Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to join the House today from Hamilton Centre in support of this bill at third reading. I extend my sincere congratulations to the hon. member for Essex. We had quite some time joking around about the fact that he got to be an honorary New Democrat while presenting this private member's bill, Bill C-241. I think he even promised to wear an orange tie, although I am not quite sure that I have seen that in the House, but I have done my best today.
I wanted to make sure that as New Democrats we get a chance to set the record straight today. This bill has been proposed five times since 2006. The then hon. member Chris Charlton for Hamilton Mountain introduced this bill in 2006, 2008 and 2013. In fact, she had introduced Bill C-201 in 2013, which was crushed by a Conservative majority. I will give the hon. member for Essex the benefit, because I know from his remarks that he was not elected in 2013. However, I will note that the Conservative leader, the hon. member for Carleton, voted against it.
We, as New Democrats, continued to fight alongside the building trades, and in 2021 this was introduced by my dear friend, the always honourable Scott Duvall from Hamilton Mountain, and of course myself. In 2021, one of my first orders of business, and a promise I made to our Hamilton-Brantford Building Trades Council and all of its affiliates, was that I would pick it up and run with it in Bill C-222.
As pointed out by the previous Liberal member, there is only a small difference between what the government has introduced and what this bill provides with respect to distance. Members may recall in the previous reading that this was an issue I brought up. It was clear that in our bill, Bill C-222, we had suggested that the 120-kilometre radius was too far. It would have excluded too many people, particularly those who had to commute through hours of traffic in the GTA. In our bill it was 80 kilometres. If the Parliamentary Budget Officer had run those numbers, he would have seen that more people could have taken advantage of the deduction in our proposal. One of my regrets is that it was not carried through during its time at committee.
I acknowledge and give credit where it is due to the organized labour of Ontario. These are the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, Canada's Building Trades Unions, the Hamilton—Brantford Building & Construction Trades Council, the people I worked with and the people we are all familiar with, such as the recently retired Pat Dillon here in Ontario. Throughout his entire 20-year career he worked on this. He was dogmatic across all parties that it was something that had to happen because of the general fairness imbued in the bill and the differences identified among the corporate, the Bay Street and the management classes of the country. They got to travel around the world and deduct all of that. That privilege is not extended by the CRA to those who actually build wealth and generate true value in this economy, which is the working class.
I want to make a correction, and will do so even perhaps to my own embarrassment, but it certainly needs to be said in the House. It has been said many times that MPs get to write off their travel. That is not true. An MP's travel is covered by our members' budgets, so it is a very different scenario. I hope that we would ensure that what is good enough for us would be good enough for the working class.
I call again for the same spirit from our new-found socialist Conservative friends who are looking to extend these rights and privileges to the working class. Keep that energy up when it comes to things like dental care and pharmacare. These are things that we, as members of Parliament, have the privilege of receiving and some of us for our entire lives. Let us be clear. There are members in the House who speak about work and working class issues in a completely abstract way, because they have never actually worked in the private sector. That is a fact.
While I do not know the history of my friend from Essex, I am grateful that in his trips to the airport he was able to engage in a dialectical materialism with the working class. It identified that the real-world conditions of the working class and the contradictions of the class considerations provide a general unfairness in how we treat our blue-collar workers compared to the white-collar management class in this country. A person, such as a real estate lawyer or a developer, can fly across the country and write all of that off. However, the worker who actually builds that wealth and who constructs the actual material does not get the same consideration. It is indeed one of the inherent contradictions of our tax code and our general economy.
To go further, to talk about the exploitation of the building trades workers, the hon. member for Essex brought up the notion of affordability in housing. This is an issue that comes up in my community when I am talking to folks about the issues of their housing costs and how far away their ability is, through their wages, to purchase the things they make. This is indeed a perversion of the capitalism and the impacts of capitalism in this country that divorces the working class from the end product of their labour. It is an alienation of the working class. It is an estrangement of labour.
In the example I used, the building a house metaphor, while the cost of building the house varies between provinces and because of factors like materials, currently the housing construction costs range between $120 to $250 per square foot. If we were to average this out, it would be about $185 per square foot or approximately $370,000 to build a 2,000 square foot home in Canada. That is twice as much, and sometimes three times as much, as the average market cost. StatsCan listed the average Canadian house price in 2022 at approximately $704,000.
The average salary I could find of a union carpenter is about $70,000. That means it is 10 times as much, or 10 years' worth of work, for the person who builds the house to be able to purchase the house. The surplus value of their labour goes to people who have never swung a hammer in their entire lives. It goes to the banking class, the Bay Street class, the developer class and those who go to Doug Ford's family weddings and pay to increase their access to construction within provinces like Ontario. The money and the obscene profits that are made never make their way to the working class of this country.
It is the ultra-elite and the well-connected, those who have political ties, those who would seek to keep wages low and recall the Bank of Canada calling to keep the wages of workers low while the costs continue to run amok. It is shareholders, private investors in the investing class in this country, who are the ones taking the surplus value of workers' wages. It is not because workers are fighting for higher wages.
Under this economic system of private ownership, society only has two classes. These are the property class, or those who have access to capital, and everybody else. The workers are suffering from not only impoverishment but also from exploitation and estrangement from their work. That is why this very meagre private member's bill, Bill C-241, is literally the least we can do in the House to acknowledge that there is a general unfairness in our tax system.
I hope the hon. members from the Conservative Party, who crushed this bill some 10 years ago, who now have found their way in supporting this private member's bill, will keep that same energy up and understand it is the working class of this country who creates the value. That is who we should be prioritizing in the policies of the House.