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

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Bryan May  Liberal

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

Status

Dead, as of Nov. 29, 2017
(This bill did not become law.)

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.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:40 p.m.
See context

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-240, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to provide a tax credit for first aid courses. This bill proposes to introduce a non-refundable tax credit of up to $200 for all first aid courses, cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, and automated external defibrillator training.

The member for Cambridge introduced this bill with the intention of providing a financial incentive to encourage more Canadians to receive first aid and other emergency health and safety training courses. If adopted, all taxpayers and their eligible children would become eligible for this credit. I want to congratulate him on this initiative and tell him that the New Democrats will be proudly supporting this at second reading.

First aid, CPR, and AED are skills that can be used by everyday citizens in emergency situations to stabilize health conditions until first responders arrive. An Ipsos Reid poll commissioned in 2012 revealed that nearly 40% of Canadians say they have provided first aid in their lifetime. The majority of first aid is provided, importantly, to a family member.

As well, while nearly 80% of Canadians believe first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians have been certified. According to the Red Cross, Canadians with first aid training and certification are considerably more confident in their skills to be able to help someone experiencing a medical emergency. It saves lives.

Here are a few relevant facts about first aid in Canada. The Red Cross estimates it trains approximately 600,000 Canadians every year in first aid, CPR, and/or AED. While nearly 80% of Canadians believe first aid is a very important skill to have, only 18% of Canadians were certified. An Ipsos Reid poll commissioned in 2012 revealed that 40% of Canadians have provided that important skill to their family members. First aid saves lives, and efforts to promote this training should be encouraged.

New Democrats support the objective of this bill and look forward to engaging in a deeper study at the committee stage. As a party, New Democrats believe fundamentally that the lens of equity and social justice should be applied to all legislation that passes through the House. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that New Democrats are always concerned by the proliferation of non-refundable tax credits that have been added to the Income Tax Act in recent years.

Many expert observers argue that these kinds of tax credits primarily benefit middle- and upper-income households. To quote a 2013 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:

These credits...make the tax system less transparent and...once they are put in place there is little...accountability of the amount of money spent on them or their effectiveness.

...a large number of current deductions and credits disproportionately benefit high earners....

The question of accessibility cannot be forgotten in the larger discussion around the promotion of first aid training. When assessing this bill, members should ask themselves who benefits and who could be left out. Certainly, this bill can achieve the desired effect of promoting first aid training among a number of families. However, the same must be focused on low-income Canadians and those on social assistance.

There are Canadians for whom the cost of first aid training presents a barrier. These are the Canadians who might not have enough income to benefit from a non-refundable tax credit, and like the rest of us, these Canadians would also greatly benefit from first aid training. It is, therefore, my hope that this bill progresses to the committee stage and that the committee is given the opportunity to take a closer look at the issues of accessibility in this bill, in the hopes of broadening its reach.

On a similar note, New Democrats believe all bills involving tax credits should be properly costed before being adopted by Parliament. In my research on this bill, I asked the Library of Parliament to draw up a rough estimate of the annual cost of Bill C-240. Accounting for multiple variables, the analysts have estimated a cost at between $30 million and $60 million per year. While relatively small in the grand scheme of a $300-billion budget, it is not insignificant, particularly when we consider the number of proposals for tax credits that have been introduced in Parliament and the others that are already on the books.

Finally, this initiative may also have the unintended consequence of subsidizing the corporate sector by inadvertently encouraging employers to abandon their existing first aid training programs. We would have to keep a close eye on that.

These are some of the issues that New Democrats believe require consideration at committee stage, and I look forward to having the opportunity to participate in that analysis.

As I have stated before, Mr. Speaker, this bill has the laudable goal of promoting life-saving first aid training among Canadians, and it spurs a conversation about how best to improve first aid training in our communities.

While reading Bill C-240, I was reminded of the local heroes in Vancouver and across Canada who either teach or use first aid, CPR, and automated external defibrillation to save lives every day. My thoughts go to those remarkable first responders in Vancouver who have worked admirably throughout the years, and today, often in very challenging situations, to make our communities safer for everyone.

