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


Chris Lewis  Conservative

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


Third reading (Senate), as of Dec. 6, 2023

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-241.


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 amounts expended for travelling where they were employed in a construction activity at a job site that is located at least 120 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.


March 22, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons)
June 8, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons)

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2023 / 12:25 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, this was one of the examples where somebody would not get a chocolate chip cookie from mom. I am just teasing.

I guess I will answer the question, and the question is really an easy one to answer. If the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister are so friendly with labour, why did only one Liberal in the entire caucus vote for Bill C-241? That is a really easy question, so I will answer a question with a question. Why do they not support skilled trades?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

November 27th, 2023 / 12:05 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to rise in the House to represent the amazing folks of Essex. I give all my thanks to God for giving me the opportunity.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I lost my momma. If the House would allow it, I would like to share a few words before I dive into Bill C-58.

Mom would text me during question period to say, “Christopher, you are not wearing a tie today, so you must not be speaking.” Mom would also text me to say, “Christopher, stop chewing gum”, “Smile”, or “Christopher, wake up.”

The little things in life get us through, and the real little things in life were mom's chocolate chip cookies. Mom was known on the Hill for her chocolate chip cookies. However, if a member did something bad, I would get a text saying that the member would not be getting a chocolate chip cookie that day.

She was a servant. She served beyond belief. She is the great reason I am where I am, and why I am who I am.

Although those texts have come to a very abrupt end, after she spent only 13 days in hospital battling cancer, her legacy lives on. If my dad and my brothers Jeff and Kim are watching, I want them to know that Helen, our momma, is in the House of Commons with us all here today. As I promised momma at her bedside, I will make her proud and live to serve. I love her. I thank the House for indulging me.

Bill C-58 has two main elements. First, it would ban the use of replacement workers in federally regulated workplaces, such as banks, airports and telecommunications, but not in the federal public service. It would replace an existing, albeit much more limited, prohibition on the use of replacement workers in the Canada Labour Code.

Second, Bill C-58 would amend the maintenance of activities process to encourage not only quicker agreement between employers and trade unions on what activities should be maintained in the case of a strike or a lockout, but also faster decision-making by the Canada Industrial Relations Board in this connection. The provisions of Bill C-58 would only apply to federally regulated workers. If enacted, the provisions of Bill C-58 would enter into force 18 months after royal assent has been received.

It brings forward a lot of questions and a lot of discussion. I would start by saying that I am very proud to be the shadow minister, the critic, for labour. I have travelled across this country, literally from coast to coast to coast, speaking with both unionized and non-unionized workers in places such as Halifax; St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador; Vancouver, at the Port of Vancouver; and Montreal.

I have been across this country, meeting with both unionized and non-unionized workforces, their management teams, and the folks with their boots on the ground. What I hear all the time is them saying, “Just let me go to work. I want to go to work. I don't really want to be on strike. What I really want to do is have a good-paying job so I can ultimately feed my family, put diapers on my babies, fill their little mouths with pablum and afford to buy my wife some flowers. I can't do that when I'm on strike.”

At the end of the day, we have seen an unprecedented amount of strikes across this country over the last number of years. Every time I turn around, we are dealing with another strike. Why is that? One has to really wonder if it is the cost of living. Is it the cost of food, which our workers cannot afford? Is it the high interest rates? Is it the carbon tax on fuel and food? Is that the reason why? It always goes back to the same question: Why are we seeing an unprecedented amount of strikes? We have to believe that it is due to inflation. It is due to the cost of living, as well as uncertainty, no doubt.

I will speak quickly to the topic of the Stellantis battery plant in Windsor. One good thing about Air Canada is that it is almost always delayed, which allows me more time to speak to my constituents back home when I am at the airport.

Last night, I spoke to someone at IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who said what the problem is. We have an amazing workforce here in Canada of electrical workers. They are bringing them in from Manitoba and Alberta. They are there in Windsor. They are literally in Windsor to start to work. However, they are very concerned about all of the folks potentially being brought in from South Korea to do all work. In the past, those workers did all the work at tier 2 and tier 3. They have done all that work. He said he understood that 10, 20 or 30 people may need to be brought in to program the computers, but the rest of it they already know how to do.

