The 1995-96 Federal Cultural Budget:

A Case Study in Canadian Government Budgetary Information

Harry Hillman Chartrand ©
Government Information in Canada 2 (2) & (3), Winter 1996.


In this time of government retrenchment and transition to a global knowledge-based economy, Canada confronts challenges and changes of a magnitude not seen since the "Dirty '30s". In this transition, the accountability and transparency of government actions is critical to planning by all communities of interest. The traditional instrument holding the senior governments of Canada accountable and transparent is the cycle of public accounts beginning with the annual Budget and Estimates and ending with the Public Accounts reporting actual spending two years later.

The Budget and Estimates are described. The incompatibilities of their various parts are noted. The Main Estimates are then used to calculate the 1995-96 federal cultural budget relative to 1994-95. Definitional difficulties are assessed and, a call is made for all government spending to be made accountable and transparent to public scrutiny -- in one place, at one time and at a reasonable cost.


In this time of government retrenchment and transition to a global knowledge-based economy, Canada confronts challenges and changes of a magnitude not seen since the "Dirty '30s".  All parts of the community and all regions of the country need to muster their energy and creativity to pass through these turbulent times and dock in some more prosperous and contented tomorrow.  The cultural, no less than other sectors of society, has a role to play in this great voyage of our day.

In confronting change, accountability and transparency of government actions is critical to all communities of interest.  The traditional instrument holding government, at the federal and provincial level, accountable is the cycle of public accounts (or CPA).  The cycle begins with submission of an annual Budget to the legislature as well as a set of spending Estimates by agency, department and program.  Together, the Budget and the Estimates form a government's financial plan for the coming year. The cycle ends with publication of the Public Accounts reporting actual spending about two years later.

In theory, CPA permits one to assess if a government is "putting its money where its mouth is!"  Words and numbers are cheap, especially in the heat of political debate and media glare.  All sorts of promises and threats may be made -- but does government keep its word? CPA holds government accountable by making its actions transparent to the legislature, the general public and all communities of interest including the cultural and financial communities.

In this article I will explore the 1995 Budget and Estimates of the Government of Canada to unearth the 1995-96 federal cultural budget.  I will use a broad UNESCO-derived definition of culture adapted to the Canadian context.  This, in turn, defines the "cultural policy sphere" in Canada, a sphere in which many federal departments and agencies are engaged.  This is, of course, true of other policy spheres like science and technology.  In future, I hope to explore the 1995-96 Public Accounts to assess the variance between actual and planned spending. Application of policy analysis of the forces at play may then be used to explain variations.


CPA Components

The 1995-96 CPA begins with seven separate documents in two distinct sets: the Budget and the Estimates.  The Budget presents the government's financial strategy and consists of four documents produced by the Department of Finance:

1. The Budget Speech presented by the Minister of Finance in the House of Commons;

2. Budget 1995, expanding upon the Minister's speech;

3. The Budget in Brief, spotlighting selected budgetary actions; and,

4. The Budget Plan, supplementing and detailing information presented in (1), (2) and (3), as well as presenting ways and means motions to be tabled in the House of Commons.

The Estimates represent tactics which support the government's strategy. Produced by Treasury Board, the Estimates report to the House of Commons by Vote, Activity and Program for most, but not all, federal departments and agencies.  Furthermore, the Estimates define the logistics behind the government's tactics using dollars, person years, and (less frequently) federal standard objects of expenditure.

The 1995-96 Estimates consist of three documents, one of which (Part III) comes in multiple volumes:

Part I - Government Expenditure Plan describes relationships between the Budget Plan and the Estimates;

Part II - Main Estimates describes resources for individual departments and agencies and requiring spending authority from the House though a Vote; and,

Part III - Expenditure Plan reports, in 78 separate volumes, for most federal departments and agencies.  Agencies not reported to the House through Part III generally issue an annual report and a financial statement, e.g. the Canada Council. Such annual reports are not considered in this article.


The Budget and the Estimates are complex, self-contained documents drafted by two related but distinct departments of the federal government.  Each has its own objectives, perspectives and priorities.

