Budget watchdog to crunch numbers on political campaign promises for 1st time

For the first time, Canada’s budget watchdog has a mandate to cost out election campaign promises, but the uptake from political parties isn’t clear.

Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) Yves Giroux said he has hired a new team of economists and accountants with expertise in various fields, including taxes, defence procurement and student financial assistance.

Giroux said the costing analysis will give political parties more certainty and enhanced credibility.

“But the main advantage will be for Canadians. Canadians will have enhanced reassurance that there is a non-partisan and professional organization that provides cost estimates for political parties’ engagements,” he said during a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday.

PBO Yves Giroux says costing analysis of election promises will help Canadian voters. (twitter.com)

Requests for cost analysis will come from the parties, and the costing is not mandatory. 

The Green Party says it will request the PBO service. The NDP says it looks forward to working with the PBO, but did not say exactly what it will request.

“As this is the first time that the PBO will be involved in costing partisan initiatives, it would be premature to draw conclusions about exactly how the process will unfold,” reads a statement from the NDP.

CBC News is still awaiting responses to queries put to the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Giroux will begin taking requests 120 days before the election, on June 23. Once the announcement is made during the campaign, the costing will be posted on the PBO website.

“For the first time in Canada, a professional, non-partisan organization will be able to cost electoral commitments so Canadian voters have access to the unbiased, non-partisan information they deserve before they cast their ballot,” he said.

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