REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT


Your committee, to which was referred the document entitled “Proposed Revision to User Fees, November 2008,” has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, January 28, 2009, examined certain proposed changes to existing user fees under, and, in accordance with section 5 of the User Fees Act, recommends that they be approved. 

The 2004 User Fees Act of Parliament gives the power to examine the introduction or change to any user fee by any regulatory authority in Canada. 

Your committee notes that this process provides important measures in transparency, accountability and value for money. 

Under the legislative authority of the Explosives Act, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada has proposed a revised fee schedule and additional user fees for cost recovery related to Explosives Regulatory Division (“the Division”) activities. 

User fees for the Division were last set by regulations in 1993.  The Division sought authority to increase its user fees through the User Fees Act and regulations in 2005 and 2008.  In both cases, the Division was unsuccessful because federal elections were called before the amendments were approved or before the required 20 sitting days elapsed.  Therefore, the user fees proposed represent the first regulatory increase in 16 years and as a result some of these fees have increased significantly.

Your Committee heard from officials from Natural Resources Canada on Thursday, March 5, 2009 and questioned them extensively on the proposed user fee increases.  In particular, your committee wanted to know details concerning consultations the Division had with stakeholders, as required by the User Fees Act.  Your committee sought assurance that stakeholder concerns had been heard and addressed.  Upon hearing testimony on this matter, your committee is satisfied that this had taken place.  For example, a proposal for a cost recovery of 80 per cent for a particular item was reduced to 45 per cent after stakeholder feedback.  Department officials stated that stakeholders gave written approval that they were satisfied with the approach taken for the cost recovery of that item. 

Having had the opportunity to hear testimony on this matter and examine the proposed changes to user fees, your committee recommends that they be approved.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair


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