The influence of the Mother country, as might be expected, is clearly discernible in the fiscal system of Canada. Estimates are prepared by the Ministers of the departments and presented to the Minister of Finance. Changes are made, if considered necessary, by a conference with the Minister of the department concerned. After the budget has met the approval of the Cabinet, the Minister of Finance presents it to the House of Commons, where items may be reduced, but not increased. Since the Cabinet belongs to the dominant party in the House, the bill usually goes through with comparatively little difficulty. It is quite evident that the system closely resembles the English practice of centralization and Cabinet responsibility.
Of the entire appropriations in the Canadian budget, about three eighths are permanent. Some of the more important appropriations in this class are for debt charges, collection of revenue, court maintenance, and salaries. If it becomes necessary to maintain existing institutions, and the House has failed to pass the budget, the Governor-General is empowered to issue special warrants for expenditures to meet the needs.
The subject of revenues arises after a decision has been reached on the appropriation part of the budget. The House goes into a committee on ways and means for this purpose, and the finance Minister presents the plan for raising revenues. The most important sources of revenue are customs duties, excise taxes, the sale of public lands, and the post office. Tariff Acts are frequently passed outside of budgetary consideration, while Acts authorizing the borrowing of funds usually have nothing to do with the budget. The expenditures are controlled by the auditor-general, who makes an annual report to Parliament. A careful study of the report aids in securing more successful fiscal legislation for the ensuing year.