Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to this bill, which I have not had a chance to do yet, and again to congratulate my friend from Saskatoon—Grasswood for bringing forward this great piece of legislation.
In the House, we are always looking for ways that we can help education and our schools, which I hope we all believe is important. But sometimes we do not look for the ways we can help through simplification. This is what I particularly like about my friend's bill. He is not trying to add an additional tax credit here, but would in fact leverage the existing system. He is saying something sensible, that it does not make much sense for governments to try to collect substantial tax revenue from other levels of government.
What the bill before us today would do is to provide for an increased GST rebate back to school authorities. Right now it is at 68%. This bill would move it to 100%, given that schools are paying 100% GST. This would be useful for schools in my constituency and those across the country, because it would save their having to give money to the federal government that they would otherwise have to give. The bill would be a simplification, but it would also make a practical difference, no doubt about it. It would give money back to schools they could use to invest in vital things that are important to them, whether school supplies, infrastructure, additional services for students, or simply reducing the fees that parents have to pay, or freeing up resources that could be used, or other kinds of things at the school board level. There is a lot of value in that money going back to schools.
Deeper than that, though, we can ask what is the sense of the existing system in which we have different levels of government charging tax on each other. I will just say as well that we have a government that rather than reducing taxes on other levels of government actually wants to increase the taxes on other levels of government. We have the imposition of a carbon tax, with the federal government trying to require the provinces to impose that tax. In the case of many jurisdictions, that tax would affect other levels of government. It would affect school boards. The purpose of carbon taxation on other levels of government is supposedly to create an incentive for less use of carbon, but I have to say that in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, the school buses are going to keep running regardless of the taxes levied. There is no logical way this would change behaviour. We cannot have children walking to school from acreages or, generally speaking, in a geographically larger community. There is just a disconnect in terms of practicality.
However, we are levying taxes on other levels of government that school boards are then paying to the federal government, at the same time as the federal government is transferring resources to the provinces and the provinces are transferring resources to school boards. Every time we have this back-and-forth transfer of resources, it imposes an administrative cost and burden. So we in the House should always look first for ways to get resources to that local level where the services are actually delivered.
In practice, it is our local communities and our school boards that are most likely to be interfacing with people in terms of the practical services they use on a day-to-day basis. We should be looking for ways of getting resources there. These are levels of government, by the way, that have far fewer taxing powers than the federal government or the provincial governments have. We can collect taxes in all sorts of different ways. Although our local governments are the level of government that people are most likely to interact with, these governments have much less ability to raise or control their own budgets. Yet we have this process by which the federal government, with the current GST rebate system, is taking money from those levels of government.
There are two things. It is about giving more authority, resources and ability to those local levels of government, in this case school boards. The same principle perhaps would apply to municipalities. However, it is also about simplification. It is about stepping back and looking at why we have this back-and-forth of money and looking at whether we can find ways of simplifying the transfer system.
Again, I want to congratulate my friend, the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood. This an excellent bill. It speaks to something we should be trying to do at a broader level, which is provide more support to our local communities, our school boards, and our municipalities, given how important they are, practically, in the lives of people in our constituencies. It is also about trying to do that in a more efficient way.
I am very pleased to support the bill. I am really surprised that we do not see support from government members. I would encourage them to talk to schools and parents within their communities, and be willing to step out from the line that perhaps is being directed. All of us have individual responsibilities to our constituents. We all have a responsibility to vote based upon what we think the people within our communities would like to see and what is in their best interest. That is our primary responsibility, not to some recommendation we might get.
These are private members' bills. Despite the direction we may see some in the government wanting the party to go, I hope government members will take a look at what is in the bill, at the value that it would have to people in their community, and that they be willing to step out beyond that line and say that it is good legislation, that they will support it even if that maybe not what those around them do.
Quite obviously this is a good bill. It is the kind of bill that all of those watching, whether they are parents, students, or people involved in local governments, would say that it makes sense, but that it does not make sense for the federal government to take money from school boards that they could use and go through this administrative process of back-and-forth.
The bill would significantly improve upon the current system. I am proud to support it on behalf of my constituents in Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. I hope we will see other members line up behind it as well.