Often similar information appears contradictory and/or at variance when reported in different documents and even different volumes of the same document.  Thus, with respect to the Estimates, there are variation for which there are apparent and sometimes substantive variations.

First, with respect to Part I - Expenditure Plan and Part II - Main Estimates:

Part I reports total planned spending while Part II reports spending authority by parliamentary vote, i.e. self-generated income is not reported in Part II's bottom-line request of Parliament;

Part I reports spending external to government, i.e. it does not include interdepartmental and other transfer costs as reported in Part II;

Part I reports reserves not included in Part II because they will meet requirements as they arise in the course of the year and will only then be formulated as Supplementary Estimates requiring a parliamentary vote;

Planned reductions reported in Part I are not reported in Part II because they cannot be acted on until new legislation is passed by Parliament; and,

Some spending authority reported in Part II is expected to lapse in Part I for reasons ranging from contractual and weather-induced delays to late delivery of goods and services.

Thus according to 1995-96 Part I federal savings and lapsed spending, not reported in Part II, will increase slightly more than $2.6 billion relative to 1994-95.  If, however, planned reserves are included then this figure falls to less than $0.7 billion.  Furthermore, such savings and lapsed spending is not attributed to individual departments and agencies in 1995-96 Part II.

Second, since 1986 Part II reports only main estimates for both the current and forthcoming year.  But in any given year a government introduces Supplementary Estimates increasing or decreasing proposed spending.  These changes are no longer reflected in Part II. Similarly, government may not spend all monies voted by Parliament.  These differences too are not reported, year over year, in Part II.

Prior to 1986, these adjustments were reported under "forecast estimate" for the year finishing.  While not an actual figure, the forecast allowed some sense of this year's estimate relative to last year's likely spending . In fact, previously Part II provided five years of data including three years of actual spending, one year of forecast and next year's estimate . This change may, or may not, reflect the ascendancy of commercial chartered accountancy (reporting two years of data and adjusting definition of expenditure items required by changing circumstances) and traditional practice in both registered industrial accountancy (up to ten years of data with constant definition) as well as public sector accountancy (at least five years) . Nonetheless, credible statistical trend analysis can only be conducted with at least five years of data.

Third, Part III (introduced in 1986) reports for each of 78 individual departments and agencies in separate volumes.  In many cases Part III displays five years of data including estimated spending for the forthcoming year, forecast spending for last year and actual spending for the previous three years.  But these are reported only department-by-department, i.e. no single figure for the federal government as a whole is available in Part III.

Fourth, federal programs with which communities of interest are most familiar are usually not reported in the Budget and may not be reported in the Estimates.  Thus, the Estimates report "Votes" of the House of Commons. For example, grants and contributions under "Cultural Initiatives" (a program very familiar to the cultural community) are part of "Vote 10 - Grants and contributions: Canadian Identity Program, Canadian Heritage".  This means distribution within the Canadian Identity Program is, to a great extent, a ministerial or bureaucratic prerogative and priority.  Thus latitude is provided to officials permitting "back-pocket" budgeting whereby ministers or bureaucrats may, if they wish, play one group against another without published information by which they can be held accountable.

Fifth, there are in excess of 25 consolidated specified purpose federal accounts reported as a single entry in Part II in the "General Summary" to the Main Estimates.  In 1994-95, these accounts amounted to some $19.9 billion or 12.4% of all federal spending of $161.1 billion; in 1995-96, $14.8 billion, or 9% of all federal spending of $164.8 billion.  In fact, estimated reductions to these specified purpose accounts represented the largest single decrease (25.6% of the reduction between 1994-95 and 1995-96) in federal spending.  But these accounts are not described or even named in Part II.  An accounting of these funds (reduced as planned or not) will be available only in the 1995 Public Accounts to be published in two years.

Wiggle Room

It is important to appreciate the "wiggle room" provided by these limitations within the federal Budget and Estimates.  The government can, in effect, quote different numbers to suit different purposes. Consider, for example, global federal spending. According to Part II - Main Estimates, total federal spending for all departments, agencies and specified purpose accounts will increase 2.3% from $161.1 billion in 1994-95 to $164.8 billion in 1995-96.  Excluding specified purpose accounts, spending by all federal departments and agencies will increase by 6.2%.  But if one then excludes the Public Debt Program of the Department of Finance, then spending by all federal departments and agencies will increase by only 1.7%.