I have often had the great pleasure to meet with firefighters in Vancouver, from IAFF Local 18, people like Rob Weeks, Lee Lax, Dustin Bourdeaudhuy, and Chris Coleman. These are hard-working local heroes who, with their workmates, often on the front lines of traumatic and tragic events, provide life-saving skills every day. In their jobs they save lives, livelihoods, homes, and more. In my meetings, I hear the pride they have to serve the public and to perform their jobs with honour and professionalism. These men and their colleagues truly make Vancouver a safer community for everyone. On behalf of the residents of Vancouver Kingsway, I want to thank them here in this House for their work.

I have also listened to the legitimate requests these local heroes have made to improve their occupational health and safety, and their quality of life. I have heard their requests for a firefighter compensation fund, funding for increased staffing in fire halls, and better PTSD services for working firefighters. We need to act on these justified and necessary requests, and do so soon.

My thoughts also go to first responders such as Tom Stamatakis, from the Vancouver Police Union, and the men and women who serve us in the police forces across this country. I have heard of the valiant work of policemen and policewomen who patrol the streets and are often the first people to answer emergency calls. In cities sometimes blighted by organized criminal activity, the policemen and policewomen are on the front lines every day to make our cities and towns safe and secure places to live. They save lives every day as well. I want to thank them in this House for their work.

In my capacity as health critic, I have also had the great pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Paramedic Association of Canada. Paramedics save lives every day in emergency situations, using first aid skills, and a variety of other specialized medical training. We need to thank them and support them in their work.

My thoughts also go to the countless organizations in Canada that provide first aid training in schools, community centres, and offices, to better equip the public for emergencies. Many see first aid as a form of community care, a form of empowerment for people in our communities to take care of themselves and save lives.

As many know, Vancouver is blessed with its location between the mountains and the ocean. Despite the wonderful geographic features that make Vancouver so unique around the world, we also live with many of the associated risks. Vancouverites are active boaters, swimmers, hikers, and skiers. These exciting sports are part of the attraction of the west coast lifestyle, but they also raise the risk of accidents and emergencies. Widespread first aid training is vital to creating a safer environment for Vancouverites, British Columbians, and indeed all Canadians, to get out and play in our beautiful environment and our country. Therefore, thousands of Vancouverites, and millions of Canadians, count on incredible non-profit Canadian agencies, such as the Lifesaving Society, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol, Canadian Red Cross, and Heart and Stroke Foundation to provide life-saving first aid training.

Vancouver is a city that sits on a seismologically active fault line. Frequent minor earthquakes in the region are a reminder of the power of the earth beneath the feet of Vancouverites and British Columbians. For years, geological scientists have predicted the possibility of a large seismic event in the Pacific northwest. The “big one”, as it is commonly referred to, could strike here, at any time. We had recently a magnitude 4.1 earthquake on the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Earthquake preparedness is part of the way of life for Vancouverites. We need to make sure our first aid training, our seismic upgrading, and our preparation for our population, particularly on the west coast, is given a high priority by the Liberal government.

To conclude, I want to reiterate that the New Democratic Party's support for Bill C-240 is strong. We believe more needs to be done to promote first aid training among Canadians to make our communities safer. We look forward to a vibrant debate at committee stage and beyond as we work to improve and implement the provisions of this important bill.

Once again, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing this important issue to the attention of the House.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid). I thank my colleague from Cambridge for bringing this important issue to the House.

I was excited to see my colleague opposite offering Canadians a tax credit rather than increasing their taxes. I hope it is the first of many.

This bill, as we all know, proposes amending 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. The proposed tax credit will be similar to the federal student tuition taxation credit for everyone who takes life-saving first aid, CPR or automated external defibrillator, AED, training.

