An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of mechanics' tool expenses)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Leon Benoit  Canadian Alliance

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 7, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

May 11th, 2001 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak in support of Bill C-222, an act to amend the Income Tax Act for the deduction of expenses incurred by a mechanic for the tools required for employment.

I first acknowledge the tremendous leadership my Canadian Alliance colleague from Lakeland has shown in providing information on the issue. He introduced Bill C-244, which is identical in subject matter to the bill before us today, and I know that as a newly elected member of parliament it is issues such as this one and the quality and calibre of representation of members like the member for Lakeland that bring credit to this institution.

During the November 22, 2000, election I had the opportunity to speak to a number of mechanics who were very aware of this issue. In fact I spoke to one mechanic from Petawawa, Ontario who told me that he had been working on this issue for 30 years. It was his wish that while it was probably too late for him to see any fairness on the issue, hopefully this issue could be resolved for his son who is looking to follow in his footsteps now.

What has been very disappointing in regard to this issue is how it so clearly demonstrates the dysfunction of parliament. This is a private member's bill. All members should be allowed to look at the proposal and then decide on behalf of their constituents whether this is an issue that they should support. All members should let their conscience be their guide and vote accordingly. In the last election Liberal members said they supported this legislation.

The government does not care about whether or not its members have an informed opinion about a particular piece of legislation. They are now being whipped into line with the silliest of objections. It is a shame that members of the government party are muzzled in the way they are.

I am proud that I am able to do something that no government member is allowed to do, that is, to speak freely and vote freely in the House of Commons. This sad fact was also brought home with the decision by the Liberal Party to force its members, except for one or two brave souls, to vote against its election promise, something it received votes for as part of its election platform, to vote against an independent ethics counsellor. What a sad day for the democratic process in Canada.

I know that there are some conscientious members on the government side. There were enough of them on the House of Commons finance committee before the last election to direct the Minister of Finance in their report, in prebudget consultations, and tell him to do the right thing and change the tax rules so that mechanics would be treated fairly.

Let us take a look at some of the government's objections. These objections were raised by the government in regard to implementing tax fairness for mechanics. Let us be clear. We are not talking about special treatment. We are talking about fairness.

The Liberal government's first excuse is that mechanics make too much money for this write-off. Frankly that is such a foolish assertion that I am astonished the government even made it. This proposal is not about whether mechanics are charity cases and whether the government should throw them a few scraps. This is about being treated fairly under the Income Tax Act and in relation to how others are treated as well. It is a sad commentary that the Liberal Party should feel this way.

The Liberal government also says it is true that mechanics need to spend anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 on tools, but that is a cost incurred over maybe 40 years. That may be the way the government does equipment procurement for the military, but I have news for the government: tools wear out or get lost.

That is why some employers make it a condition of hiring that mechanics buy their own tools. If mechanics do not own their own tools, some owners have found, the tools disappear. They get left on vehicles or misplaced. It just happens. I am not talking about theft because I do not believe that to be a problem whatsoever. Tools get misplaced around the home as well. The issue is that mechanics must have their own tools as a condition of employment. Others such as shop owners can write off the cost of their tools. The issue here is tax fairness.

The Liberal government knows this but it persists with the myth that somehow this is a special treatment rule. It is not. It is an issue of tax fairness.

Blood Samples ActPrivate Members' Business

March 20th, 2001 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

moved that Bill C-217, an act to provide for the taking of samples of blood for the benefit of persons administering and enforcing the law and good Samaritans and to amend the criminal code, be read the second time and referred to committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand here today and speak in favour of Bill C-217, the blood samples act. Before I discuss the pith and substance of this legislation and give three excellent reasons why members should support the bill, I would like to tell the story of how this legislation came into being and how it developed to the stage it is at now.