And if one uses Part I and considers only federal transactions with outside parties (including public debt payments) and includes planned savings (requiring parliamentary approval) and anticipated lapsed spending (allowing for reserves), then total federal spending will increase by only 0.4% over 1994-95.

In fact of 25 departments and agencies reported in the "General Summary" of Part II, eleven will increase and fourteen decrease.  Thus the Department of Finance will experience a 19.1% increase while the Public Debt Program will increase only 17.3%.  Accordingly, excluding the Public Debt Program, the Department of Finance budget will increase 28%.

In the Budget Plan, however, the Minister does not provide data directly comparable with the Main Estimates.  Rather he claims departmental spending will decrease 19% over the next three years.  Because such cuts include "out years" they are subject to more uncertainty than cuts proposed this year.  Accordingly, one can say federal spending will go up 2.3%, 6.2%, 1.7% or 0.4%, or it will decline 19% over the next 3 years.  Which statement is "true"?  Does the current format for the Budget and Estimates provide accountability and transparency of the Government to public scrutiny?

Federal Cultural Budget

Beyond general technical limitations, another question arises about the Budget and Estimates.  What should be included to encompass any given federal public policy sphere such as science, industry or culture?  How many and which departments and agencies share responsibility?

Cultural Policy Definition

For purposes of this article, the federal cultural budget is examined.  But issues that will arise in culture will probably also surface in examination of other public policy spheres.  In this way, this article is a case study of the broader question of definition of relevant spheres of public policy and budgeting.

Using a broad UNESCO-like definition adapted to the Canadian context, culture is inclusive of the arts, the so-called cultural industries, heritage and heritage sites, multiculturalism and heritage languages, native culture, official languages, parks, recreation and sports.

With creation of the Department of Canadian Heritage, there now exists a bureaucratic structure that, on the surface, corresponds to this broad UNESCO-like definition.  But before reviewing its Estimates, what other departments or agencies share in the federal cultural budget?

Culturally Active Departments

The Main Estimates reveal that at least eleven other federal departments and agencies are "culturally active", i.e. some or all of their programs fall under the broad UNESCO-like definition. These are:

Citizenship and Immigration;

Foreign Affairs and International Trade;

Governor General;

Human Resources Development;

Indian Affairs and Northern Development;


Privy Council;

Public Works and Government Services; and,

three economic diversification agencies or equivalents.

And with so many departments and agencies, one faces a further definitional problem -- what constitutes administration or management?  If by management we mean activities not delivering goods or services to clients outside a department and agency then the Main Estimates use many different names, e.g. Administration, Corporate Services, Operational Support, etc. Standard Objects of Expenditure do not clarify the question; nor does netting out grants and contributions from a department's total budget.  Thus readers are advised that in measuring the federal cultural budget there exists no standard definition of administration or management.

Citizenship and Immigration

No matter what economic or political rationale, the Department is cultural in nature in that it acts as the intake valve for official multiculturalism.  From language training to resettlement of refugees, the activities of Citizenship and Immigration have profound cultural implications.  The Main Estimates show that the budget for the Department and its agency (the Immigration and Refugee Board) budget will increase 1%.  Excluding the Board, the departmental budget will increase 2% in 1995-96 while the Corporate Services budget will increase 134%.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

The Department, in addition to its own activities, is responsible for five agencies: the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA); the Export Development Corporation; International Development Research Centre (IDRC); International Joint Commission; and, the NAFTA Secretariat.  An unestimated share of CIDA's budget of nearly $2 billion is spent on cultural activities abroad.

The budget for the Department, excluding agencies, will decline 7.4% in 1995-96 while its Communications and Culture budget will decline 47.1%.  Communications and Culture-related transfers will decline 34%.  Buried in these figures is the budget for the Higher Education and International Culture Bureau which projects Canada's cultural image abroad.  At the same time the Operational Support, Human Resources and Administration budget of the department will increase 11.9%.

