REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE

THURSDAY, February 26, 2004

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance

has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT


Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-212, An Act respecting user fees, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, February 11, 2004, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments: 

1. Page 1, clause 2:  

(a) Replace lines 8 and 9 with the following: 

““Committee” means, in respect of each House of Parliament, the appropriate standing committee of that House.”; 

(b) Replace line 17 with the following: 

““Minister” means the appropriate minister, as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, who is responsible for”;  

(c) Replace lines 21 to 23 with the following: 

“body mentioned in Schedule I, I.1 or II to the Financial Administration Act that has the power to fix a user fee under the authority of an Act of Parliament.  Where the Act gives that power to the Governor in Council or a Minister, it means the body proposing the user fee.”; and

(d) Replace lines 25 to 28 with the following: 

"product, regulatory process, authorization, permit or licence, facility, or for a service that is provided only by a regulating authority, that is fixed pursuant to the authority of an Act of Parliament and which results". 

2. Page 2, clause 3: Replace lines 1 to 9 with the following:    

"3. (1) This Act applies to all user fees fixed by a regulating authority. 

(2) This Act does not apply to a user fee fixed by one regulating authority and charged to another.". 

3. Pages 2 and 3, clause 4

(a) Page 2

(i) Replace lines 29 to 31 with the following: 

“(e) establish an independent advisory panel to address a complaint submitted by a client regarding”, and 

(ii) Replace lines 34 and 35 with the following: 

“to those established by other countries with which a comparison is relevant and against which the”; and 

(b) Page 3: 

(i) Replace lines 2 and 3 with the following: 

“Minister must cause to be tabled in each House of Parliament a proposal”, 

(ii) Replace line 4 with the following: 

“(a) explaining in respect of what service, product, regulatory process,”, 

(iii) Replace lines 9 to 12 with the following: 

“(c) including the performance standards established in accordance with paragraph (1)(f), as well as the actual performance levels that have been reached;”, 

(iv) Replace line 17 with the following: 

“the costs that the user fee will cover; and 

(e) describing the establishment of an independent advisory panel in accordance with paragraph (1)(e) and describing how any complaints received under section 4.1 were dealt with.”, and 

(v) Replace lines 20 and 21 with the following: 

“higher than that existing in a country with which a comparison referred to in paragraph (1)(f) is relevant, the”. 

(c) Page 3: Add after line 25 the following: 

4.1 (1) A regulating authority that receives a complaint about a proposed user fee within the period set out in a notice issued by that authority must 

(a) try to resolve the complaint; and  

(b) give the complainant notice in writing of proposed measures for its resolution. 

(2) If the complaint is not resolved to the complainant's satisfaction within 30 days after the expiry of the period set out in the notice, the complainant may request in writing that the regulating authority refer the complaint to an independent advisory panel. 

(3) Within 40 days after the expiry of the period set out in the notice, the regulating authority and the complainant must each select one member to sit on the panel and those members must select a third member. 

(4) The regulating authority may decide, for reasons of economy and efficiency, that two or more complaints about a particular proposal be dealt with by the same panel. In that case, the panel member to be selected by the complainants is selected by a majority vote. 

(5) The panel must, within 30 days after all members have been selected, send a report in writing of its findings and recommendations for resolving the dispute to the regulating authority and the complainant. 

(6) Subject to subsection (7), the panel has the power to award costs of the proceedings, including the cost of the fees and expenses of panel members. 

(7) If, in the opinion of the panel, a complaint is frivolous or vexatious, the complainant bears all the costs. 

(8) Costs payable by the complainant become a debt due to Her Majesty and may be recovered as such in any court of competent jurisdiction.”. 

4. Page 3, clause 5:  

(a) Replace lines 27 to 29 with the following: 

“for a user fee referred to it”; and 

(b) Replace line 31 with the following: 

“Senate or the House of Commons, as the case may be, a report containing its". 

5. Pages 3 and 4, clause 5.1

(a) Page 3: Replace lines 34 to 38 with the following: 

5.1 Where a regulating authority's performance in a particular fiscal year in respect of a user fee does not meet the standards established by it for that fiscal year by a percentage greater than ten per cent, the user fee shall be reduced by a percentage equivalent to the unachieved performance, to a maximum of fifty per cent of the user fee. The reduced user fee applies from the day on which the annual report for the fiscal year is tabled under subsection 8(1) until the day on which the next annual report is tabled.”; and 

(b) Page 4: Delete lines 1 and 2. 

6. Page 4, clause 6:   

(a) Replace line 3 with the following: 

6. (1) The Senate or the House of Commons may pass a”; and 

(b) Replace lines 7 to 12 with the following: 

“(2) If, within twenty sitting days after the tabling of a proposal under subsection 4(2), the Committee fails to submit a report containing its recommendation to the Senate or the House of Commons, as the case may be, the Committee is deemed to have submitted a report recommending that the proposed user fee be approved.”. 

7. Page 4, clause 7: Delete clause 7 and renumber the subsequent clauses accordingly. 

8. Page 4, clause 8:  

(a) Replace lines 21 and 22 with the following: 

“before each House of Parliament, on or before December 31”.

 

(b) Add after line 27 the following:

 

8.1 A review of the provisions and operation of this Act shall be completed by the President of the Treasury Board during the third year after this Act is assented to. The Minister shall cause a report of the results of the review to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.”.  

9. Pages 4 and 5, clause 9: Delete clause 9 and renumber the subsequent clauses accordingly. 

10. Page 5, clause 10: Delete clause 10 and renumber the subsequent clauses accordingly.

Respectfully submitted,

Lowell Murray
Chairman


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