Crit­ics: Cana­dian Grain Com­mis­sion con­tin­ues to over­charge farm­ers

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Farm News - CON­TRIB­UTED

The Western Cana­dian Wheat Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion is out­raged that the Cana­dian Grain Com­mis­sion con­tin­ues to over­charge farm­ers for their grain in­spec­tion, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a $130 Mil­lion sur­plus in the process.

“This sur­plus is built on the backs of hard work­ing farm­ers, money that should be in their pock­ets, not CGC cof­fers. The CGC con­tin­ues to keep their check-off fee higher than is re­quired to meet their op­er­a­tional bud­get re­sult­ing in this enor­mous sur­plus. These funds should be re­funded to the farm­ers that earned it and the check-off fee rate re­duced,” said Levi Wood, Pres­i­dent.

The $130M sur­plus will be split be­tween the Re­serve Fund ($40M) and un­spec­i­fied Strate­gic In­vest­ments ($90M). These funds were al­lo­cated by CGC with­out con­sul­ta­tions to grain or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the WCWGA.

On April 25, 2017, the WCWGA re­ceived a le­gal opin­ion that the CGC is in vi­o­la­tion of Sec­tion 5.1 of the User Fees Act and Sec­tion 53 of the Con­sti­tu­tion Act, 1867. The opin­ion states, “This has been in­ter­preted by the Supreme Court of Canada to pro­hibit any part of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, other than the House of Com­mons, from ini­ti­at­ing a tax. There­fore, the Com­mis­sion may not col­lect Fees that in law amount to a tax.” The le­gal opin­ion may be read in its en­tirety here.

Jus­tice Roth­stein clearly and suc­cinctly set forth the rule gov­ern­ing reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties col­lect­ing user fees that con­sti­tute a tax:

“Sec­tion 23 of the Parks Agency Act spec­i­fies that the Minister can­not

set a user fee for ser­vices or fa­cil­i­ties that is higher than the cost to the gov­ern­ment of pro­vid­ing them.” "This is un­ac­cept­able. These over­charges by CGC, which amount to tax, are taken from the farmer's bot­tom line and should not be used to ex­pand the man­date of the grain com­mis­sion. It is time we look at pri­vate sec­tor num­bers and find the most trust­wor­thy and most cost­ef­fec­tive way to pro­vide the ser­vices of CGC. It would be at a frac­tion of the cost," said Jim Wick­ett, Chair.

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