Governor General

While the Governor General plays a mainly constitutional role many activities are cultural in nature.  In the Main Estimates such cultural activities fall under "Honours", the budget for which will decline by 5.1% between 1994-95 and 1995-96.  The overall Governor General's budget will decline by 2.6%.  All other activities will experience a decline of 1.9%.  No identifiable item is reported concerning the administration or management budget of the Governor General.

Human Resources Development

In the Main Estimates there is an unidentifiable budget for support of cultural studies and as well as an identifiable budget for the recently created Canadian Artist and Producer Professional Relations Tribunal.  While the overall Departmental budget will increase 2.2% between 1994-95 and 1995-96, Corporate Services will increase 18.6%.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

In the case of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, one can argue that the whole of the department's Indian and Inuit Affairs activities are cultural.  Native peoples have distinct cultures that set them apart from mainstream Canadian society (including official multiculturalism) and from one another.  All programs designed to aid and assist First Nations people are thus, at root, cultural in nature.  The Main Estimates show that the budget of Indian Affairs Northern Development will increase 6.5% in 1995-96.  The Indian and Inuit Affairs part of the Department will experience an 8.8% budgetary increase.  The Administration Program budget will, however, decline 6.2%.


In addition to its own activities, the Department is responsible for nine agencies of which four have at least some cultural policy implications.  These are:

The Copyright Board supervises enforcement of artists' royalties and rights and its budget will decline 2.3% between 1994-95 and 1995-96;

The Federal Business Development Bank invests in the so-called cultural industries and its budget will decline 2.7%:

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council provides grants and publishing support to arts and humanities research in the universities and its budget will decline 4.3%; and,

Statistics Canada operates a national cultural statistics program and its budget will increase 2.0% between 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Internally, the Department conducts at least four activities with cultural consequences.  These include:

The Industrial and Aboriginal Program supports native businesses and its budget will decline 28.6% between 1994-95 and 1995-96;

Communications Research supports research and developments in broadcasting and its budget will decline 5.8%;

Intellectual Property supports investigation and enforcement of artists' rights and its budget will decline 91.8%; and,

The Canadian Intellectual Property Revolving Fund pays out artists' royalties and its budget will remain unchanged.

Through these internal programs the Department provides culturally-related grants and contributions, which will decline 31.9%.  The Department's overall budget will decline by 4.5% while the Corporate and Advisory Services' budget, the closest to a management line item, will decline 4.3%.

Privy Council

The Privy Council is the department primarily responsible for the operation and support of central decision-making.  It is also responsible for eight agencies, one of which is culturally-related, the Commissioner of Official Languages, whose budget will decline 6% between 1994-95 and 1995-96.  The overall departmental budget will increase 6.6%.  There is no identifiable item for management within the Main Estimates.

Public Works and Government Services

In addition to its own operations, the Department is responsible for three agencies of which two have significant cultural consequences:

Canada Mortgage and Housing, which supports development of the visual ecology of the country, from support of house construction to parks and playgrounds. Its budget will decline 10.2% between 1994-95 and 1995-96; and,

Canada Post Corporation, which through support to stamps and souvenirs engage some of the best in Canadian art and design and whose budgetary support from the Department will not decline.

In addition, the Department is host to the Old Port of Montreal Corporation, which is a major national cultural facility and whose budget will not decline.  By contrast, Harbour Front in Toronto, another nationally significant cultural facility, had its grant eliminated. But no identifiable line item exists in the Main Estimates.

Internally, the Architecture, Engineering and Reality Service supervises the visual ecology of all federal construction and its budget will decline 14.6%.  While there is no identifiably management item in the Main Estimates, the overall departmental budget will be reduced 5.2%.

Three Economic Diversification Agencies

There are three economic diversification agencies of the federal government.  Two are stand-alone agencies: the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency whose budget will increase 0.7%; and, Western Economic Diversification whose budget will increase 5.7%.  The Quebec Regional Development Office is housed within the Department of Finance and its budget will increase 7.8% between 1994-95 and 1995-96.  All three support culturally related projects as part of their mandates. No management information is available in the Main Estimates.