On April 12, 1999, I received a letter from a father who lives in my riding. I will quote from his correspondence:

My eldest son was involved in an incident at work (Canadian Tire in Abbotsford) a few weeks ago which has raised a large question for me. He helped apprehend a would-be shoplifter and in the scuffle some blood from the accused came to be on my son. My son is now on medication from the Aids Prevention Society (St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver). We won't be able to test him to see if he has contracted any disease until after three months (because the HIV antibody does not show up until then). However, all it would take is for the accused to take a blood test to see if he has any such disease (he's a known heroin addict to the RCMP in Abbotsford). The accused refuses to take such a blood test and the law, I've been told, supports him in his refusal. Here again, is a case where the victim is being punished and the accused's rights take precedence over the victim's rights. What can we as a family do? What, as our MP, can you do to help us, to help my son?

I took this father's plea to help seriously and I started researching his very deep and legitimate concerns. What I found was that this father's assertions were correct. When a good Samaritan, a police officer, a health care worker, a doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, a prison worker, a security guard, a firefighter or an emergency personnel worker of any kind is exposed to someone else's bodily fluids in the course of their duties, antibodies for HIV, AIDS or hepatitis may not appear for weeks or months in their bodies after the initial infection.

Therefore, the best way for these individuals to know if they have been exposed to a particular virus at the moment of initial contact is to acquire a blood sample from the person who infected them and then have that sample tested.

The information from the blood test allows frontline workers and good Samaritans to make properly informed decisions about post-exposure treatment and lifestyle activities. It also helps reduce severe anxiety levels for them and their families.

For example, let me read to the House just the known side effects of post-exposure treatment for HIV: potential harm to reproductive capacity; hair loss; coughing; abdominal pain; kidney stones; higher risk of contracting diabetes; total exhaustion; severe headaches; and perpetual nausea. The Canadian Police Association is also tracking one case involving a police officer who is gradually losing his eyesight since taking the treatment.

If frontline workers can discover through a blood test that they have not been exposed to someone who has HIV or hepatitis, they do not have to take the drug treatment that causes these symptoms, symptoms that can last for several months.

Oftentimes blood samples are given voluntarily and people should be praised when they do so. The crux of the debate here today, however, is what should the government do and what should public policy say when someone refuses to give a blood sample to hurt someone else and has the legal right to do so, even when the information being held is extremely valuable to society?

To answer that question, I tabled Bill C-244 in the House of Commons on October 19, 1999. Bill C-217 is exactly the same legislation.

In a nutshell, Bill C-217 allows a judge to order the taking of a blood sample from someone who accidentally or deliberately exposes a good Samaritan, a health professional, an emergency professional or a security professional with his or her blood or other bodily fluids. The blood would be tested for HIV and hepatitis.

The legislation would only be applied on rare occasions when someone refuses to give a blood sample for testing. The information would only be shared with the medical staff and affected individuals. The blood test analysis would only be used for medical purposes, with the highest levels of confidentiality.

At this point, I do want to mention my deepest sympathy for HIV-AIDS and hepatitis sufferers in Canada. The trauma and pain they feel is great. I want to reassure all of them that this legislation does not single out any individual or group who may suffer from a disease in Canada. It will not make life more difficult for people who find themselves in such trying circumstances. Rather, it is designed for those rare occasions when someone refuses to give a blood sample, which will in turn damage someone else.

Bill C-217 is about helping others. It is about compassion.

After Bill C-244 was deemed votable, it received enormous support from thousands of individuals and organizations across the country, including the Canadian Police Association, whose members have been on the Hill today on their annual lobbying day.

Also on the Hill today is a lady by the name of Detective Isobel Anderson, who was exposed to a suspect's bodily fluids a few years ago. She has played an instrumental role in supporting and promoting this legislation.

Let me read to the House part of her story, which was published on November 15, 1999, in the Ottawa Citizen :

Isobel Anderson's nightmarish experience began when she arrested a man for armed robbery in October 1997. While searching for weapons, she reached into his pocket and felt a stab of pain. She pulled her hand out to find a bloody needle stuck in her palm. My first thought was “God, I have AIDS”, recalls Constable Anderson, a mother of three.

