted appropriations, because there are appropriations that happen in statutes that are not in that number I just cited.
We are dealing with a new estimate process and procedure, and the attempt is to try and have the Main Estimates reflect what was in the budget, which is absolutely the right thing to do. But during this transition until we sort it out, the $30 billion that you are being asked to approve for the first quarter of this year is based on last year’s estimates and last year’s expenditures, and that seems a little strange. You would hope that the government would look at the expenditures of the previous year and determine which programs should continue and which ones should not. Did they overspend in a particular area? Did they need the same amount? Those discussions, as I understand from Senator Mockler, the chair of the National Finance Committee, haven’t taken place yet.
We are being asked to vote on spending $30 billion based on what already happened last year and what the estimates were last year. There is a little danger in that and a lack of transparency that I know the Finance Committee will keep an eye on because they raised it yesterday. Thank you, honourable senators.