The Executive Council exercises the formal executive powers of the Crown. Its formal actions are those of the Governor-in-Council (GIC)and its recorded decisions are Orders-in-Council (OICs).
The Executive Council may do only those things that are permitted by the House of Assembly through legislation and, to a much lesser extent, those things that are permitted by way of prerogative power, such as making appointments.
The Executive Council determines the government's policies and priorities and is responsible for their execution. The Executive Council meets regularly to agree on the broader goals, policies, and programs for the Province of Nova Scotia, and account for their decisions through debate in the House of Assembly.
The Executive Council makes key policy decisions, including proposals for spending, taxing, and borrowing; directing the administration and delivery of government programs; and proposing new legislation or amendments to existing legislation. These decisions, however, are subject to debate and votes by the Legislative Assembly.
Subject to law, the Executive Council is free to organize the activities of the Government in the manner best suited to attain its objectives, bearing in mind that the resulting actions should not run contrary to the general wishes of the electorate.
Executive Council discussions are confidential. Ministers swear an oath of confidentiality and are not permitted to reveal the substance of deliberations in Executive Council meetings. Executive Council decisions are made by consensus and Ministers are bound to support Executive Council decisions.