As she feared, doctors told her that the needle may have infected her with HIV. She was advised that if she started treatment with the anti-HIV medication AZT within two hours of being jabbed, she might not contract the virus. Then she learned that the robbery suspect refused to take the HIV test and could not be compelled by law to give a blood sample.

In this case, hours later the man agreed to be tested, but only after another police officer—and I hate to say this, but it is the truth—offered the man a hamburger. The man said for a hamburger he would provide a blood sample. Thankfully he tested negative for HIV, although he was positive for hepatitis C. Upon hearing this news, Isobel discontinued taking the drug cocktail that was causing her severe physical harm.

It is because of excellent and supportive people like Isobel Anderson and groups like the CPA, the paramedic association of Canada, hospitals, doctors and emergency workers of all kinds that Bill C-244 received unanimous consent to proceed to committee on March 21 last year. The legislation then went on to receive two days of committee hearings and died on the order paper October 22, 2000 due to the election call. I reintroduced it as Bill C-217 in the 37th parliament and that is the legislation before the House today.

Presently the questions before parliament are the following. Will we continue to support a system that allows those who help others to become helpless? Will we continue to support a system that allows those who sacrifice to become sacrificed? Will we still support a system that allows the heroes to become the victims? Or will we today, in the debate that follows, support cautious, moderate and balanced change in the form of Bill C-217 which will protect frontline workers and good Samaritans? For their sake, we need to send the bill to committee where experts can make suggestions, propose amendments, strengthen the bill and make sure that it is acceptable to the charter.

There are those who would oppose protecting frontline workers and good Samaritans by placing roadblocks in front of the legislation. Let me review some of these hindrances and why they can easily be overcome. I will then describe the three reasons why the House must support the legislation and send it to committee.

First, people will say that Bill C-217 does not meet the criteria for federal criminal law power, but that is not true. Let me explain why. For a law to form criminal law, it must meet three criteria. The first step is to consider whether the law has a valid criminal law purpose. Valid purposes include public peace, order, security, health and morality. Bill C-217 meets these criteria because it is aimed at providing security and protecting the health of those who help and protect society. It also attempts to contribute to public peace by protecting those who enforce the criminal code.

Second, in determining whether the purpose of a law constitutes a valid criminal law purpose, courts look at whether laws of this type have traditionally been held to be criminal law. Bill C-217 meets this criteria because the criminal code already contains two provisions that deal with the non-voluntary taking of bodily fluids: section 487.05, the DNA provisions, and paragraph 254(3)(b), the impaired driving provisions.

Third, the purpose of the law must also be connected to a prohibition backed by a penalty. The bill also meets this standard because it uses a penalty to prohibit the act of harming someone by refusing to give a blood sample. I have heard testimony from many police officers and prison guards who say that they have been confronted by a blood wielding opponent with a needle full of blood or bodily fluid who exposes them to it and then says they have AIDS or hepatitis. The bill tries to eliminate or reduce this harm by letting those officers know whether that is true or not.

Bill C-217 also places a criminal penalty on someone for failure to take a certain step. The supreme court, for instance, upheld the gun registry as criminal law because it penalizes someone for not doing something. In other words, it is not just a commission of a crime, it is also the omission, not doing something, which in that case, of course, was registering their firearm.

The second hindrance that people will put forward is that Bill C-217 would offend charter rights. There is no question that section 7 of the charter, security of the person, and section 8 of the charter, unreasonable search and seizure, are engaged by the legislation. Some argue that the bill should not become law because it would violate the charter in those respects. However, again I beg to differ, for the following reasons.

Bill C-217 provides a fair and proper balance between the charter rights of the sick, injured and perpetrators of crime, and the rights of those in the service of helping others. It is a balancing act. Under the present system, emergency and law enforcement professionals and good Samaritans have no right to the security of their own persons.

Bill C-217 would not violate the charter because it can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. A constitutional expert who appeared before the justice committee last June asserted that the Diment decision established a standard by which compulsory blood testing would be allowed under the charter.