Then I spoke to the carpenter's union, and they said the same thing. They have the whole workforce there. Why are folks being brought in from other places to do the work that they, quite frankly, are trained to do?

The part of this bill that is somewhat confusing to me is that it is only for federally regulated workers. It does not apply to federally regulated public sector workers. If the government is going to tell businesses that there will be no replacement workers, why would the government not do it for itself? It makes one wonder.

We have had amazing, amazing yields in southwestern Ontario this year from our farmers. Some of the highest bumper crops that we have see in a long time. About 90% to 92% of our grain is exported. If we cannot get the grain onto the ships and overseas, we have a major issue, and we have a major issue right now.

There was just an issue on the Great Lakes, which, by the way, got solved. It is like what was reported yesterday in the news about No Frills. The issue with workers at No Frills was solved yesterday, just like at the Port of Montreal and the Port of Vancouver. How were they solved? They were solved at the table through democracy. There is always a solution when we speak. There is always a solution when people come to the table to have good, fair, strong, respectful dialogue. That is how things get solved.

Because I sit on the transport committee, am a bona fide farmer and was a businessman, my concern is that this potential legislation could drive fewer jobs for the country. It is a matter of fact that this could drive potential Canadian business investment away from Canada, which would ultimately mean fewer jobs.

Ironically, at 9 a.m. tomorrow, I head to the Senate to do my darnedest to get Bill C-241, my private member's bill, through committee. Bill C-241 is a bill that would allow the writeoff of travel expenses for both unionized and non-unionized skilled trades workers. I do not know of anyone in the House who would disagree with me when I say that Canada is absolutely in a major housing crisis, and Bill C-241 would allow the mobility of our skilled trades, both unionized and non-unionized workers, to travel across the country.

I look at Stellantis and the entire project, the upwards of $50 billion for the three battery plants, and I know one thing for sure: We need skilled trade workers at those sites. However, I also know that we need to build homes from coast to coast to coast. Hopefully, tomorrow the Senate will give us the green light, so to speak, and Bill C-241 will get through the Senate to support our skilled trade workers.

For clarity, for anybody watching at home, and I am sure a lot are watching me, this is only for federally regulated workers. This does not dive into the provinces and their regulations.

This is going to sound goofy, but during the Port of Vancouver strike, a message was left at my office, and I called the gentleman back. He said he owns a coffee shop, but he cannot get any cups for the coffee, so he will have to shut his doors because he ordered the cups from overseas. It sounds small and insignificant, but that is one more business that shut its doors, is not paying taxes, that is not employing people or laying them off. It is one more business that Canada is, quite frankly, bleeding.

There is nothing more important than our labour force. My father always said it best. Someone can have the greatest widget in the world, but they cannot build it and they cannot sell it without people. There is not a business I know of that is not about the people, and they only ever will be.

The answer is very simple: Get to the table, get the folks at the table and have a conversation. Deliberations have worked in the past. That is where the answer lies.

In closing, I will just finish with the following. I come from the business world but I also was boots on the ground. In my role as shadow minister for labour, I met some pretty extraordinary folks. I think about the folks at the ILWU out in Vancouver, who treated me with so much respect when I visited them two or three times. I think about the folks out in Halifax and St. John's, Newfoundland. I think about the folks in my own backyard in Essex. Again, it is resounding that it is only about the people.

There is only one way that we are going to rebuild Canada, that Canada is going to be built, that we are going to have enough homes, that we are going to have the manufacturing and we are going to be on the front line in leading-edge technology, and that is with people. However, they need to be Canadian people. They cannot be folks from overseas who are taking away the jobs of Canadians.

I want to thank the Speaker for allowing me to celebrate my mother and allowing me to have a bit of freedom in my speech today. I am so darn passionate and compassionate when it comes to our labour force and it means the world to me.

Opposition Motion—Reducing Home Heating CostsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2023 / 1:35 p.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-241, as I understand it, was an NDP bill before the member, thankfully, took it up and brought it forward again and it was passed. That is what we should be doing: supporting tradespeople across the country who have to travel. Any other business people can charge their travel expenses.

