Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to the bill presented by my colleague from Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, a bill that is being presented for the second time.
I would like to point out his determination—I would even say his endurance and pride—in coming back once more before the House with a bill that will make things much easier for those who work as mechanics.
Moreover, this is a votable bill. As we all know, my colleague presented the same bill in the last parliament, and 213 members voted in favour of the bill. That says a lot, when you think that there are 301 members in the House.
Again, we hope to have the same kind of support for this bill, which is really forward looking in this field, and I want to insist on that.
The purpose of the bill is to allow mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment. In the last 15 years, members from almost all parties have introduced private member's bills to ensure that mechanics could deduct the cost of their tools.
It is very important here to consider that—I am going to speak a little about the past—when we began even a few years ago to encourage all our young people to go to university, as my colleague mentioned earlier in his speech, we neglected the vocational sector to some degree.
I was looking earlier at the statistics in my own riding. I have 1,300 mechanics working in the Laurentides riding. That is not insignificant. A look at the work of mechanics reveals it to be fairly hard work, physically difficult and requiring a lot of energy and good health. It is not the sort of job a person can continue doing to age 70. It is the sort of job people retire early from, at age 50 or 55, because it requires an enormous amount of physical energy.
These people will therefore expend their energy differently and much more physically than we parliamentarians here in the House.
It is an absolutely vital trade. We could never do without mechanics. Madam Speaker, if you had a flat on the highway, or if I did, I can tell you I would be very happy to see a mechanic coming to help. Even changing a spare is not something all the members of the House could do.
This is a very important trade, for which I have very great respect. As I was saying, in another decade, everyone went to university. Now we are realizing we have a shortage, especially in areas such as mechanics. Young people get specialized training in schools and colleges. They pay a lot for that, and when they enter the labour market, most private places they go to work for, either garages or institutions, ask then “Listen, do you have your tool chest?”
But a tool chest costs a lot of money. It does not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it still costs several thousands. To work in a garage or a service station, these young people need a solid background, and the necessary tools right from the start.
Sure enough, if we compare with Bombardier, it will supply tools to its workers. Bombardier is specialized in this area. But if you take an independent worker, who works in a small garage in a village or in a local garage, as much as possible he must provide his own basic tools. It is like a hairdresser; she needs her tools to work and she provides them.
So he is considered to be a sort of self-employed worker. These young people are barely into their twenties when they enter the labour market, and they are penalized, often on top of having to pay back their tuition, costs of special training, because they must go into debt just as they are hitting adulthood in order to pay for tools. I think that this is unacceptable.
When we see that the federal government is racking up surpluses on the backs of unemployed workers—we are talking about a whopping $38 billion—when we see that it has so much money and that it is not able to help young people get a start in life, that is unacceptable.
This bill would correct this situation. It would be an excellent beginning for the government. It could stop resorting to parables and show us once and for all that it truly intends to help young people enter the labour market. It could innovate even further because, in other trades, such as plumbing or electrical, in all these fields, it could eventually do almost the same thing.
There are 1,300 mechanics in my riding of Laurentides. We should be able to encourage these people from the beginning; we are not asking for the moon and the stars. There are 115,000 mechanics in this country who invest an average of between $15,000 and $40,000 each for their tools and equipment. Their average pay is not all that much; according to some, they earn an average of $29,000 annually. With $29,000, if a mechanic has to buy a set of tools worth between $15,000 and $40,000, I can tell the House that it will take a mechanic many years to pay for them; this is a form of mortgage for these people and a mortgage takes 20 years to pay off.
I believe that we have the means, the capacity and the cash to help them get a start in life. We keep hearing in committee that young people are important, that women are important, that everything possible is going to be done to help them, so perhaps it is high time the Liberal government made good on its desire to do good deeds. We are still hearing talk in the human resources development committee about loans and scholarships, but that is not what is needed.
What is needed is something tangible. We need the government to take prompt action in matters such as this. We need a majority vote here in this House. The Minister of Finance has the fiscal capacity to accommodate it. It can be calculated, very rapidly even. We need a gesture of good will from this government.
I repeat that I totally support my colleague for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans and sincerely hope we can have as good a vote as we did during the last parliament, that our colleagues will be informed on the issue and will also speak on it. They are, of course, welcome to add their comments on Bill C-222.
We would be very pleased to finally see a tax policy that will help trades people, who often have not had the opportunity to attend university but who work very hard at what they do, who do marvellous work and for whom we have enormous respect. These people absolutely deserve to have help getting off to a good start in life.
Today in the House, the government has an opportunity to provide these young people with the support they so greatly need. We cannot ignore them. We need positive, real and tangible policies so that our young people can get off to a real start toward a better life.