He said the following about the decision:

The Justice writing for the Court said, and he made it very clear, that the invasion of privacy such as compulsory blood testing will only be sanctioned by the charter where societal claims outweigh the privacy interests and where clear rules exist setting forth the conditions under which the privacy right can be violated. Such rules would of course also be subject to charter scrutiny.

To summarize this point, for a case to be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society the societal claims must outweigh the privacy claims, and clear rules must exist setting forth the conditions under which a blood sample could be taken.

Does Bill C-217 meet this standard? Absolutely, yes. Emergency workers and police officers, the very people who help and protect us, receive protection under Bill C-217 and thereby society as a whole benefits.

There is some argument that emergency personnel do not receive any valuable information from the blood tests of those who expose them. I will rebut that argument in a moment, but I also want to say that in regard to clear rules, this legislation is only activated with the approval of a judge and with the utmost sensitivity to people's basic human rights and privacy. It is done in rare cases that warrant this kind of action.

The third hindrance that you will hear from people, Mr. Speaker, is that a blood sample does not offer societal value.

I would like to quote Dr. Shafran. He is an infectious disease expert from the University of Alberta who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice last year on the bill. He said:

I think there are a number of benefits to the proposed legislation. The specific benefit of the legislation is that since the prevalence of infection with all three blood-borne viruses in Canada is low, the majority of individuals, if the source individuals are tested, will test negative and very quickly the anxiety level will be reduced in the exposed individual. Secondly, in the event that transmission does occur, there will be documentation as to how it occurred and this is relevant in terms of issues of occupational exposure.

Third, he stated further that:

The prompt identification of infected source patients will allow the most appropriate and judicious use of post-exposure prophylaxis. In the voluntary testing that happens in the hospital patients, if they test negative, we do not offer post-exposure prophylaxis. It very much influences the way we practice.

However, the best response to this question of societal value is the personal testimonies of the people themselves. Ask those that have been exposed if this has value. Ask Isobel Anderson and the hundreds of police officers who have been on Parliament Hill today. Ask the thousands of groups and people who support this legislation. Ask my young constituent and his father. Ask the police officer who is losing his eyesight. Ask the justice official who represented the Department of Justice before the committee last year when he said:

Don't get me wrong. If I were the one who had been involved in an incident like this, I would be very much interested in getting as much information as I could as to whether or not I had been infected.

In short, it is quite obvious that mandatory blood testing in rare cases would meet the societal benefit standard of the charter.

To sum up, there are three reasons why the House should support this bill. I hope all members will be able to do so.

Bill C-217 is about positive change to the legal system, change that would provide fairness, a better balance between differing rights and assistance for those who are in the service of others.

First, the blood samples act is about fairness. Presently emergency workers and good Samaritans do not have the right to know what blood-borne virus may have invaded their bodies from another person. We need a sensitive, balanced procedure to help those people make an informed choice about their health. Bill C-217 will do that for them. It is a balanced approach, it is fair, and it treats privacy conditions properly.

Second, the blood samples act is about balancing rights. Under the present system, only the perpetrator of a crime or the injured or sick person has the right to the security of their person. However, I believe the same security should also apply to the protector and the caregiver. Bill C-217 will do that. It will balance the rights so that charter rights are protected for both groups of people.

Third, the blood samples act is about compassion and helping those who help others in our society. If people put themselves in harm's way trying to help or trying to arrest someone, there should be some safeguards for them when they are exposed to risk. Let us be compassionate with this legislation and help those who are helping others. Bill C-217 will do that.

In conclusion, this legislation has also been called the good Samaritan act after my young constituent who was covered in blood during his good Samaritan act. Some would say it is also called the good Samaritan act because the bill would benefit the health and peace of mind of thousands of emergency, health and security and paramedic workers who give of themselves every day so that we can enjoy a better life.

I would also argue that Bill C-217 is also called the good Samaritan act because it provides an opportunity for members of parliament to act like good Samaritans. The choice before us today is clear. We can refuse to support the bill and in so doing deny frontline and emergency workers their health and their peace of mind, or we can in, the spirit of good Samaritanism, provide health, compassion and assistance to those who are hurt, needy and give of themselves in the service of others.

