An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses deduction for tradespersons)

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.


Scott Duvall  NDP

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


Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of March 11, 2021
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment amends the Income Tax Act to allow tradespersons and indentured apprentices to deduct from their income any travel expenses that they have incurred in order to secure and maintain employment in a construction activity at a job site that is located at least 80 km away from their ordinary place of residence.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 23rd, 2022 / 6:25 p.m.
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Matthew Green NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I feel the need to begin my comments by recapitulating the words of the hon. member for Essex, who shared that he would happily call himself a New Democrat to get this PMB passed, if even just for a day.

I am glad it is in the Hansard. As I shared in my question to the hon. member for Essex, the New Democratic Party has been in the Hansard on this very bill five times since 2006. I am going to take a moment to recapitulate. The first was in 2006, Bill C-390, under the always hon. Chris Charlton, and then again in 2008 as Bill C-227, introduced by the hon. Chris Charlton, and in 2013, as Bill C-201, again by Chris Charlton. When Chris Charlton retired, she handed it over to a working class hero from Hamilton, the always hon. Scott Duvall, who introduced this same bill in 2021 as Bill C-275.

I have the honour, being from Hamilton, to continue the working class values of our city and our party by introducing Bill C-222. The hon. member for Essex was in fine form, using his newly found New Democratic talking points to sell this very bill in the House. I give the hon. member for Essex the benefit of the doubt, because the hon. member for Essex was not elected in 2013 when this bill was last introduced under Bill C-201, but when it was up for vote in second reading, it was the Conservative Party with a majority that crushed this bill.

We have had 15 years of work on this bill. We have had six years where the working class people of this country could have benefited from these types of tax considerations. The hon. member is quite right when he says he wants for working class people what we have in the House as MPs when it comes to writing off some of our travel expenses. I would go one step further, and I would suggest that all MPs in the House ought to carry the same spirit by wanting for others what we ourselves have in here when it comes to dental care and pharmacare and pensions.

Here we are. The challenge we have is that the newly found New Democrat, in his New Democratic talking points, showed the disconnect that he has with the building trades because the example he gave in his answer relating to the distance, using his county of Essex, suggesting that an hour and a half travel is about 120 kilometres, tells us that he has never spoken to skilled tradespeople in southern Ontario. If he had, he would know that people from Hamilton could sit in traffic for three hours just on their way to Toronto, which is 60 kilometres away.

He is quite right that skilled tradespeople have fought for this over decades. Let us be clear. He was right when he says this is a bipartisan and non-partisan issue. This is not a win for the Conservatives who found their new working class values under their previous leader. I will remind them, though, that their previous leader from Durham, in 2014, did vote against this, as did their interim leader, as did the hon. member for Carleton. All of them voted against this. Why now?

I would put to the House that it is because the Conservative Party uses working class issues and working class people in the same way that one would use a pair of old dirty sneakers. They only bring them out when it time to cut the grass, to pretend that the grass is green on the other side, when it is clear that this bill comes up short by lengthening that distance and excluding so many people from areas like my city and Hamilton Centre.

I am going to take my time, but I am going to give credit where credit is due, which is in the organized labour of the Ontario building trades council, of the Canada's Building Trades Unions, of the Hamilton-Brantford building trades council, the people I work with, people like Pat Dillon, who for his entire career worked on this, for 20 years, and in fact was successful under their previous leader to have this implemented into darn near all the platforms.

Following in the spirit of the New Democratic Party, we saw willingness from the government side to finally give lip service to this. Why it failed to act on it until now is beyond me, but in the spirit of moving things forward to improve the material conditions of working-class people in this country, I am happy we are here. Our Parliament works better when we work together for working-class people.

