An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid)

Sponsor

Bryan May  Liberal

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

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 26, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-240.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit to individuals who complete a first aid or other health and safety instructional program or course.

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.

Votes

Nov. 29, 2017 Passed 13th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance
Nov. 29, 2017 Failed 13th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance (amendment)
Oct. 26, 2016 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 22nd, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from across the floor for caring about Canadians and encouraging first aid. I put a motion forward about a year ago on behalf of a grade 11 student from my riding, from Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook, looking to have first aid become part of the grade 11 curriculum in all schools across Canada as one of the ways of dealing with first aid. Education being provincial of course, I just left it as a motion.

However, I would like to read this concerning Bill C-240. In accordance with its order of reference on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, the Standing Committee on Finance considered BillC-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), and agreed on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 to report the following:

Whereas the Committee is generally supportive of the intent of Bill C-240 and feels that efforts to encourage individuals to complete first aid courses should be commended there are questions that arise about which Canadians would receive the benefit of the measures, as the tax credit is non-refundable and this can only be claimed if you have income; the cost to federal, provincial and territorial governments to administer the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act; the extent to which federal, provincial and territorial tax revenues would be affected by the proposed measure; the extent to which this type of measure should be designed only following extensive consultation with tax experts, first aid providers as well as federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments; whether these measures would realize the proposed aim of increasing first aid training participation when 67% of Canadians have already taken a first aid course (Red Cross, Ipsos Reid, 2012); the fact that existing policies mandate knowledge of first aid in the workforce, and all provinces and territories have legislated workplace requirements for employee training in first aid;

Therefore...this Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid).

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 22nd, 2017 / 7:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ron Liepert Conservative Calgary Signal Hill, AB

Yes, sunny ways.

I looked up the meaning of the word “coward”. It says it is the lack of courage to do unpleasant things. The PMO did not have the courage to tell the member for Cambridge that we are not going to support his bill. Despite all of the support of government members, it did not have the courage. The PMO is a coward by not telling him to his face. It made that member go to committee, waste everybody's time, and then handed the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge this piece of paper. The member for Vaughan—Woodbridge dutifully did his job by reading the motion, and here we have it before us tonight.

Because the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge, on behalf of the PMO, would like a number of these questions answered, and so do we, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after “that” and substituting the following:

That the 13th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance (recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid)), presented to the House on Thursday, February 23, 2017, be not now concurred in but that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Finance with the instruction to hear from further witnesses on the Bill.

I would encourage all members on that side of the House to support the amendment.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 22nd, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to rise and speak to my private member's bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act to provide a non-refundable tax credit for those who take a first aid course, Bill C-240. The bill has been returned from the finance committee to the House with the recommendation that it proceed no further.

I am thankful for the review by and insight of the finance committee of Bill C-240. The expertise the witnesses provided helps to clarify what the bill means. There is a growing need for basic preparedness in Canada. In Canada, there is a heart attack every 12 minutes, but people have a dramatically better chance of survival if a trained bystander is present. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, no one with this lifesaving knowledge is nearby. Right now, more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no one has up-to-date first aid or CPR certification. It is this issue that motivated my tabling of Bill C-240.

When someone undertakes first aid training, what they are ultimately doing is gaining skills and knowledge to serve their community. Perhaps even more important than the skills they are learning is the confidence they are gaining. In a situation where every second counts, that confidence can be the difference between life and death.

I am pleased that Bill C-240 was well received. I had letters of support from diverse groups, far too many to list here, but they include organizations as diverse as Heart and Stroke Canada and the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs. I am glad that so many came together to discuss this issue to create awareness and to improve emergency preparedness and public safety for all Canadians.

I have also had conversations with individual supporters, including local organizations that provide this key training, like the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance, which are always working to reduce barriers to getting first aid training in the hands of all Canadians.

I want to recognize that Bill C-240, like all private members' bills, has limitations. The major concern raised by the finance committee was this: Does Bill C-240 achieve its objectives inexpensively compared to the alternatives? This question is essentially the cost of forgone revenue versus the advantages of having additional people with first aid training. It is about the efficiency of the lost revenue.

The discussion at the finance committee presented evidence that there may be more efficient ways of accomplishing Bill C-240's goals. There may be additional options to explore for public safety education and for the health minister's involvement in encouraging more Canadians to seek out this training.