We must allow privacy sensitive, human rights sensitive and balanced mandatory blood testing in rare cases to build a system that allows those who help others to be helped and allows our heroes to stay heroes instead of becoming victims. Let us pass Bill C-217 to help those in the service of others.

Tax On ToolsPrivate Members' Business

February 28th, 2001 / 5:45 p.m.
See context

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Acadie—Bathurst for his initiative in bringing the motion before the House of Commons.

I also congratulate him on his good news.

Mechanics' tools and tools required for work seem to be a very topical debate right now. The motion proposes that the Excise Tax Act be amended to eliminate the application of the goods and services tax and the harmonized sales tax for employees in trades who are required as a condition of their employment to provide on the job tools.

Currently GST-HST relief is provided via a rebate mechanism for the GST-HST paid on those employee expenses that are deductible in computing an employee's income from employment for income tax purposes.

It is recognized that presently there are a number of private members' bills, as I mentioned before, Bill C-222, Bill C-244 and Bill C-225, before the House with respect to the income tax treatment of the tools of mechanics and others.

As the GST and the HST rules should be consistent with those for income tax purposes, it is prudent to await the outcome of the debates and the outcome of the discussions on these private members' bills. I am sure the hon. member would agree.

Nevertheless, it should be stated that any tax policy with respect to the matter of employee tools should be fair. In addition, any changes should also be relatively simple to administer and enforce for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, and easy to comply with for taxpayers. In this regard, any changes with respect to the tax treatment of employee provided tools should take into account a number of factors.

First, any measure in this regard should be targeted to extraordinary expenses. In other words, the cost of the tools in question should be beyond those that most employees must incur in the normal course of employment. The motion before the House today would provide GST and HST relief to all employees irrespective of the size of their expenditures instead of targeting relief to those who incur extraordinary expenses relative to their income.

For employees with tool expenses comparable to those incurred by other employees this would be unwarranted as tax relief for normal employment expenses is provided through the basic personal exemption amount. That is the case with apprentices. Perhaps a special case needs to be considered for those with low incomes and high tool costs.

Second, effective control mechanisms would have to be put in place. Under existing rules for income tax purposes the employer must certify certain expenses as eligible for deduction from employment income. This is important as many items provide a personal benefit even when they are required for work. One would need to ensure that any tax relief is provided only for items required as a condition of employment and not for those purchased for personal use.

This would be very difficult to do because many items could be purchased mostly for personal reasons even if they are used for work. For instance, the computers home based employees need to purchase are available outside working hours for personal use. In these circumstances providing full tax recognition and a GST-HST employee rebate would be unwarranted.

Finally, any new measures would have to both take into account the existing capital cost allowance provisions and appropriately deal with change of use and transfers to other arms length persons.

The provisions needed to address these issues would inevitably be very complex since they would need to account for the large variety of items for which tax relief may be claimed and the different work situations in which such items are used.

To understand this, let us consider the extensive provisions needed to ensure the equitable recognition of automotive expenses. Provisions governing the deductibility of employee equipment expenditures and corresponding GST-HST employee rebates would apply to hundreds of disparate items and numerous occupations.

As members can see, this is a complex issue with many aspects that need to be examined carefully. In particular, with respect to the GST-HST employee rebate, I hope the hon. members agree that it is essential to ensure that the GST-HST rules be consistent with those for income tax purposes.

As a result, I think members of the House would agree, given the number of other private members' bills dealing with the tools of mechanics and others, that it is prudent to wait for the outcome of the aforementioned private members' bills, for the deliberations of the House and for any government response that might deal with the issue of income tax deductions for employee tools.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2001 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-244 introduced by the Canadian Alliance member for Lakeland, particularly in view of the fact that a member of the Bloc examined this issue for a long time and had previously introduced almost exactly the same bill.

We will have another opportunity in this 37th parliament to consider the Bloc Quebecois bill introduced by the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré, since his bill deals with the same subject, except that the Canadian Alliance deduction is set at $200 compared to $250 for the Bloc. But the real difference is the fact that the bill introduced by the Bloc Quebecois member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans will be votable.

