OTTAWA - The federal government has made much about its record in cutting taxes, but a new report shows it is making out like a bandit on user fees.
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page's report on user fees shows Ottawa raked in just over $8 billion in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
That represents only a small portion of what it gets from taxes, but it's more than double the $3.4 billion it got from user fees a decade earlier.
In fact, the PBO says user fees have been increasing at around nine per cent annually since 2000.
User fees are defined as revenues derived from the sale of goods and services the government offers the public.
That can include publications, rentals of lands, buildings and vehicles, or such things as temporary resident permits and divorce registrations.
The PBO says five departments — Industry Canada, the RCMP, the Canada Revenue Agency, Natural Resources and Public Works — account for 70 per cent of total revenues from user fees.
The budget watchdog notes that this is not just an Ottawa trend. User fees are rising at the provincial and municipal levels as well, and around the world as governments seek new revenue streams.
In fact, Ottawa is a small player in the charging of user fees. In 2010, provinces collected about $31 billion from services to the public, four times what the federal government took in, and municipalities earned roughly $18 billion.