Canadian Heritage

The Department of Canadian Heritage was formed just before the last federal election.  Essentially, it was created by merging the former Departments of Communications and Secretary of State, and the Parks Canada Program of the Department of Environment.  In the process, however, certain parts of the former Department of Communications including spectrum management were hived off to a newly constituted Department of Industry.

In effect, and excepting activities of secondarily culturally active departments and agencies, Canadian Heritage is responsible for the broad UNESCO-based definition of cultural policy inclusive of the arts, the so-called cultural industries, heritage and heritage sites, multiculturalism and heritage languages, native culture, official languages, parks, recreation and sports.

In addition to its own activities, Canadian Heritage is responsible for fourteen cultural and two non-cultural agencies of the federal government.  Non-cultural agencies include the Public Service Commission and the Women's Bureau (so-called by the author and representing the amalgamation of the former Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Office of Co-ordinator - The Status of Women which are reported separately in the Main Estimates).

It can be argued that the Public Service Commission would more appropriately be under the Minister of Human Resources Development or Public Works and Government Services.  Furthermore, the Women's Bureau could be considered a cultural agency in the same way that multiculturalism, native culture and official languages are cultural.  For purposes of this article, however, it is assumed that economic and legal rather than cultural objectives are the primary purposes of the Women's Bureau.

In the Main Estimates, the Canadian Heritage departmental budget will decrease by 14.8%.  The Department operates three programs:

Canadian Identity Program;

Parks Canada; and,

Corporate Management Services.

Canadian Identity Program

The program consists of three activities:

Participation, involving two sub-activities:

Citizens' Participation and Multiculturalism, made up of five directorates: Canadian Identity; Native Culture; Human Rights; Multiculturalism Secretariat and Race Relations and Cross-Cultural Understanding; and, Community Support and Participation and Heritage Cultures and Languages; and,

Amateur Sports (Sports Canada), made up of five directorates: Core Support Management; High Performance; Major Games; Policy, Planning and Evaluation; and Regional Operations;

Official Languages involving two sub-activities including:

Official Languages in Education; and,

Promotion of Official Languages;

Cultural Development and Heritage, involving four sub-activities including:

Arts Policies and Programs;

Heritage Policies and Programs;

Broadcasting; and,

Cultural Industries.

In the Main Estimates information is available only at the activity and sub-activity level.  Overall, the Canadian Identity Program budget will be reduced 21.1% while the budget for Participation will decline 21%; Official Languages will decline 8.1%; and, Cultural Development and Heritage 25.1%.

Parks Canada

The program consists of three activities:

Operations, involving four sub-activities:

Resource Protection and Management;

Heritage Preservation and Public Education;

Maintenance of Facilities;


Development, involving two sub-activities:

Policy Research and Planning;

Acquisition, Conservation and Development of Heritage Places; and,

Program Management and Technical Services involving two sub-activities including:

Program Management; and,

Technical Services.

In the Main Estimates data is available only at the activity level. Overall, the Parks Canada budget will decline 6.2% while Operations will decline 1.9%; Development by 20.5%; and, Program Management and Technical Services 18.2%.

Corporate Management Services

The program consist of two activities:

Coordination, involving eight sub-activities:

Human Resources;

Financial Management;


Corporate Review;

Administrative Services;

Information Management;

Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs; and,

Legal Services; and,

Regional Support involving six sub-activities:




Prairies and N.W.T.;

Alberta; and,

Pacific and Yukon.

In the Main Estimates information is available only at the activity level.  The overall budget for Corporate Management Services will increase 5.2% while the budget for Coordination will decline -1%; and, Regional Support increase 16.9%.

Cultural Agencies

The overall budget for all fourteen cultural agencies reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage will decrease 2% between 1994-95 and 1995-96.  The distribution of decreases among the agencies is, however, uneven.  Agencies include:

Canada Council

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Canadian Film Development Corporation

Canadian Museum of Civilization

Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission

National Archives

National Arts Centre

National Battlefields Commission

National Capital Commission

National Film Board

National Gallery

National Library

National Museum of Science & Technology

Canada Council

According to the Main Estimates, the total Canada Council grant from the government will decline 2.6%  Canceled grants and refunds will increase, however, 95.1% and Administration will increase 3%.  Support to the arts will decline 2.4%.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

The total C.B.C. grant from the federal government will decline 2.4%.  Support for specialty services will increase 58.1% and miscellaneous revenues by 39%.  Advertising revenues will decline 2% and support for both television and radio services by 2.8%.  Corporate Management Services will decline 4.2% and Corporate Engineering Services will decline by 6.8%.