The House will be allowed to vote on this tax deduction which is a rather important issue for the low and medium wage workers. These people are not rolling in money.

Actually, I might even look a bit surprised after what I have just heard from the government, since as a result of the work of the Bloc member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, members have already voted on a similar bill to grant a $250 tax deduction when buying tools, insurance or anything else pertaining to this kind of work.

Except maybe for a few members on the front benches, the Liberals had for the most part voted in favour of the bill. If I remember well, I think the House voted for the bill 180 to 11.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2001 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

moved that Bill C-244, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of mechanics' tool expenses) be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am truly delighted to be able to rise to debate this bill once again. I first introduced it in the House in 1997, four years ago. It has been debated on at least five days since then and I have spoken on it myself four or five times.

In spite of that we have had no action from the government, but I am quite confident that we will have after today's debate. I believe it will go to committee at some time in the near future and some action will be taken. However, it will certainly require the continued efforts of mechanics, technicians and others across the country to ensure that this happens. It is not something we can take for granted.

Since I introduced my bill four years ago and in fact in the two months immediately following that, I received over 7,000 letters from technicians and from people who owned businesses that did mechanical repairs on vehicles and so on, from right across the country, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. The support for that bill was widespread indeed. Since the member from the Bloc introduced the same bill just before the last election, we have received over 70,000 postcards from right across the country. The support for the bill is undeniable. I will talk about that later.

The issue of the bill is that technicians and mechanics who, as a condition of employment, are required to purchase tools and to maintain a line of tools are not allowed to deduct for tax purposes the cost of these tools. That is the issue.

It seems completely inconsistent when we have other groups of people such as artists and others who are allowed to deduct from their incomes the cost of the equipment they purchase to carry out their occupations. It is also inconsistent when we see that business people are allowed to claim these expenses as the cost of doing business, whether they run the corner garage, a large machinery dealership or a farm implement dealership. They are of course allowed to claim all the costs of doing business and that includes the cost of tools.

I guess the problem arises from the disappearance of tools. As a farmer, I have done a lot of mechanical work and I have seen a lot of tools disappear. That was okay until my kids were old enough so that I could kind of point the finger of blame at them; every time a tool disappeared I could say my kids walked away with it, that it was not my own carelessness. The problem is that with the kinds of conditions we work in, tools do disappear, and if the tools are owned by the business owner, they probably disappear a little more often, because someone is not quite careful enough to collect them after finishing a motor job or something else.

In some cases no doubt they are stolen, but in most cases it is just a matter of carelessness. Sometimes they are left on a vehicle and when it is taken out for a test drive or when farm equipment is taken out to be tested or used again, the tools are gone. It adds up to thousands of dollars. It is a serious cost.

For that reason, we have seen right across the country a common requirement of employment that mechanics purchase their own tools. That is a condition of employment, so there is the problem. Business people do what makes sense, because they know that technicians and mechanics will be a little more vigilant when they are dealing with their own tools and when they have to purchase out of their own pockets any tools lost. Yet in spite of that, technicians and mechanics are just not allowed to claim the cost for tax purposes.

That is the issue here and it is a serious one. Because of this there is a shortage of mechanics and technicians right across the country right now, with no indication that the shortage will be reduced in any way. It is a serious problem.

What I want to do with the rest of my presentation today is to demonstrate that there is broad support for this change and to explain how it is an issue of tax fairness and how the finance committee of the House, on different occasions, has indicated that this is a change which should be made because it is an issue of tax fairness.

I then want to close by talking a bit about the process to date with the bill in the House, to explain to Canadians and to technicians that it has been a long process, too long, I would argue.

I want to carry on by talking about the support. I have already referred to over 7,000 letters that I personally received from technicians on this issue, and the 70,000 postcards. I know that every member of parliament in the House has received letters and phone calls from technicians about this piece of legislation. I doubt that there is one who has not.