As the member mentioned, we will need more tradespeople to do all of this work. Not only do heat pumps have to be installed, but homes also need to be retrofitted to make sure they are properly insulated. That is one of the first things that need to be done. I just finished doing that in my house, and now I am going to turn my thoughts to the heat pump part. We will need tradespeople for that, and sometimes it is difficult to find enough tradespeople because they are doing a lot of work in this regard.

Yes, we should be training tradespeople to do that. There is a program for it at Okanagan College in Penticton. It is one of the leading sustainable building trades programs in the country. We have to support people going into those programs and then once they come out.

Opposition Motion—Reducing Home Heating CostsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 7th, 2023 / 1:35 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of discussion this morning about heat pumps. I have not yet heard anybody bring up the installation of heat pumps. There is a portion that goes outside the house and a portion that goes inside the house, and then there are pipes underground. Not that long ago, I introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-241, regarding a deduction of travel expenses for skilled trades. As we need heat pumps across the country, we will not have people to install them.

All but one Liberal member voted against Bill C-241. The NDP was good enough to vote for it. Would the member agree with me that, indeed, the Liberals should have voted for Bill C-241?

May 30th, 2023 / 11:40 a.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Gordon.

What I heard you say is “remove the gatekeepers”. I have heard that before.

Ms. Rahmati, you spoke about natural disasters and having to pick up a workforce from Ontario, for example, and get them out to B.C. for wildfires or floods. Of course, my bill, Bill C-241, the mobility tax deduction, which has now passed the House of Commons and gone to the Senate, will help get people to these places.

Then there was talk about new training models, as well. I'm a big advocate that we need to start our training in the school systems in the early years, because the same children who play with Tonka trucks in a sandbox at three and four for some strange reason are told at five, six and seven that they need to be doctors, lawyers and—Lord forbid—politicians or they are nothing.

Are these new training models what you're talking about specifically? What, specifically, are you speaking to?

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 21st, 2023 / 2:10 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise here today. I want to, first, thank all my colleagues who have spoken on this bill in the previous hour of debate and this hour of debate. I have much gratitude for them getting to know my area.

This area is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of first nations, which includes the Ojibway, the Odawa and the Potawatomi. As appropriately put, this is part of reconciliation. This is a story that is very important because it shows that we can do better.

For my part, I am thankful for the timing of this taking place. One of my heroes is Chief Duckworth. I want to thank Walpole Island First Nation as well. Chief Duckworth from Caldwell First Nation was left out of the consultation for the Gordie Howe bridge. We got to know each other when I invited them to come down to the community benefits, where they did not receive any invitation. We crashed the event together; I would not go in without them. The council let them in. That was the start of a very good relationship with Caldwell First Nations. More needs to be done, but it is a good start.

It is also a great tribute to my past mentor, Senator Earl "Boots" Scofield, who was a Métis senator. He also flew 17 missions in World War II in the bubble of a Mosquito bomber.

I want to quickly thank Janet Sumner and Dave Pearce from the Wildlands League, who have also been partners from the start and amazing heroes of mine. I thank the City of Windsor Council, and Mayor Dilkens, Councillor McKenzie and Councillor Francis in particular. Mayor Dilkens has been instrumental in this. I am grateful for the work that we have done, because this has included our region. The city has been at the forefront, giving up land, and that has been important.

I want to thank Lisa Gretzky, in my provincial Parliament, my colleague for Windsor West, who has always been wonderful to work with. She has been very involved in this. I want to thank MPP Andrew Dowie and also Minister Piccini in the Province of Ontario, who authorized the transfer of land that is coming up.

Of course the Friends of the Rouge are important. The Unifor Environmental Committee with Mark Bartlett, Rick Labonte, Ric St. Denis, Dave Cassidy and others were huge with this.

There is Green Ummah, who have gotten young people involved. There is the Friends of Ojibway, Claire McAllister, Paul Pratt and Mike Fisher. There is Save Ojibway community group. There is Jonathan Choquette from the Wildlife Preservation Canada, and John Hartig, another hero of mine. He is an American who has a Canadian part of his heart.

There is Bill Rousel, Phil Roberts, Derek Coronado, Frank Butler and the Citizens Environmental Alliance. We also have the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup and Windsor Essex Bike Community.

I want to again talk about some of the MPs here. The member for Essex has been instrumental in this, which is very important because the land that he represents is very close to this. I want to thank him for this, and his Bill C-241. It has been fun working together. It is hard to say “fun” in this place sometimes, but it does happen.