I have been clear about my goal from the very beginning. It is to make people in this country safer by better preparing Canadians to take action in emergencies. I believe that strong work is happening in this area and a promising dialogue on what we can do for emergency preparedness.

I am pleased with the conversations I have had with each of my colleagues, the finance minister, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Public Safety, and I am confident that these conversations will continue after my advocacy in the House.

I am aware of how strong an incentive it takes to create a widespread behavioural change and of the inherent limits of a relatively small tax credit. The NDP members, in particular, spoke to another limitation of the bill in their remarks at second reading and it is worth noting here. Because of the limitations on private members' bills that prevent them from calling for direct expenditures, there is an equity issue with a non-refundable tax credit. For those Canadians whose income may be low enough, they do not pay income tax and would not be eligible for a tax credit under Bill C-240. I regret that private members' business cannot address this issue. There are options available outside the PMB process for good ideas like Bill C-240, and I would be pleased to work with this government to pursue avenues for change.

I have acknowledged these limitations, both of Bill C-240, and in fact, of all private members' bills. Given that understanding, I have continued to advocate for other ways in which to improve the adoption of first aid training for Canadians.

The purpose of this PMB for me is about protecting more Canadians, not about the specifics of the bill. That is why I am happy to be working with the ministers involved with this portfolio in introducing innovative ways to move forward.

The PMB was drafted in the early days of Parliament, around two years ago. I was getting my office set up, hiring staff, and we were already putting together the pieces of Bill C-240. One of the things I realized at that time was that no particular department actually owns the topic of first aid exclusively. It is a topic that stretches across emergency preparedness, health, finance, and public service and labour. I would argue, in fact, that no ministry is completely untouched by the need for first aid training.

I want to talk about the things the government is doing in response to my advocacy on this issue. The number of votes in the House from all sides really helped to paint a picture of how important this issue is to Canadians. I have had substantive conversations with the public safety minister about the need for first aid to play a bigger role in Canadians' understanding of emergency preparedness. I am proud to say that changes are being made with a number of different projects to help promote first aid in response to Bill C-240 and my advocacy on this issue.

Everyone in the House, and many Canadians, are familiar with the get prepared campaign and its approach to emergency preparedness. Public safety, currently, has a get prepared campaign that consists of three parts: know the risks, make a plan, and get a kit.

I am pleased to say that a fourth element to this campaign will be added with the focus on getting Canadians first aid training. I will be working with the ministry on building resources like videos and information to help support this fourth area of focus. This represents a significant update to the get prepared campaign that helps drive home the point that preparations must be taken early and proactively, including first aid training.

I am also pleased to be working with the ministers involved with this topic on public safety week, which brings awareness to public safety in Canada. I will keep working on these projects, and others, to ensure Canadians are better protected and better prepared.

I have been asking for support for increased awareness around first aid training for the last two years, and today, I ask for support to continue the research and the conversation.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues, and all of the stakeholders across the country for their support on Bill C-240. The House has the opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians, and I am proud of the actions our government is taking to more directly address this issue. I want to thank all members who supported me in bringing this bill to the forefront.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

November 22nd, 2017 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(2), the motion to concur in the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), presented on Thursday, February 23, 2017, is deemed moved.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 23rd, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid). The committee has studied the bill and recommends that the House of Commons not proceed further with this bill.

February 22nd, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I also want to express my disappointment with this motion that has been brought before us. As you can clearly see, it is long, drafted in both official languages, and very well written. So it was not written on the edge of the table while we debated the merits of the bill and its drafting.

It is very disappointing that we have been forced to waste two hours of our time and that of the people who have travelled here and who no doubt studied the matter for hours before coming to testify before our committee. All of them made the effort to inform us as best they could. In the end, we are unfortunately faced with this motion asking us to bring our business to a complete halt and recommend to the House that we not proceed further with our consideration of Bill C-240.

I think we could have made a diligent effort during the clause-by-clause consideration in light of what we have heard today. I am extremely disappointed with the attitude of the member who introduced this motion. I think that, as legislators, we could have made a real effort with the clause-by-close consideration. Each of us could have put things on the table and tried to do the job we are called upon to do, which is to prepare the best possible legislative proposals. That is definitely not what we are seeing on the other side of this table.

