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Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act, 2004

S.o. 2004, chapter 27

Consolidation Period:  From December 10, 2015 to the e-Laws currency date.

Last amendment:  2015, c. 38, Sched. 6.

Interpretation

Definitions

1. In this Act,

“Minister” means the Minister of Finance; (“ministre”)

“provincial debt” means, in a year, the accumulated deficit shown in the financial statements for the Province as set out in the Public Accounts for the year; (“dette provinciale”)

“provincial election” means a general election as defined in section 1 of the Election Act; (“élections provinciales”)

“release” means make available for inspection by the public; (“rendre public”)

“year” means the fiscal year of the Province. (“exercice”)  2004, c. 27, s. 1.

Governing Principles

Principles governing fiscal policy

2. The following principles govern Ontario’s fiscal policy:

1. Responsibility:  Ontario’s fiscal policy should be based on cautious assumptions.

2. Flexibility:  it should recognize the need to respond to changing circumstances.

3. Equity:  its impact on different groups within the population and on future generations should be considered.

4. Transparency:  it should be clearly articulated and information about it should be readily available for inspection by the public without charge.  2004, c. 27, s. 2.

Provincial debt

3. Ontario’s fiscal policy must seek to maintain a prudent ratio of provincial debt to Ontario’s gross domestic product.  2004, c. 27, s. 3.

Balanced budget

4. (1) For each fiscal year, the Executive Council shall plan for a balanced budget unless, as a result of extraordinary circumstances, the Executive Council determines that it is consistent with prudent fiscal policy for the Province to have a deficit for a fiscal year.  2004, c. 27, s. 4 (1).

Same

(2) A balanced budget for a year is a budget in which expenses for the year, including a reserve, do not exceed revenues for the year.  2004, c. 27, s. 4 (2).

Recovery plan

(3) If the Executive Council plans for a deficit for a fiscal year, the Executive Council shall also develop a recovery plan for achieving a balanced budget in the future and the recovery plan must specify the manner in which and the period within which the balanced budget will be achieved.  2004, c. 27, s. 4 (3).

Same

(4) The recovery plan must be consistent with the principles governing Ontario’s fiscal policy.  2004, c. 27, s. 4 (4).

Information for the Public

Multi-year fiscal plan

5. (1) Each year, the Minister shall release a multi-year fiscal plan in the Budget papers that are laid before the Assembly.  2004, c. 27, s. 5 (1).

Period of the plan

(2) The fiscal plan must address the fiscal year of the Budget and the following two years, and it may address a longer period.  2004, c. 27, s. 5 (2).

Contents

(3) The fiscal plan must include the following information:

1. Ontario’s fiscal policy objectives for the period of the plan.

2. The macroeconomic forecasts and assumptions used to prepare the Budget and the plan and a description of any significant differences from the forecasts and assumptions used to prepare the previous Budget and plan.

3. An estimate of Ontario’s revenues and expenses for the period of the plan, including estimates of the major components of the revenues and expenses.

4. Details of the reserve described in subsection (4).

5. A comprehensive discussion of the risks that, in the Minister’s opinion, may have a material impact on the economy or the public sector during the period of the plan.

6. A description of the intended effects of the plan on the province.

7. Information about the ratio of provincial debt to Ontario’s gross domestic product.

8. If a deficit is anticipated, the details of the recovery plan required by subsection 4 (3).  2004, c. 27, s. 5 (3).

Reserve for unexpected adverse changes

(4) The fiscal plan must include a reserve to provide for unexpected adverse changes in revenues and expenses, in whole or in part.  2004, c. 27, s. 5 (4).

Comprehensive discussion of risks

(5) The comprehensive discussion of risks must include information about the following matters if, in the Minister’s opinion, they may have a material impact on the economy or the public sector during the period of the plan:

1. The contingent liabilities of the Province.

2. The potential impact of a variation in the macroeconomic forecasts.

3. Matters that have not otherwise been addressed in the plan because of uncertainty about the likelihood or timing of their occurrence or the magnitude of their impact.

4. Risks associated with any assumptions about public sector labour costs during the period of the plan.  2004, c. 27, s. 5 (5).

Mid-year review of the fiscal plan

6. (1) Each year on or before November 15, the Minister shall release a mid-year review of the fiscal plan.  2004, c. 27, s. 6 (1).