I want to thank the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for coming on board. We will need his support in the Senate, as well as for the whole area and this House.

I want to thank numerous ministers that I have had discussions with, even though originally there was a difficulty in getting the government onside. I am glad it is, and look forward to the vote. As well, I thank the Conservatives, Bloc and Green and the two Liberals who voted for it earlier. It is very important.

I do want to say that there is one person who has been a custodian and who sometimes gets overlooked, Peter Berry at the Port Authority. He is a hero. He is actually a former service person from Canada's military, and served in Bosnia. He is very much a hero.

I want to thank Parks Canada staff. I cannot say who is watching right now, but I think people are watching, including my partner, Terry Chow, my good friend, Jeff Mussen, and of course my daughter and son, Alex and Wade.

I want to quickly note Mo Peer and Melanie, the lead in my office, as well as Darlene, Eva, Farah, Heather and Myrna.

I cannot get through everything, but I do want to conclude soon. I want to say that we have been consulting on this a long time. There are so many other people I wish I had time to recognize. Please forgive me if I did not say someone's name.

The reality is we have done consultations for thousands of people. There were public meetings, interactions and a whole number of different social events and other things that brought us to this point. I am looking forward to us working together further.

I am going to read a quick poem to close things out. It is from Marty Gervais, a historian in Windsor, who is very much part of the fabric of our history. There are also four other persons who helped collaborate on a book. It is called Pathway:

I don't know where this pathway leads as I walk alone.
Trees keep me company, offer shelter from wind, and there is sunlight enough to soften shadows, to warm me as I continue deeper into the mystery of this Ojibway day.

The reason I mention that is because tomorrow is Earth Day, and a new chapter starts for this with this vote on Wednesday.

I want to thank all of the members who have been supportive of this process as we went forward because it is not about us. It is about the next generation. That is what is amazing.

Canada National Parks ActPrivate Members' Business

April 21st, 2023 / 1:30 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to participate virtually in the House this afternoon.

The first thing I would like to do, with your indulgence, is to wish my lovely wife Allison happy birthday. She is incredibly sweet and young. I love her dearly and I want to celebrate that.

Second, I want to congratulate the member for Windsor West for getting the bill this far. The member and I have worked tirelessly on this together. It is a fantastic example of collaboration and how working across the aisles we can certainly get things done for our regions. I know how influential he was with respect to my private member's bill, Bill C-241, and it has been an honour to work with him on his private member's bill, Bill C-248, an act to amend the Canada National Parks Act, the Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada specifically.

This has been a fantastic example of collaboration from all levels of government, which is enormous. I know our constituents continually ask us to not always fight in the House and to try to get along and find common ground. It puts a big smile on my face on a Friday to know that really good, unique things can get done when we work together.

As an example, our provincial government has come to the table. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change has been amazing in making sure that this comes to fruition, along with MPP Andrew Dowie, from Windsor—Tecumseh, who has also been very influential in the conversation and bringing those folks together. I really want to celebrate and thank them.

I have had many conversations with Mayor Dilkens, the mayor of Windsor, who is very much in support of this private member's bill, along with the mayor and councillors of LaSalle. It is a win-win for our community, so I thank them.

I want to thank our first nations: Chief Duckworth of the Caldwell First Nation, in collaboration with the Walpole Island First Nation.

Then of course there were amazing community consultations and a ton of outreach. People have literally been so vital in this conversation and I just want to thank them so much for that.

I will be very prudent and say that I am happy the Liberals changed their mind, because twice they voted against this. I am not sure what changed, but I am certainly happy they recognize that this is going to lead to huge opportunities for tourism, our economy and the health and mental health of people in our regions of Essex, Windsor—Tecumseh, Windsor West and Chatham-Kent—Leamington.

I have done my due diligence. I have spent countless hours in discussions with mayors, in community consultations, and with stakeholders. There were two things that were always top of mind. One is to make darn sure that our corridors and arteries, Matchette Road and Malden Road, remain open so that the folks who need to get back and forth to Windsor to work in our automotive sector and our new battery plant that is coming up do not encounter a big blockade that does not allow them to get back and forth to work early. They are putting in countless hours at these businesses and we should not have the major arteries, which are the major roads, blocked so they cannot get back and forth from their place of residence.