February 22nd, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

It reads:

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of October 26, 2016, the Committee has considered Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid). Whereas the Committee is generally supportive of the intent of Bill C-240 and feels that efforts to encourage individuals to complete first aid courses should be commended there are questions that arise about which Canadians would receive the benefit of the measures, as the tax credit is non-refundable and this can only be claimed if you have income; the cost to federal, provincial and territorial governments to administer the proposed changes to the Income Tax Act; the extent to which federal, provincial and territorial tax revenues would be affected by the proposed measure; the extent to which this type of measure should be designed only following extensive consultation with tax experts, first aid providers as well as federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments; whether these measures would realize the proposed aim of increasing first aid training participation when 67% of Canadians have already taken a first aid course (Red Cross, Ipsos Reid, 2012); the fact that existing policies mandate knowledge of first aid in the workforce, and all provinces and territories have legislated workplace requirements for employee training in first aid; Therefore, in light of the above noted details of the proposal in Bill C-240, be it resolved that this Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit—first aid).

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

February 22nd, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan—Woodbridge, ON

Yes, it is. It's related to Bill C-240.

February 22nd, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Thank you.

Thank you to the officials from the Department of Finance for appearing and answering questions on Mr. May's Bill C-240.

With that, we will turn to clause-by-clause consideration. I would just say to the committee that we have clause by clause and we have two motions by Mr. Albas, and then drafting instructions in camera for the analysts.

Go ahead, Mr. Sorbara.

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Do you think Bill C-240 can be considered as providing for an efficient and fair tax expenditure based on the criteria you submitted to the committee?

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Suppose Bill C-240 is adopted by the House and Senate, that it receives royal assent, and that all that takes place before you have completed the tax expenditure review. Do you think this additional tax expenditure would survive the review you are conducting, considering its efficiency and fairness?

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm usually on that side of the table, in your seat, sir, and I assure you that it is significantly more intimidating in this seat.

I want to thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the finance committee. I really appreciate the welcome here today and the ability to speak to Bill C-240.

This bill was drafted more than a year ago, and it's amazing to finally be here to speak to it. I'm looking forward to answering your questions today, and to hearing from you and hearing about what you've also heard from stakeholders about Bill C-240.

I know I must sound like a broken record by now, emailing you and your offices with videos about the bill and encouraging your support in the House. It's an easily explainable bill, and it's an easy concept to explain: Canada needs more people trained in first aid.

That's why I think there has been so much support for this bill. Bill C-240 was supported in the House by members of all parties. It passed second reading by a vote of 227 to 81. Thank you to everyone in this room who supported it, and to all the members who saw the value of Bill C-240 and have been advocates from the very beginning.

I recognize well that my role is often to advocate for and represent my riding of Cambridge and North Dumfries. However, private members' bills provide a unique and valuable opportunity to represent all Canadians on a national stage. They represent perhaps the best efforts of individual members to address an area of concern across this country.

That's something that was foremost in my mind when I was designing Bill C-240. I wanted to ensure that Canadian values and interests were represented in the bill and that it would create a benefit that all Canadians could access equally.

This bill is easy to explain and was easy to conceive of because it's about something that's always present in Canadian lives: the possibility for an emergency situation to occur.

If someone cut their hand on a glass here in committee today, how many of you in this room would know how to respond? What first aid would you apply? Where is the nearest emergency kit located from this space? Every workplace has similar challenges, and most in fact have more serious emergencies than are possible here on the Hill. Factories, construction sites, and dangerous work environments are full of possible emergency situations, and we have millions of Canadians employed in these workplaces each and every day.

Of course, emergencies are not limited to a workplace. A weekend with your kids, an evening out with your colleagues, or a visit to a friend can easily become a dangerous situation calling for capable hands.

It's because of this and the approaching demographic shifts that we need to start a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness and getting ready for the demographic changes that we know are approaching. The need for emergency preparedness has always been present in our society; however, with an aging population, Canadians need to be more ready for medical emergencies, more cardiac arrests and strokes, and more falls.

I want you to consider two staggering statistics that I think will illuminate the risk. One-third of Canadians have never taken first aid in their lives, and right now more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have up-to-date first aid or CPR certification.

The bill has the potential of making a lasting impact on those statistics, but it's not just about statistics. It's about people helped, injuries repaired, and lives saved. It's about families avoiding tragedy.

