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The PBO at a Glance

Parliament’s financial and economic analyst.

The PBO’s mandate is to provide independent analysis to Parliament on the budget, the estimates and other documents, as well as matters of particular significance relating to the nation’s finances or economy listed in the PBO’s annual work plan; and at the request of a committee or a parliamentarian, to estimate the financial cost of any proposal that relates to matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request analyses of the nation’s finances or economy or the estimates.

In the months before a general election, the PBO has an additional mandate of responding to requests from political parties or independent members of the House of Commons to estimate the financial cost of any election campaign proposal that the party or member is considering making.

By providing independent and non-partisan financial and economic analysis, we support Parliament with the goal of raising the quality of parliamentary debate on questions of public money and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.

Many countries have established similar offices to provide economic and fiscal analysis to the legislature. The International Monetary Fund refers to such organizations as “fiscal councils”. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – under which a network of PBOs has been established – refers to them as “parliamentary budget officials” and “independent fiscal institutions”. In Canada, there is one other office with a mandate similar to that of the PBO: Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office.