To Pat Dillon, and Pat's retirement, I suspect that many members from all parties showed up to honour Pat in that moment. Let today be his victory. Let future votes on this be his victory, when hopefully we get to a place where this bill covers all the aspects that it needs to cover. Let this be the victory of Mark Ellerker, from the Hamilton-Brantford Building Trades Council, who I have had the privilege of working with since my time as a city councillor. He has always fought with the building trades, not just for organized labour but for unorganized labour too, because the notion that what is good for the manager or the salesperson in tax considerations absolutely must be a tax fairness question that is applied to all working-class people, whether it is for their travel expenses or their tools, which was a very appropriate point brought up by members on the government side. I encourage the government's side to bring these types of real considerations for working-class people into their legislation, into their throne speeches and, most importantly, into their budget.

Lastly, I want to once again thank my good friend, Stuart McLellan, from IBEW Local 105. We would have long conversations about the ability for workers to travel where they do not have to do that calculus. The truth is that not all collective agreements have within them travel expenses. The ones that do not are limited by them. They have to go out of pocket.

Let us be clear about one thing. It is not MPs, it is not entrepreneurs, it is not CEOs or big developers who create value in this country. Value in this economy is only built by working-class people. It is taken by the ultrawealthy. In this respect, when we talk about those members who are being considered in this space, and they talk about how 120 kilometres might look like an hour and a half to them, those members should sit in traffic from Hamilton to Toronto, or from Montreal to anywhere, for that matter. They should know that travel time is not just a tax expense that can be written off. It is time away from family. It is a sacrifice that has to be made as a worker in order to put food on the table and to pay the rent.

Let us get this bill right for Pat. Let us get this bill right for Mark and Stuart, and for all of the incredible working-class people across this country who truly put value in this economy and are truly building this country.

With that, to my temporary and honorary member of the New Democratic Party, I congratulate him on his private member's bill and I am happy to stand and see that be reflected in the Hansard today.

May 20th, 2021 / 2:35 p.m.
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Sean Strickland Executive Director, Canada's Building Trades Unions

Thank you, Robert.

It's a real pleasure to be here today. Thanks very much, members, for the work you do on behalf of your constituents and all Canadians.

We appreciate the opportunity to engage on Bill C-30 and look forward to continued consultation on budget items such as the new apprenticeship service, the community workforce development program and the sectoral workforce solutions program as details get ironed out.

Bill C-30 includes important measures to alleviate some of the financial burden on apprentices as they move through their apprenticeship by absorbing interest accrued from the Canada apprentice loans program until March 2023. We applaud the government for this initiative. We also appreciate the budget's focus on green energy and workforce development, but we recognize there's an opportunity to expand on additional investments as we look beyond the pandemic and getting Canadians back to work.

In the construction sector, this means support for a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction, which is currently on the floor of the House of Commons as a private member's bill, Bill C-275. Unlike many careers, construction work is temporary, in that you build a project, complete the project and then move on to the next one. This can require workers to travel and temporarily relocate for work, with costs that can be too much for a worker and can disincentivize them from travelling to where the work is. This can create labour shortages in different regions, with high unemployment in others. A skilled trades mobility tax deduction would address this problem and transition workers away from utilizing programs like EI so that they instead contribute to the Canadian economy through tax revenues from their employment.

This past March, an independent financial projection commissioned by Canada's Building Trades Unions found that the Canada-wide implementation of a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction would save the treasury an estimated $347 million annually through increased tax revenues and reduced reliance on EI and other government programs. This private member's bill will not receive royal assent, but we encourage the government to adopt this measure. This is very important for helping to rebuild Canada's economy, and it is very important to members of the building trades.

There is a lot in the budget that will help to continue building Canada's skilled trades workforce. However, we need to ensure that funds that have been committed in budget 2021 and previously for infrastructure investment flow out the door, put shovels in the ground and get people back to work, and faster.

On behalf of the over half a million skilled trades professionals who belong to Canada's Building Trades Unions and our 14 affiliated international unions, I want to thank the committee for this opportunity to present. I look forward to any questions that you may have for me and Robert.

April 22nd, 2021 / 3:30 p.m.
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Sean Strickland Executive Director, Canada's Building Trades Unions

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure to be here this afternoon.

