The FAO will receive and consider research requests from MPPs and committees confidentially. The FAO is empowered to refuse research requests from MPPs and committees. Since the number of requests is likely to outstrip the FAO’s financial and human resources, the FAO expects the need to exercise discretion to refuse requests.
The FAO will use the following principles, which are based on Canadian and international best practices, to guide his decision to accept or refuse a research request. These principles have been circulated to the members of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs for their comment and the FAO looks forward to drawing on their input to further refine the principles in the future.
The FAO will refuse requests that fall outside his mandate to conduct economic and financial research. The FAO respects the role played by other officers of the Assembly, notably the Auditor General, so he will also refuse requests that would be better fulfilled by another institution.
The FAO will refuse requests where it is either not possible to agree on terms of reference with the requesting committee or MPP or where, according to his professional judgement, the request cannot be fulfilled with any degree of certainty
The FAO will refuse requests for which the information required to conduct the research is not likely accessible because the necessary information does not exist and cannot be produced from existing sources.
The FAO will refuse requests that, according to his professional judgement, concern aspects of the government’s estimates, bills or proposals that cannot be reasonably expected to have a substantial impact on the province’s finances – e.g. its revenue, expenditures or debt – and/or the provincial economy – e.g. its gross domestic product or employment rate.
However, the FAO is willing to consider requests that involve matters which may not have a substantial economic or financial impact at the provincial level, but have a substantial impact in a particular region of the province. The FAO is also willing to consider requests that involve matters that have substantial impacts on particular groups, such as students or seniors.
The FAO will prioritize requests that, according to his professional judgement, are most relevant to his role of assisting the Assembly in performing its constitutional duties. As a result, the FAO will prioritize requests relating to government bills and policy proposals made by ministers over private member’s bills and proposals made by others. Increased scrutiny of the government’s fiscal plans, bills and proposed policies more generally should encourage the government to make prudent economic and financial projections and inform policy choices that are consistent with those projections.
The FAO will refuse any requests that he receives when the Assembly is dissolved. Once the Assembly is dissolved, legally speaking, there are no longer any MPPs or committees from which he can accept requests. The FAO will also refuse requests when the Assembly is prorogued.
The FAO will refuse requests he receives for research that is to remain confidential or be released at the sole discretion of the requesting committee or MPP. The FAO was created to help inform the Assembly in order to improve its capacity to perform its constitutional duties. The best way he can do so is by reporting publicly to the Assembly as a whole.
The FAO will allow a committee or MPP to withdraw a request. However, if the FAO judges it appropriate, he may choose to continue to pursue the research they requested as though it were analysis that he undertook on his own initiative.