Canadian Film Development Corporation

According to the Main Estimates, the total C.F.D.C. grant from the federal government will decline 10.3% while expected revenues from sales and other commercial sources will increase 57.6%.  Administration will decline 2.6% and support for Investments, Loans, Promotion and Distribution will decline by 2.7% while the Canadian Broadcast Development Fund will decline 8.0%.

Canadian Museum of Civilization

The total federal budgetary requirements will increase 21.2% while accommodation will increase 133.1% reflecting transfer of responsibility from the Department of Public Works and Government Services.  This, in turn, reflects final deconstruction of the former Canadian Museums Corporation. Research activities will increase 14.9%; support to the Canadian War Museum by 10.4%; and, general revenues 4.8%.  The Collections budget will decline 0.4%; Museum Services 8.1%; Exhibitions and Programs by 17.9%; and, Public Affairs by 29.3%.

Canadian Museum of Nature

According to the Main Estimates, total federal budgetary requirements will increase 37.8% while accommodation will increase 5,203.5%, reflecting transfer of responsibility from the Department of Public Works and Government Services.  This, as with the Canadian Museum of Civilization, reflects final deconstruction of the former Canadian Museums Corporation.  General revenues will increase by 33.3%; Research activities by 10.4%; and Collections by 4.8%. Public Programs will decline by 3.5%, and Corporate Services by 23.2%.

Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission

Responsible for regulation of the public airwaves and telecommunications, total C.R.T.C. budgetary requirements will decrease 1.1% while support for Broadcasting will decline 3.3%; Executive Management by 4.7%; and Corporate Services by 9.2%.

National Archives

According to the Main Estimates, total federal budgetary requirements will decrease by 1.9% while Administration will increase 13.9%. Services, Awareness and Assistance will decline 2.1%; Holdings Development & Management by 9.3%; and, Management of Government Information by 14.8%.

National Arts Centre

Total budgetary requirements will decrease 10.9% while Building Operations will decline 2.5%; Commercial Services by 5.7%; Administrative Services by 8.2%; support for the Performing Arts by 10.2%; and, Program Support by 14.9%.

National Battlefields Commission

According to the Main Estimates, total federal budgetary requirements will decrease 2%. No additional information is available in the Main Estimates.

National Capital Commission

Total federal budgetary requirements will decrease by 7.7% while general revenues will increase 18.1% and Real Asset Management & Development by 7.4%. Corporate Services will decline 12.8%; Promotion and Animation by 19.5%; and, Planning by 31.2%.

National Film Board

According to the Main Estimates, total federal budgetary requirements will decrease 7.1%, while Distribution will increase by 6.1% and Training by 5.4%. Technical Research will decline by 2%; Administration by 6.5%; and, Programming by 9.3%.

National Gallery

Total federal budgetary requirements will increase 20.7%, while accommodation costs will increase 91.3%, reflecting transfer of responsibility from the Department of Public Works and Government Services.  This, as noted above, reflects final deconstruction of the former Canadian Museums Corporation. General revenues will increase 39.2%; Administer 5.7%; Collect 1.2%; and Educate and Communicate 0.6%.  Use of terms like "Administer" and "Collect" highlight the idiosyncratic nature of reporting by different agencies.

National Library

According to the Main Estimates, total federal budgetary requirements will decrease 7.8%. No additional information is available in the Main Estimates.

National Museum of Science and Technology

Total federal budgetary requirements will increase 33.6% reflecting, partially, transfer of responsibility from the Department of Public Works and Government Services. Support for the National Museum of Science and Technology will increase 42.6% and support for the National Aviation Museum by 39.6%. General revenues will increase 7.2% while Common Services will decline 1.7%.