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee on reforms to the employment insurance system that reflect the needs of Canadian workers.

Sean Strickland is my name. I'm the executive director of Canada's Building Trades Unions. We represent 14 international construction trade unions, and we have over half a million members across Canada.

Reforming employment insurance has long been a high priority for Canada's Building Trades Unions, and the pandemic has put a light on cracks in the system, as you're very much aware. I want to thank the committee for the work you are doing.

We appreciate the government's measures to support Canadians through the pandemic—unprecedented times for sure. The recent extensions of benefits through the budget—the Canada recovery benefit, the Canada emergency wage subsidy and extending sick leave—will help workers through this unprecedented time. We're also encouraged by the announcement we heard from the Province of Ontario today in terms of paid sick days, and we are looking forward to the successful rollout of that program as well, as it will help our members deal with the pandemic.

The construction industry accounts for 6% of Canada's GDP, and the industry has been a key player in keeping the economy going during the pandemic. However, industry employment is down from pre-pandemic levels, with unemployment nationally at 8% and much higher in certain regions of the country. The additional supports and the CERB have helped bridge the gap, and current reforms to EI are an opportunity to better support workers in the long term.

In our brief, we have included eight recommendations to update the EI system. I'd like to expand on a few of those in the time I have.

Let's talk about apprentices. Currently, apprentices enrolled and participating in the in-class portion of their apprenticeship, which often lasts only a few months over a period of years, often do not receive their entitlements from EI until after training is completed. This wait creates an economic barrier for apprentices to complete the in-class portion of the training and challenge the certification exam. To grow Canada's skilled trades workforce, we need to expedite the EI applications for apprentices to allow them to receive EI payments faster and complete their training.

As we look to rebuild our economy, we recognize the changing nature of work, and we've included recommendations to extend the EI training support benefit, address the limits in the Canada training benefit and support workers seeking retraining or skill upgrading.

There are a few key areas that we need to focus on. For example, Canada's energy sector is changing. As it changes, so does the nature of work, and a just transition, including skills retraining, needs to be included to make sure no worker gets left behind. We need to lessen the confusion of navigating the system to ensure more workers can utilize training programs and benefits.

As the economy changes, we also need to crack down on employer misclassification of workers, who are often labelled as independent contractors or self-employed, allowing employers to evade EI and other payroll deductions. A recent study in Ontario by the Ontario Construction Secretariat indicates loss of revenue to governments in the magnitude of $1.8 billion to $3.1 billion annually. Addressing the misclassification of workers will help broaden EI's base and prevent free-riding and undercutting competition.

Canada's Building Trades Unions is also requesting that the dedicated EI program liaison officers be restored. Think of an apprentice who doesn't know the system. They submit a report to an EI office that redirects them to apply for other similar jobs, not understanding the cyclical nature of construction and how a union hiring hall works. This not only confuses the apprentice but leads to deferring apprenticeship completion. CBT recommends that each of Canada's four regions have its own liaison officer who can understand the specific issues pertaining to the region and the building trades.

I'd like to also talk about getting Canadians back to work in the construction sector. There's a private member's bill in the House, Bill C-275, which will help get workers back to work across Canada. Unlike many careers, construction is temporary, in that you build a project, complete it and then move on to the next. This can require workers to travel and to temporarily relocate for work. Costs could be too much for a worker and could disincentivize them to travel. This can create labour shortages in different regions, with high unemployment in others—something that a skilled trades mobility tax deduction would address.

Currently, the temporary foreign worker program is a tool used to support labour shortages. However, it is not being implemented accurately with labour market information data. This has become a bigger issue in certain trades and regions, particularly in B.C. We need to better address how temporary foreign worker applications are reviewed, make it easier for skilled trades workers to travel to where the work is, and rely less on temporary foreign workers and government programs like EI.

I thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to answering questions later during the deliberations.

