The 2004-05 Estimates set out details of the operating and capital spending requirements of ministries for the year commencing April 1, 2004 and constitute the Government's formal request to the Legislature for approval of the expenditures involved. Once approved by the Legislature in the Supply Act, the Estimates become the legal spending authority for each ministry.

The services or programs which ministries are responsible for delivering are each identified by a unique vote number within the Estimates. Votes in turn are sub-divided into items in order to distinguish between their different functions. This vote/item structure permits the Legislature to be more specific in appropriating funds to particular services. Within each item, expenditures are shown by standard account, i.e. salaries and wages, employee benefits, transportation and communication, services, transfer payments etc. (see explanatory notes on page vi).

For comparative purposes, Estimates and Actual amounts for prior years are provided on ministry summary and program summary pages. These amounts are restated to provided comparability where functional reorganizations and transfers, Supplementary Estimates or accounting changes have occurred.

A reconciliation statement is shown on each Ministry's program summary page to relate previously published Estimates and Public Accounts actuals to any restated amounts.

Where it is necessary to seek the Legislature's approval for additional expenditures after the tabling of the Main Estimates, Supplementary Estimates may be tabled.

Commencing in 2004-05, Estimates for the Office of the Chief Election Officer, Ombudsman Ontario and the Office of the Provincial Auditor are presented on the accrual basis of accounting, where costs are recorded as goods and services are received rather than when payments are made. Previously published 2003-04 Estimates for these offices have been restated in accrual basis. Information for 2002-03 Public Accounts actuals is presented on the modified cash basis.

Earlier years were presented on a modified cash basis and therefore, direct comparison between 2004-05 and earlier years may not be meaningful.