In this article the component parts of the Budget and the Estimates were described as part of the larger cycle of public accounts.  The Main Estimates were then used to calculate the 1995-96 federal cultural budget relative to its 1994-95 level.  To conclude, consideration is paid to issues of comparability and definition.



While the Main Estimates were used to calculate the federal cultural budget, more detailed data is available in Part III - Canadian Heritage Expenditure Plan as well as Part III's or annual reports for other departments and agencies.  Part III provides estimates for both 1995-96 and 1994-95 as well as forecast data for 1994-95 and actual data for the previous one, two and sometimes three years.

There are, however, three problems associated with Part III. First, cost is a problem.  Together, Parts I, II and III (78 separate reports) cost $960.85 plus GST.  Separate annual reports are also be required for each cultural agency not reporting through Part III. With Budget documents, the cost (not including time and effort in adding up data for all relevant departments and agencies) is well over $1,000.00.  This is the minimum price of accountability of federal spending to public scrutiny.  This cost could be significantly reduced if the pre-1986 format for the Main Estimates was reinstated reporting five years of data .

The federal government has, however, announced that within a few years, the Budget and Estimates will be available in electronic as well as paper format.  This does not mean electronic information will be free.  Federal policies are, at present, ambiguous and subject to differing departmental policies.  Treasury Board, for example, tends to make electronic products available to libraries at no cost, while the Department of Finance applies a cost-recovery policy in some cases, e.g. detailed budget papers. Parts I and II of the 1996-97 Estimates will be provided by Treasury Board in electronic format. 

Second, Part III for Canadian Heritage presents compatibility problems.  Thus while the Participation and Official Language Support components of the Canadian Identity Program are reported for five years, sometimes down to the level of grants and contributions, the Cultural and Heritage Development component is not. Similarly, Parks Canada and Corporate Management are reported for only this year's estimates, last year's forecast and one previous year's actual spending.  This inhibits trend line analysis which requires at least five years of data. Furthermore, while total budgetary requirements of cultural agencies are reported in Part III for five years, data at the activity level is available only in Part II - The Main Estimates for last year's and this year's estimates.

Third, even if one used all 78 volumes of Part III, data will not necessarily agree with the Public Accounts for the corresponding year.  Formats of the Estimates and Public Accounts are not necessarily compatible.  The degree of difference will be the subject of a subsequent article.

Definition of Management

It is clear from calculating the federal cultural budget that definition of management or administration varies between departments and agencies.  Without a compatible definition it is not possible to determine resources directed at providing the Canadian people with goods and services.

Public Policy Sphere Definition

For accountability and transparency of government actions to be accessible to any Canadian or community of interest, government spending in any public policy sphere such as culture should be reported in one place, at one time and at a reasonable cost.  This would require, of course, formal recognition of "legitimate" communities of interest not rooted just in geography or political allegiance but also in "conceptual space" where, nonetheless, they exist as "real" public policy spheres of influence.

That this is possible is evident in France with respect to international cultural relations.  Since 1982, the Government of France has required all departments and agencies to make an annual report concerning international cultural relations (État récapitulatif des crédits concurrent à l'action culturelle de la France à l'étranger, No. 82-126 du décembre 1982).  The results are compiled and published. A similar approach is possible in federal cultural as well as all other public policy spheres.

Formalization of a Cycle of Public Accounts

Similarly, spending consequences of all government actions should be accountable and transparent to public scrutiny by any Canadian or community of interest.  But for this accounting to happen, it should be reported in one place, at one time and at a reasonable cost.  Reinstatement of the pre-1986 format for Part II - The Main Estimates would be a useful first step.  It would also provide a timeline supporting trend analysis and therefore measurement of the momentum of government towards its long term objective, i.e. to fulfill its democratic mandate.  This would require, of course, that actual spending, not just will-o'-the-wisp promises or threats, be reported.

A significant second step would be the re-design of all three parts of the public accounts cycle -- Budget, Estimates and Public Accounts -- using the same definitions and parameters.  Distortion between the Budget and the Estimates has been demonstrated.  Distortion between these and the Public Accounts will be the subject of a future article -- in more than two year's time -- after a final accounting for the 1995-96 federal cultural budget.