When the bill was introduced by the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans and made votable in the last parliament, it was widely supported by members of every political party in the House, including the governing party. There is support for the piece of legislation in every way imaginable. There is no need to belabour the point.

The bill is about tax fairness. It is about giving mechanics what is already available to certain other groups in society and what is already available to the business people who hire mechanics, if they choose to purchase tools for their use. Clearly it is a matter of fairness.

I would like to quote from the December 1997 House of Commons finance committee prebudget report which stated:

The Committee believes that all Canadian employees should be allowed to deduct from their income the cost of large mandatory employment expenses. Special provisions in the Income Tax Act already apply to artists, chainsaw operators and musicians. To deny this tax treatment to apprentices and technicians in the automotive industry is not only unfair, it also imposes an impediment to employment, especially for the young who might choose to work as apprentices. Revising the tax treatment of such expenses would remove the impediment that exists under the present tax rules.

The finance committee was very clear, and it was repeated later by the finance committee. The finance committee is controlled by a majority of members from the governing side. They recognize that this change should happen. I do not understand where the resistance is coming from.

It is funny that the government only seems to act on a situation of tax fairness when it means more revenue and when it means that it can raise the taxes of a particular group in society. In this case we are talking about lowering the tax load of technicians and mechanics. Under those circumstances the government really does not seem that keen to act at all. Sad as it is, that is the situation.

I normally would quote from some of the people who have written to me on this issue, but I want to leave some time to explain what has happened with this piece of legislation in the House to date. It is worth pointing out.

I first brought the bill forward in 1997. A couple of weeks ago I found out that in 1992 a Liberal member when in opposition brought forth a similar bill except that it had no specifics attached to it. It was a general statement indicating that mechanics or technicians should be allowed to deduct the cost of purchasing tools. It had been put before the House in 1992. I introduced it and debated it in the House in 1997. I debated it when the Bloc MP had his name drawn and his bill was chosen. Only the dollar value was changed somewhat in his piece of legislation.

He indicated that tools which cost $225 or less should be fully written off in the particular year for tax purposes and tools above $225 should be claimed through capital cost allowance. The figures were changed slightly, but that bill was debated a couple of months before the last election and passed by the House. This shows there is support for the legislation in the House. I do not think we should have to argue the point anymore.

Here we are again with the bill before the House. This time it is Bill C-244. The figures I have used in the bill are the same ones I used when I first introduced and debated the bill in 1997. Tools under $200 could be fully claimed in that year and tools valued at $200 or more could be claimed through capital cost allowance. Insurance and so on could be claimed as business expenses. That is completely consistent with what happens with farmers and other small businesses. My bill is completely consistent with the Income Tax Act.

I have chosen this bill on two occasions when my name has been drawn. I do not understand why it has not been made votable. Yet when the Bloc member introduced substantially the same bill, in fact it was identical except the number was slightly changed, it was made votable on two occasions. I cannot understand that.

Now is the time to deal with the piece of legislation. I know my time is up, but I should like to close my presentation by asking for unanimous consent of the House to refer the bill to the finance committee.

Then we could deal with the issue in committee. It would not be held up any longer. Finally we could end the government's balking on the issue. We could have it put before the committee to amend it or draft its own legislation so that it could be carried forward on behalf of technicians and mechanics across the country, and indeed on behalf of all of us who depend upon them to keep us going, whether it is by air, by car or by rail.

We should act on it quickly so that they will be treated fairly under the tax laws. I ask for unanimous consent for Bill C-244 to be referred to committee so that there will be no more hesitation on this issue.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 7th, 2001 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-244, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of mechanics' tool expenses).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill again, a bill that I introduced about four years ago. It has been debated in the House and has been brought forth by other members since then.

The bill would allow mechanics to deduct the cost of their tools, the insurance costs on their tools, the rental costs and so on. It would also allow them to claim a capital cost allowance on the cost of tools above $200 when a requirement of their employment is that they pay for their own tools. This is something that is supported by all parties to some degree and is certainly supported by all mechanics.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)