This bill could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Tax credits like the one proposed in this bill will encourage Canadians to get trained and certified in CPR, first aid, and AED use. During an emergency, having someone on site who is trained in first aid and CPR could make the difference as we all know.

In fact, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are 40,000 cardiac arrest incidents in Canada each year. That is one every thirteen minutes, and 85% of those incidents will take place outside of hospitals. After 12 minutes, the survival rate is just 5%. After four minutes, significant brain damage can occur. During an emergency situation, CPR plus an AED double the chance of survival.

These are our neighbours, our friends, and family. The importance of CPR, first aid, and AED training is clear just by looking at the number of people who spend their hard-earned money to be trained, groups like Scouts and Girl Guides, youth groups, babysitters, camp counsellors, first responders, just to name a few. That includes, of course, both adults and children.

St. John Ambulance alone, certifies more than 550,000 Canadians a year, with more than 100 locations across Canada, including a location in Lindsay in my riding.

The proposed bill will have a direct impact on Canadians who may be considering training, but are worried about the cost. However, for most people looking to take these types of courses, it really is not about the prices. It is about helping our fellow Canadians. Therefore, why not give them thanks from the Government of Canada, after all they are spending their own money.

Canadians coast to coast will see the direct benefits of this proposed change. This is not a new issue of importance for Canadians or for the government. It was our government that initiated the national AED program, which saw $10 million funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, to install AEDs in rinks, arenas, and recreation centres all across Canada.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, this initiative, recently concluded, was responsible for the installation of 3,234 AEDs and the training of 25,360 Canadians on how to respond to cardiac arrest situation.

In my riding this program allowed for 23 AEDs to be installed in public access areas like the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden, the A.J. LaRue Arena in Haliburton, and the Lindsay Recreation Complex.

This program has already been responsible for saving 10 lives across Canada.

I believe this bill represents a continuation of a number of tax credits initially started by our previous government, including the children's fitness and arts tax credits, both of which are now sadly gone, and the volunteer firefighters tax credit. The volunteer firefighters tax credit had the same effect I think this bill will have. It encouraged Canadians to be trained and to help each other. It allowed for Canadians to help themselves. Again, it is not about the cost, it is about helping our fellow citizens.

As such, we should let the measure we are discussing now, and the previously mentioned measures, act as a way of giving back to Canadians for trying to help and do the right thing. In many small communities, like those in my riding, many firefighting departments are completely run by volunteers. These Canadians sacrifice their time and safety, even time with family, to help protect others.

Increasing the number of Canadians who have the financial ability to be trained in CPR, first aid, and AED use will help Canadians coast to coast to coast, especially in remote and rural areas where medical assistance is not always around the corner.

A 2012 Ipsos Reid poll showed that 38% of Canadians said that they had provided first aid, and 78% believed it was important to know how to perform first aid. While the information is a few years old, it is still very relevant for the discussion on this bill. The results showed that two in three Canadians had taken a first aid course, with only 18% having taken it within three years of the poll, and 49% having taken it more than three years before that poll.

Canadians who have taken a first aid course are significantly more competent in their skills to help someone in a medical emergency.

The results of this poll help paint a very big picture. It paints a picture of the importance of first aid, CPR, and AED training. Similar information has been found by our neighbours south of the border. According to the American Heart Association, each year more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.

CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival. Seventy per cent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. Unfortunately, only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help they need before professional help arrives.

Our Conservative Party highly values life and life-saving capabilities, and I support incentives and rewards to help save lives. If more medically trained personnel exist, financial burdens to emergency services may be reduced, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity.

While there is much to praise about the proposed bill, I look forward to seeing what the potential cost of these measures will be. We need to ensure that proper balance of tax credits and fiscal responsibility are there.

Canadians are kind and generous people, as we all know. I believe the bill would give Canadians an increased opportunity to be certified in first aid, CPR, and AED use, which of course, as I think we all agree in the House, is a benefit to all.

