Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, has received about 80 per cent of the information he's requested on how much money each government department will save because of the expenditure cuts announced in Budget 2012.

Those cuts, estimates Page, amount to a five-year freeze in government expenditures.

But other information he considers vital, such as the number of job cuts and how much service in each department will be affected, is just not coming across from most large government departments.

The PBO's latest chart, published Thursday, reveals that some government agencies that tend to be at arm's length from government, such as the Auditor General, Elections Canada, the CRTC, the Canadian Space Agency and several others, have delivered all the information requested. Surprisingly, perhaps, the National Arts Centre has not, holding back on job cuts and effects on services.

But the chart also suggests that many departments — colour-coded red for "non-compliant" — have decided Page can have information about savings, but not about the impact of those savings.

Page considers it his job to inform parliamentarians and the public about what a $5.2-billion cut will do to government. It's especially relevant for MPs, he thinks, who are obligated to scrutinize spending plans and vote on budget bills.

The spending watchdog is waiting for a legal opinion from constitutional lawyer Joseph Magnet about how much information he can demand from government.

Some cabinet ministers, such as Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty and Treasury Board President Tony Clement, have said Page is exceeding his office's mandate by requesting such detailed information.

If Page obtains a legal opinion that backs up his authority to demand budgetary information, he plans to take the holdout departments to Federal Court.

Status of information requests by the Parliamentary Budget Office as of November 1, 2012:

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  • The Conservative government has introduced Bill C-45, the second omnibus budget implementation bill. Here's a brief look at what's inside the 450-page document. <em>With files from CBC</em>

  • MP And Public Service Pensions

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  • Unemployment Insurance

    The Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board will be dissolved, and an interim means of establishing premium rates set up to replace its work. The Crown Corporation is currently run by a seven-member board. This move continues employment insurance changes started with the first omnibus budget bill, as cabinet gradually receives more authority to reform EI.

  • Changes To The Indian Act

    The bill makes what could be controversial changes to the Indian Act, amending it to change the rules around what kind of meetings or referenda are required to lease or otherwise grant an interest in designated reserve lands. The aboriginal affairs minister would also be given the authority to call a band meeting or referendum for the purpose of considering an absolute surrender of the band's territory.

  • Environmental Assessment Act Tweaks

    Last spring's changes to the Environmental Assessment Act are tweaked further in this omnibus bill.

  • Hiring Tax Credit

    The bill will extend a popular small business hiring credit.

  • New Bridge To U.S.

    C-45 also facilitates the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River at Windsor, announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last summer. Certain legislation will be changed and other legislation won't apply to this bridge. Three federal bodies will cease to exist with the passage of this legislation.

  • Grain Act Amended

    The bill also amends the Canada Grain Act, simplifying the way it classifies grain terminals, repealing grain appeal tribunals, and ending several other requirements of the current Act, giving the Canadian Grains Commission more power to regulate the grain industry. These changes follow the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over wheat and barley sales in Western Canada, which take effect for this year's harvest.

  • Hazardous Materials Under Health

    All the work of the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission will be transferred to the health minister.

  • Merchant Seamen Board Under Labour

    The Merchant Seamen Compensation Board will see its authority transferred to the Minister of Labour. The three-person board currently hears and decides benefit claims for merchant seamen who are injured or disabled as a result of their work and are not currently covered by provincial workers' compensation benefits.