Thank you very much.
Like most other governments, the federal government charges fees for services that provide recipients with benefits beyond those received by the general public. Some examples of these fees include fees for services, such as icebreaking; inspection of cattle for export; fees for products such as marine navigation charts; fees for the use of a facility, for example, a wind tunnel; and fees for rights or privileges, for example, the right to use a publicly owned or managed property.
It should also be noted that the service fees act will not apply to bridge tolls, as the federal organizations responsible for administering these federal bridges do not fall under the scope of the legislation. For all fees that are subject to the act, the amount charged is normally intended to recover all or part of the product or service that's being provided. In setting the fees, the government must consider the private versus public benefit of the associated fees, in other words, the extent to which a product or service provides a benefit to all Canadians, such as food safety, versus the profits that specific businesses derive from the sale of safe foods.
Under the current legislative framework governing fee setting, many organizations have not changed their fees for years, if not decades. As a result, taxpayers currently subsidize relatively high percentages of products and services, many of which primarily benefit users of specialized government services. A modern legislative framework will support a more cost-efficient delivery of its services. It will also help improve transparency and oversight, and ensure that those who set fees are accountable to Canadians.
Key changes under the service fees act include the fact that all fees will be subject to the legislative framework, improving the accountability regime that would ensure fee payers are reimbursed when performance standards are not met, a streamlined approach for setting fees and speeding up the process, the introduction of an automatic escalator clause to ensure that the fees maintain pace with actual costs, and increased transparency to provide Canadians and parliamentarians with annual information on fees. This includes both mandatory departmental reports that would be tabled annually in Parliament, and the requirement by the president of the Treasury Board to make a consolidated report available.
It should also be noted that introducing new legislation will not increase fees beyond the proposed inflationary escalator. Fees are set under ministerial authority after consultation with interested stakeholders. The modernization of the legislative framework opens the door for departments and agencies to look at rebalancing the burden of costs between general taxpayers and those benefiting from those specialized services.
At this point I'd be happy to take any questions.