I would like to thank the Canadian Red Cross, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, St. John Ambulance, and all the organizations that have promoted, trained, and certified Canadians in first aid, CPR, and AED use. I would also like to thank the volunteers, because we cannot forget the volunteers who work so hard in our communities to make them safer.

People should remember that during CPR, we should push on the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, or to the beat of the Bee Gees song, Stayin' Alive.

I encourage all members to support the bill and to encourage all Canadians to get trained in first aid, CPR, and AED use. It could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2016 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

moved that Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to rise in the House 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 first aid courses.

I recognize well that my role is often to advocate for and represent my riding of Cambridge in North Dumfries. This is a role that I am honoured and humbled to fulfill, and I thank the people of my riding for placing their trust in me.

Private members' bills provide a unique and valuable opportunity to represent all Canadians. That is something that was foremost in my mind when I was designing my bill. I wanted to ensure that Canadian values and interests were inherent and that my bill would create a benefit that all Canadians could access equally.

With my PMB I wanted to achieve a few broad goals. We need to start a national conversation in this country about emergency preparedness and getting ready for the demographic shifts 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 ready for more medical emergencies, more cardiac arrests, more strokes, and more falls.

The need for basic medical emergency preparedness in Canada is still growing, and this need has never been greater. In Canada, there is a heart attack every 12 minutes. People experiencing cardiac arrest have their chance of survival increased exponentially if there is a first responder or similarly trained individual present. Unfortunately, in many cases of cardiac arrest, no one with this lifesaving knowledge is nearby.

Right now more than half of adult Canadians live in a household in which no members have an up-to-date first aid or CPR certification. This reality is as dangerous as it is unacceptable, particularly when the training is readily available. These Canadian households are not prepared for emergencies. They are at risk, and it is our moral duty to do whatever we can to help our citizens be better prepared.

This legislation would fill a void in our current legislative framework and our broader society. Training to prepare people for medical emergencies is there, and we know it works. The only limitation is how many people in Canada have the training and the confidence to take action. This legislation is a measured response to the need for an incentive to encourage more Canadians to get trained.

The bill is designed to provide a modest change, innovate within a sector, and improve lives in a measured and specific way.

The legislation has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of many Canadians without making a lasting impact on their wallets. It is designed to appeal broadly to those members of the House who consider themselves fiscally responsible, as the costs are reasonable. At the same time, the bill's appeal is obvious to those members who seek an avenue for bettering people's lives and making our communities stronger, safer, and healthier.

I hope that my attempts to create this legislation, however humble, will save lives and achieve far grander benefits than might otherwise be apparent.

When people undertake first aid certification, what they are ultimately doing is gaining the skills and knowledge to serve their community at a personal cost. Perhaps even more important than the skills they are learning is the confidence they are gaining in an emergency situation where literally every second counts. The confidence gained through these courses can be the difference between life and death. Undertaking first aid training and administering first aid are fundamentally selfless acts that benefit not only the individual citizen but our communities as a whole. The House has the opportunity to recognize, incentivize, and facilitate these selfless acts by reducing the costs incurred by these civic-minded individuals. That is something that all members should laud, appreciate, and promote.

With this private member's bill, I propose that 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 at 15%. This tax credit would come at a relatively low cost to the government but would make a difference in the affordability of lifesaving training for individual Canadians.

According to Ipsos Reid, only 18% of Canadians have an up-to-date certification, meaning they have passed a course in the last three years. That means approximately 1.8 million Canadians will take this lifesaving training this year. At $15 per person, the bill would cost the government a maximum of $26.5 million this year. Compared to the value of the lives being saved, this is miniscule.

Of course, not all course participants will be eligible for the tax credit, nor will they all owe taxes. More than half of certified Canadians have their training financed by their workplace. When these facts are considered, we can see that the cost to the government would actually be much lower, likely less than $13 million.

As I have said, a great many Canadians are trained in lifesaving first aid, CPR, and AED techniques through the generosity of their employers. This generosity is to be commended. These employers recognize the value of having certified employees in their workplace. However, employers who pay for their employees' training are not eligible for the tax credit, because they already receive tax incentives when they claim it as a business expense. Similarly, the employee cannot claim the cost of a course that their employer has paid for.