When someone undertakes first aid certification, what they're ultimately doing is gaining the skills and knowledge to serve their community, at a personal cost. This is a civic duty that many Canadians undertake, and it represents a public good. Increased education and training is something good governments want for their citizens and offer different incentives and support for.

Bill C-240 is applying that principle. It provides an incentive for individuals to acquire training that represents a public good. Unlike education, first aid training often doesn't directly benefit the person who got the training. It most benefits strangers—passersby and the people we encounter in our lives only briefly. There are thousands of stories of train passengers, bystanders, and shopkeepers leaping into action to save people they've never met. This is not only a public good; it's a Canadian good.

Mr. Chair, I'd like to cover some of the more specific details about Bill C-240. Our government should provide a tax credit to those who take an accredited first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This tax credit would be non-refundable and provide a deduction in the amount owing equal to the lowest federal income tax rate, currently set at 15%.

Bill C-240 is a measured response. It's designed to appeal broadly to those members of this House who consider themselves fiscally responsible, as its costs are reasonable. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government, but would make a difference to the affordability of life-saving training for individual Canadians.

I'd like to explain briefly how I determined the cost estimate for this bill. According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of Canadians have an up-to-date certification, meaning they have passed a first aid course in the last three years. That means approximately 1.8 million Canadians have taken this kind of training this year. The average cost for these courses is around $100. Bill C-240 would provide for a tax credit of $15 per person. At the average cost, that means the cost in lost revenue is approximately $29.3 million per year.

However, compare that to the value of a life saved, reduced trips to the hospital, pain and suffering reduced. Compare that to faster recovery times, which keep Canadians on the job instead of at home recovering.

The $29.3 million estimate is wildly inflated because not all participants in these training courses will be eligible for the tax credit, nor will they owe taxes, and more than half of certified Canadians have their training financed by their workplace and therefore would not qualify for this tax credit. When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government will be much lower, likely significantly less than $14 million.

I hope that you've had a chance to review all the details of Bill C-240.

I know that my time is limited here today, but I want to leave you with one final thought. When it comes to first aid, the confidence instilled with training is just as important as the knowledge. Training leads to confidence, and confidence leads to action in emergencies, and action leads to lives saved.

Protecting Canadians is something we can all support. In addition to answering your questions here today, I ask for your support for the sake of the well-being of all our communities.

I want to give a bit of background on why I brought this bill forward. I came by this honestly. I've taken this course, or courses like this, more times than I would like to admit. I worked most of my career with non-profits like the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, which are some of the largest providers of this course.

When I was 30 years old, I was asked by my supervisor at the time to get my NLS certification and become a lifeguard. My first response was “Why?” Looking back, that allowed me to grow in my role. About a year after that, I became a general manager of one of the facilities and ended up going to another facility, running that facility, and building a new YMCA. The confidence that this training gives—I can speak first-hand—provides an ability to walk into so many different situations and recognize when things are safe and when they're not. It's incredibly simple training; it's incredibly valuable, and 18% is simply not good enough.

Right now, if the average Canadian were to require first aid because of a heart attack or a stroke, they'd have about a 4% chance that somebody within arm's reach would be able to help them. That's not good enough. We should not be okay with that, and we have an opportunity with Bill C-240 to send a message that this government considers that this type of training is important and that it needs to move forward.

I know my time is coming to an end. I thank you for your support on this issue and look forward to answering any questions you might have.

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Then we have, pursuant to the order of reference from the House of Wednesday, October 26, 2016, Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid).

Mr. Bryan May, MP for Cambridge, is the sponsor of that bill. Mr. May, the floor is yours.

I understand you have about a 10-minute opening, and then we'll go to questions.

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I call the meeting to order.

Before we go to Mr. May and the private member's bill, Bill C-240, we have a couple of business issues that we have to deal with, and I think we'll come to business later again following a couple of motions, if we've time.

Pursuant to Standing Order 106(2), we need to elect a vice-chair for the NDP. Is there a motion?

February 15th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

With that, we'll have to end today's discussion.

Thank you very much, Ms. Treurnicht and Mr. Sabia. Thank you for your thoughtful answers to questions, the discussion you provoked, and the work you do on the advisory council. We really appreciate that as a Parliament and as a people.

I have just one bit of information for committee members before we adjourn. The deadline to submit amendments to Bill C-240, that's Brian May's bill, is 5 p.m. tomorrow.

With that, we will adjourn till next Wednesday.

The meeting is adjourned.