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Beware of federal budgets becoming less informative

A note on omnibus bills.

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Take note investors, business owners and employees. What’s in the March budget document is becoming a less definitive statement on new spending and taxation measures that could impact you.

As the budget process illustrated last year, the federal government can use subsequent budget omnibus bills to include changes not mentioned in March budgets. For example, the 2012 Federal Budget never specifically mentioned restrictions to Employment Insurance benefits but the June 2012 budget omnibus bill repealed the section of the Employment Insurance Act that allows recipients to turn down a job because it is not their usual occupation or pays less.

Beware, then, of laying plans based on what’s in a March budget document. As two former senior Finance Department officials, Peter Devries and Scott Clark, note, “we may not know what’s actually in [the budget] until Flaherty tables the budget omnibus bills.”  The wait could be more than six months given the June omnibus budget bill is typically followed by a second bill in the fall.