For many Canadians, however, this type of training is not available at their workplace. Many of these people are still interested in the training and frankly, society would be greatly benefited from their having this training.

First aid training is lifesaving. My hope is that by making first aid courses more financially accessible, Canada will have more citizens with these lifesavings skills. Having more people with first aid training increases the likelihood of trained individuals being at hand during an emergency.

One-third of Canadians have never taken a first aid, CPR, or AED training course. This is a huge lifesaving resource that we are not accessing as a culture, but we should be. Helping Canadians gain the skill to treat medical emergencies out of hospital also has the potential to result in cost savings to the health care system by giving individuals the skills to better respond to minor situations, such as cuts and scrapes, and the knowledge and confidence to help minimize the damage sustained in the case of more substantive injuries.

For someone who breaks a bone, for example, knowing how to place a splint could have a major impact on their recovery time and the cost associated with it. For someone having a seizure, a passerby with the knowledge of rescue treatments, how to give care, comfort, and first aid, and when to call for emergency help can prevent injuries and keep many Canadians safe.

It is my hope that Canadians will take advantage of this modest tax credit to gain the skills that might allow them to save lives, prevent injuries, and help keep their neighbours and families safe.

I know that I am not the only member of Parliament for whom safeguarding the well-being of Canadians is of the utmost priority. The member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston has made it his personal mission over the past number of years to increase the number of automatic external defibrillators in his riding and has campaigned for greater access to these devices all across Canada.

An AED is a small portable device used to deliver a shock to correct abnormal beating of the heart. These AEDs, when kept in public spaces, are an incredible asset to the safety of those around them. Every police cruiser in Ottawa has one of these devices, and it has directly resulted in around 10 lives saved every single year.

Every workplace under federal jurisdiction is required to have first aid kits for this same reason, but we need to ensure that their are hands capable of wielding these tools so that they can be effective at saving lives.

Before working in the House, I was an employee at the YMCA for many years. I remember, as the director of the YMCA about 10 years ago, my boss came to me and said that he wanted me to become a lifeguard. My first response was why. At 30 years old, why was this something that was important?

I am very glad for the opportunity to do that, although it was incredibly humbling, at 30 years old, to be taking lifesaving training with a number of 16-year-olds. However, I can say that this first aid training has made me confident that in the face of any emergency I would be able to safeguard the lives and well-being of my neighbours, my family, and my colleagues.

It is my hope to spread that kind of knowledge and confidence within Canada. I have been asking for support for the bill for the past few months. In fact, I have been nagging people to a certain extent and sending them video emails and those sorts of things. I have risen today in the House to debate it and ask for the support of all members.

I ask for this support for the sake of the well-being of our communities. The House has the opportunity to safeguard the lives of Canadians and display our commitment to emergency preparedness. I am confident that the members of the House will appreciate the impact of the legislation on the lives and safety of ordinary families. My hope is that my bill passes second reading and goes to committee, where I am open to any recommendations to make the bill better.

I thank members for their support on this issue, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts and answering any questions from the House.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

February 25th, 2016 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bryan May Liberal Cambridge, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit — first aid).

Mr. Speaker, today I am excited to rise in this House to introduce my private member's bill, a bill that would save lives and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Students across this country benefit from a federal tuition tax credit, helping to make post-secondary education more affordable. The bill proposes a similar, non-refundable tax credit for anyone who takes life-saving first aid, CPR, or AED training.

Canadians with skills and knowledge in first aid and CPR are able to help others in emergency medical situations. The value of a life saved or injury prevented, and the knowledge of what to do in an emergency is a skill that we should all have.

The rate of survival for those suffering from cardiac arrest is increased by 50% to 500% if a bystander has CPR training. With the bill we can show that Parliament recognizes the life-saving power of first aid and CPR and show Canadians that we value that training.

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