Yes. We are going to see real change, Madam Speaker, with the new government, I can assure the member of that and I will talk a bit about that real change.
I suspect, if we would have had a dialogue with the Conservative minister of finance at the time, the types of arguments he would have been bringing forward would have been something to the effect of, “What is the actual cost?” and “Where are you going to get the money to replace it?”
We are talking an estimated $200 million a year, in terms of lost revenue. An hon. member has just indicated that it is less than $100 million.
I think we should take a look at the percentage difference, because it is important for us to recognize, and I do believe the member did, that there are current rebates. When we talk about the actual dollar amount, my understanding is that it is closer to $200 million over the years.
If we take a look at those selected boards where there are rebates, and we are talking about the municipalities, as has been pointed out, in I believe 1994 the rebate was raised to 100%, recognizing through our municipalities the important role they play. There were different types of stakeholders at the time that articulated why we needed to move in that direction, and it was 2004. I believe it was a Liberal administration back then that recognized that this was something that had some value to it.
We also give exemptions to universities and public colleges of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 67%. If we take a look at our school authorities today, and this is what the member is trying to enhance, it is estimated at about 68%. Then for hospital authorities, facility operators, and external suppliers it is based on 83%.
What we are really talking about is that gap between 68% and 100%, and this is what the member is advocating for.
I know a question was put forward to the member with respect to the type of consultation or representations that might have been made to the member. I am not too sure in terms of exactly where the provinces themselves might be at.
We also need to take into consideration, when we talk about school boards or school entities, that there are public entities and there are private entities. I am not 100% clear, but I believe that the member across the aisle, by his actions, is implying that it would apply to both private and public. I do not know to what degree there would be an additional cost, but I can assure members that there would be an additional cost factor to it if we have both private and public.
I think the current government has been very clear in terms of what our taxation priorities are. We do recognize the need for reforming our taxation. We have seen some of the most significant changes probably in the last 15 or 20 years in terms of taxation policy with an underlying theme that what we want is for taxation to be fair. We want people to be paying their fair share.
That is why one of our government's first initiatives back in December was Bill C-2 which provided a middle-class tax break which will ultimately benefit all Canadians indirectly and nine million directly. That was a very important priority of this administration. Along with that particular tax change, we saw a tax increase for Canada's most wealthiest, those who have an income in excess of $200,000 a year, again with the idea that Canadians expect a fair taxation policy.
The Government of Canada has not given up. We recognize there are many inequities within our taxation policies. That is one of the reasons we made a commitment to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy in the long term. The government made a commitment for the coming year to undertake a review of the tax system as a whole to ensure all tax measures are fair, efficient, and fiscally responsible.
It is very important to recognize that the federal government has a responsibility to work with the different stakeholders and get a sense from them where they believe the inequities are and how we might be able to assist in trying to cure some of those inequities while at the same time establishing some priorities as to where we might be able to act.
Would it not be wonderful if the Conservatives had left us in a better situation as opposed to a deficit? Would it not be wonderful if they had provided us with a better situation? Would it not be wonderful if we could just wave a wand and see if we could deal with all tax inequities and deliver the types of tax breaks that we on the Liberal side would like to deliver? It might take a bit of time in order for us to do that.
Do not underestimate the commitment of this government and our ability to work with others to deal with issues that come before the House of Commons, like the member opposite who brought forward Bill C-241. We recognize that is an issue which we will have to look at.
I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Finance that in the negotiations and the consultations that will take place going forward, one of the agenda items could very well be the issue of our school divisions both public and private.
I would encourage the member across the way to continue to lobby any way he can. I know through consultations with the Government of Canada what we have seen is a genuine commitment to work with Canadians, consult with Canadians on the very important issues of tax fairness. I can assure members as we witnessed even in that small window from the moment in which we took office to the time we presented legislation on tax fairness to the presentation of the budget, that thousands, and if we factor in the Internet, hundreds of thousands of Canadians were brought in to the circle of consultation in the hope of improving our system.
The good news to the member across the way, even if he does not get what he wants within this legislation, that at the end of the day, he is looking across the way at a government that is genuinely concerned about reforming our tax system. We will do our work in terms of talking to the many different stakeholders, because we want what all Canadians want, and that is a higher sense of tax fairness.