March 18th, 2021 / 3:10 p.m.
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Sean Strickland Executive Director, Canada's Building Trades Unions

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's great to see everyone this afternoon. I apologize for the late start. I had technical difficulties, as is the way as we deal with some of these issues through the pandemic. I applaud each and every one of you for having these meetings and forming this committee.

I represent Canada's Building Trades Unions, part of North America's Building Trades Unions. We represent 14 international construction unions with offices in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa. Combined membership of our two organizations is three million unionized construction workers across the U.S. and Canada, including 600,000 members in Canada.

Canada-U.S. trade relations and energy policy have a direct effect on our workers on both sides of the border. The potential closure of Line 5 has the full attention of our leadership in the United States and in Canada, and it is being raised at the highest levels of elected and government officials. Discussions are also taking place to dissuade potential implementation of buy America policies to be recast as buy North America to the greater benefit of both of our countries.

We encourage, in the strongest terms possible, the Canadian government and all elected officials to do everything in their power to prevent the closure of Line 5, and, if the closure becomes a reality, to invoke the 1977 transit pipelines treaty.

You are familiar with the cataclysmic effects such a closure would cause—potential loss of 25,000 jobs and increased prices for gas, propane, and petrochemical products used in manufacturing.

The closure would not end our demand for petrochemical products and fuel but would result in the industry workarounds that you heard about previously from Mr. Mancinelli, which would require upwards of 2,000 trucks a day or 800 railcars and increase the number of barges carrying oil on the Great Lakes.

The environmental impacts of closing the pipeline would be greater than those of continuing to safely operate the pipeline until the new Great Lakes tunnel for the pipeline is built. We must do everything in our power to keep Line 5 operational and fight like hell if the courts allow for the easement to be cancelled.

However, at the same time our unions are progressive enough to realize that the greening of the economy is inevitable and necessary, but we need to be smart about it. We need to operationalize the recently agreed-to U.S.-Canada road map, elevate the discussion, and create a bilateral U.S.-Canada energy policy that addresses our cross-border energy needs and secures the energy future of both the U.S. and Canada. This transition is not turnkey, and it needs to address the thousands and millions of American and Canadian jobs affected.

CBTU recommends that the government establish a task force to examine the future of energy jobs. This task force would focus on developing a bilateral energy policy with the United States; coordinating the new technologies to power our energy future, such as carbon capture and storage, renewable methane technology, small modular reactors, and hydrogen; greening our infrastructure; and, for our members, supporting workers through the transition. This task force would communicate and work in conjunction with the newly formed U.S. Office of Energy Jobs.

To support workers, we recommend higher labour standards and collective bargaining for renewable jobs, like wind and solar projects; a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction; the adoption of private member's bill C-275, which would create fairness for workers and support worker mobility; a dedicated visa program that allows skilled trades workers to travel more easily between Canada and the U.S.; and of course government support for retraining energy workers.

Line 5 is crucial to our economy and is an issue we will continue to advocate for. Line 5 needs to be part of a long-term vision that focuses on building the energy future of the United States and Canada so we will not be faced with the same hurdles—fighting to save projects or pipelines—time and time again.

We need a bilateral energy policy to secure both our nations' energy futures and a transition for workers at the same time.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

March 11th, 2021 / 10:40 a.m.
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Scott Duvall NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-275, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses deduction for tradespersons).

Madam Speaker, this bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, would accomplish three things: eliminate a long-standing tax unfairness for building trade workers, improve labour mobility, and give businesses access to an effectively larger pool of qualified tradespeople.

Currently, paragraph 8(1)(h) of the Income Tax Act generally allows an income tax deduction for employees who have work-related travel expenses that have not been reimbursed. However, a CRA interpretation continues to deny that to those working in the building trades because of the nature of the work on what are called “job sites”, often making it difficult to avoid social programs such as employment insurance. My bill would fix that by allowing a tax deduction for travel expenses for tradespeople or apprentices who are required to secure or maintain employment in construction activity at a job site.

The passing of this bill would project a net savings to the government and is the right thing to do.

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