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Machinery of Government

How the Department supports you in developing policy, regulatory, legislative, and funding proposals


To provide an overview of key Government of Canada machinery relevant to your role as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Government by Cabinet

About Cabinet

How Cabinet works

Ministers’ roles

How does DFO support you at Cabinet?

The Department prepares briefing material on items being presented to each Cabinet and Committee meeting you attend, including departmental considerations and speaking points, when relevant.

Memoranda to Cabinet

A MC is developed when a Minister is seeking a Cabinet decision on a policy proposal. MCs are brought forward by individual ministers, or by several ministers working together.

Ministers typically bring forward MCs when they wish to:

How does DFO support you in developing MCs?

Range of decisions from Cabinet:

Legislative development process


The Cabinet stage

  1. Proposed governement policy
  2. Informal and ad hoc review and consultation
  3. Preparation of Memorandum to Cabinet
  4. Cabinet committee considers the Memorandum to Cabinet and prepares a report
  5. Cabinet ratifies the committee's report
  6. Department of Justice drafters prepare the bill
  7. The bill is reviewed by the minister of the sponsoring department and by the Government House Leader
  8. Notice of intent from Government House Leader to introduce bill in Parliament


The Parliamentary stage

  1. Introduction and first reading
  2. Second reading
  3. Committee stage
  4. Report stage
  5. Third reading

When the bill passes these 5 steps in the House of Commons of Senate, it goes to the other chamber

When the bill passes these 5 steps in the second chamber, it is almost law

How does DFO support you in developing legislation?

The Department prepares briefing materials, prepares the MC for your approval and Cabinet consideration, and coordinates speeches for debates.

Governor in Council and Ministerial Regulations

Governments use regulations, which are laws, in combination with other instruments to achieve public policy objectives. The Treasury Board Committee (Governor in Council, (GiC)), ministers, and administrative agencies are given the authority to make regulations through legislation passed by Parliament. The Department utilizes two types of regulations: GiC and Ministerial.

Policy development

Proposed Regulations Canada Gazette, Part 1

Final Regulations Canada Gazette, Part 2

*Only required for GiC Regulations. For Ministerial regulations, only approval by the Minister is required.

How does DFO support you in developing regulations?

The Department develops regulatory proposals, engages stakeholders on the proposed regulatory approaches, and collaborates with the Department of Justice to draft legal text.

Legislation and regulations are linked:

Parliamentary appearances

How does DFO support you?

The Department coordinates your appearances at committees and develops briefing materials for you and your officials.

Question period/written questions/petitions

How does DFO support you?

The Department provides information for your use in question period and works with your office to provide responses to written questions and petitions.

Parliamentary secretary


The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for 124 appointments to 31 organizations:

Governor in Council Appointments

Exemptions from a competitive process are permitted for positions reserved for departmental representatives; provincial and territorial representatives; and, Indigenous representatives.

Ministerial Discretionary Appointments

How does DFO support you?

The Department designs the Notice of Appointment Opportunity, guides the selection process, and provides highly qualified candidates for your consideration.

The budget cycle

The annual Budget outlines planned government spending, expected revenue, and forecasts economic conditions for the upcoming year.

It is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate concrete actions on platform commitments.

To respond to unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances, funding proposals can be submitted to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance outside of the annual budget process as off-cycle funding requests.

The Government also usually has a Fall Economic Statement.

How does DFO support you in the Budget cycle?

The Department works with your office and Finance Canada to develop proposals for your consideration. You can then choose from these proposals when responding to the Minister of Finance.

  • Minister of Finance submits a letter to Ministers requesting proposals to be considered for inclusion in the next Budget
  • Ministers respond to the letter with proposals
  • Minister of Finance and Prime Minister decide which proposals will be included in the Budget
  • The Budget is tabled in Parliament and a public announcement is made by the Minister of Finance
  • Main Estimates are tabled. These outline the resources required by each department and agency for the upcoming fiscal year
  • The Budget Implementation Act is tabled. This is used to implement certain provisions of the Budget after it is tabled in Parliament

Treasury Board

Treasury Board (TB) is a statutory Cabinet committee that reviews and approves Government of Canada proposals related to spending, personnel, procurement, transfer payments, and IT projects.



  • President of the Treasury Board
  • Minister of Finance
  • 4 additional cabinet ministers



  • Management Board
  • Budget Office
  • Employer

Documents considered

  • Departmental submissions
  • Précis
  • Aide mémoires
  • Presentations
  • Information Notes
  • Follow-up Reports

Range of Decisions

  • Approve
  • Approve with conditions
  • Not approve
  • Defer decision

TB Ministers’ decisions relate to each submission’s proposal, but TB also has the discretion to go beyond the specific decision sought (i.e. by imposing conditions or requesting follow-ups)

Treasury Board submissions

Official Cabinet documents put forward by a sponsoring Minister to seek approvals from the Treasury Board (TB), usually to authorize the implementation of a program, project or procurement.

Process: Treasury Board submissions follow a specific process to ensure a robust proposal. Similar to MCs, your department will work with other parts of the Government to prepare them and submit them to TB for you. Typically Ministers do not present proposals to TB.

How does DFO support you in developing Treasury Board submissions?

The Department works with Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure that proposals are well-substantiated, sustainable, and aligned with the Department’s mandate

Main and supplementary estimates

Main estimates provide a breakdown, by department and agency, of planned government spending for the coming fiscal year. Supplementary estimates present information to Parliament on the Government’s spending requirements that were not sufficiently developed in time for inclusion in the main estimates.

Parliamentary approval

Funding cannot flow until Parliament grants its approval of the Estimates by passing the related Appropriation Bill. Once Parliamentary approval is obtained, the organization can begin to spend money approved for the new initiative.

How does DFO support you in developing estimates?

The Department works with the Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure that the information included in the Estimates aligns with Treasury Board approved authorities

Annex: Central agencies

Privy Council Office (PCO)

Finance Canada (FIN)

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS)

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