Information for pre-Budget consultations

(2) The mid-year review must include the following information for the purpose of pre-Budget consultations with the public:

1. A description of the key issues that, in the Minister’s opinion, should be addressed in the next Budget.

2. Information about the estimated cost of expenditures that are made through the tax system.

3. Details about how to participate in the pre-Budget consultations.  2004, c. 27, s. 6 (2).

Exception

(3) No mid-year review is required in such circumstances as may be prescribed by regulation.  2004, c. 27, s. 6 (3).

Interim updates about revenues and expenses

7. Each year on or before August 15 and on or before February 15, the Minister shall release updated information about Ontario’s revenues and expenses for the current year, including updated information about the major components of the revenues and expenses as set out in the fiscal plan.  2004, c. 27, s. 7.

Quarterly information about Ontario’s economic accounts

8. Within 45 days after Statistics Canada publishes quarterly information about Canada’s National Income and Expenditure Accounts, the Minister shall release Ontario’s economic accounts for the same quarter.  2004, c. 27, s. 8.

Long-range assessment of the fiscal environment

9. (1) Within two years after each provincial election, the Minister shall release a long-range assessment of Ontario’s fiscal environment.  2004, c. 27, s. 9 (1).

Content

(2) The long-range assessment must include the following information:

1. A description of anticipated changes in the economy and in population demographics during the following 20 years.

2. A description of the potential impact of these changes on the public sector and on Ontario’s fiscal policy during that period.

3. An analysis of key issues of fiscal policy that, in the Minister’s opinion, are likely to affect the long-term sustainability of the economy and of the public sector.  2004, c. 27, s. 9 (2).

Pre-election report about Ontario’s finances

10. (1) In such circumstances as may be prescribed by regulation, the Ministry of Finance shall release a pre-election report about Ontario’s finances and shall do so before the deadline established by regulation.  2004, c. 27, s. 10 (1).

Contents

(2) The pre-election report must include the following information, updated from the most recent fiscal plan:

1. The macroeconomic forecasts and assumptions that were used to prepare the fiscal plan and a description of any significant differences from those forecasts and assumptions.

2. An estimate of Ontario’s revenues and expenses, including estimates of the major components of the revenues and expenses as set out in the plan.

3. Details of the reserve described in subsection 5 (4).

4. Information about the ratio of provincial debt to Ontario’s gross domestic product.  2004, c. 27, s. 10 (2).

Review by the Auditor General

(3) The Auditor General shall promptly review the pre-election report to determine whether it is reasonable, and shall release a statement describing the results of the review.  2004, c. 27, s. 10 (3, 5).

Same

(4) Sections 10, 11 and 11.1 of the Auditor General Act apply, with necessary modifications, with respect to the Auditor General’s review.  2004, c. 27, s. 10 (4, 5).

(5) Spent:  2004, c. 27, s. 10 (5).

Statement about non-compliance

11. (1) If the Minister does not release information required by this Act on or before the specified deadline, the Minister shall release a statement on or before that deadline in which the Minister explains why the required information was not so released.  2004, c. 27, s. 11 (1).

Same

(2) The Minister shall release the statement by laying it before the Assembly and may release it by other means.  2004, c. 27, s. 11 (2).

Debate in the Assembly

(3) In accordance with the Standing Orders of the Assembly, the Assembly may debate a motion to discuss the statement.  2004, c. 27, s. 11 (3).

General

12. Repealed:  2015, c. 38, Sched. 6.

Manner of releasing information

13. A requirement in this Act to release information is satisfied if a document containing the information is laid before the Assembly or if the information is made readily available in another manner for inspection by the public without charge.  2004, c. 27, s. 13.

Immunity

14. No action or other proceeding may be brought in respect of a requirement of this Act.  2004, c. 27, s. 14.

Expenditures under the Investing in Ontario Act, 2008

14.1 An expenditure incurred by the Government of Ontario in respect of a fiscal year under the Investing in Ontario Act, 2008 shall be considered to be an expense of the Government of Ontario for that fiscal year for the purposes of this Act.  2008, c. 6, s. 4.

Regulations

15. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation,

(a) prescribe circumstances in which no mid-year review is required;

(b) prescribe the circumstances in which a pre-election report must be released and establish a deadline for its release.  2004, c. 27, s. 15.

16. Omitted (amends or repeals other Acts).  2004, c. 27, s. 16.

17. Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Act).  2004, c. 27, s. 17.

18. Omitted (enacts short title of this Act).  2004, c. 27, s. 18.

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