OTTAWA — The federal government is preparing to give the parliamentary budget watchdog and the national statistics office their independence from political meddling.
The government signalled in its fall economic statement that it plans to turn the parliamentary budget officer into an officer of Parliament, putting it on the same level as the auditor general, privacy commissioner and information commissioner.
Under the Liberal proposal, the budget watchdog would have the powers to order departments to hand over spending information that they have been leery about giving in the past.
The watchdog would have the freedom to review budgets, spending estimates and other areas of government spending. The office could also review election spending promises at the request of political parties.
Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said that the changes would help the office meet the potential it had when it first appeared on the political scene eight years ago.
Page said that potential was hampered by limits on what it could review and what spending information it could access.