Feds aim to tighten rules on budget watchdog

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has tabled legislation which, once passed, will place new restrictions on the parliamentary budget officer.

The so-called budget implementation act would mandate the federal watchdog to submit its annual work plans to the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons for approval.

The proposed changes would also prevent the PBO from making a report public until a day after it provides it to the parliamentary committee that requested the research or to the Speakers.

If passed into law, these moves would tighten the rules on the independence of the budget office, which is designed to serve parliamentarians as an non-partisan check on the management of government finances.

Assistant parliamentary budget officer Mostafa Askari says he will study the bill carefully to determine whether the changes might affect the credibility and the effectiveness of the PBO.

The changes would also make the PBO an independent Officer of Parliament, ensure the office has expanded access to data and permit it to estimate the costs of any election platform proposal at the request of political parties.

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