Equally, I have spoken many times on the importance of getting Canadians active. We have been basically stuck in our home for three and a half years due to COVID. It is time to get active, to get out on the trails, either a biking or hiking trail, or spend time with family and mother nature. This park has white-tailed deer, raccoons and the endangered eastern fox snake, which I really hope does not cross the path in front of me when I go out to this new park. We have the Gordie Howe International Bridge set to open up in 2025, which perhaps can connect with this urban national park. There is going to be a walking path on the bridge.

The tourism opportunities here for our region are absolutely vital. It is huge for the area, let alone the economy and what it is going to bring to our small businesses, hotels and restaurants, all those who are offering their services.

This is a really good, very well-thought-out private member's bill. Again, I am very happy to be supporting this.

Let me also say that this does not affect private lands. It will have zero effect on those lands that are surrounding it today. This bill uses existing federal-provincial lands that already exist. All it is doing is taking the existing green space and bringing it all together, which is enormous. It is protecting the environment.

Essex, Windsor West and Windsor—Tecumseh is a very small area. We are surrounded by three bodies of water, Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. Property is at a premium, to say the least. When we can give opportunities for folks to get outdoors, to get active, to spend time with their families away from our televisions, then I think we need to enhance that. We need to celebrate it. We have to do everything possible to ensure that we are doing our due diligence on that.

Tomorrow is Earth Day. What a fitting day to be talking about a private member's bill that is actually protecting some 800 acres in Essex that would go a long way to ensuring that our feathered and furry friends are protected.

I understand this bill is to be voted on next Wednesday, and I really hope that it gets passed. Equally, I am hoping that we can somehow, in some way get it to the Senate as quickly as possible, to get their support. Would it not be remarkable if we could get it through the Senate and allow these folks to start taking advantage, again, of this urban national park?

The greedy side of me says, along with Bill C-248, I also hope the Senate talks about Bill C-241, which is my private member's bill. Maybe they could push that through at the same time.

Conservatives will be voting in favour of Bill C-248. Again, I want to celebrate and congratulate the member for Windsor West. It has been an honour to work alongside him. This is only positive for our region, specifically for Essex, Windsor West, Windsor—Tecumseh and Chatham-Kent—Leamington. It would enhance the lives and mental health of people going forward.

Income Tax ActPrivate Member's Business

March 22nd, 2023 / 4:10 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-241 under Private Members' Business.

The House resumed from March 21 consideration of the motion that Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons), be read the third time and passed.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 21st, 2023 / 6:40 p.m.
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Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, they say it is a marathon, not a race. Tonight, I think we got halfway through the marathon. Tomorrow could be a really monumental day for skilled trades across Canada. If the bill is passed in the House, it will go to the Senate. People will be one step closer to building Canada, the economy, and quite frankly, their own careers.

First and foremost, Bill C-241 is a common bill for the common people. It makes common sense, something that does not happen a lot in this House.

I want to thank God because without him, this opportunity would never have existed. I thank him so much for this opportunity.

I want to give my thanks to the Bloc Québécois for their amazing remarks this evening and to the member for Windsor West for really understanding this bill and what it can do for skilled trades across Canada. My thanks to those members.

I want to thank Tommy Helgun from the carpenters union, who was down from Windsor. Truthfully, he is one of the curators of this bill. He was here this evening. I got a chance to speak to him before this. I really want to say thanks to him and Karl Lovett from the IBEW, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; really, really awesome. Nancy Yan helped me get to this spot as well; she knows who she is. I thank all the various trades across Canada that I have spoken to over the last year or so while scripting and tweaking this bill, ensuring that it is actually doing the work that it is designed to do. To each and every one of them, I send my thanks.

I am not one who says anything other than let us get the darn job done and fast forward this as much as we possibly can.

This afternoon, I had a chance to speak with our leader. I filled him in. I really want to give my thanks to the leader of the official opposition for being very influential on this bill. I know that back when he was the shadow minister for finance, I went to him for his thoughts. He said to make darn sure that it is a tax deduction and there is no limit on this, so that folks, workers and skilled trades across Canada do not have a limit on how many hours they should be working per year.

I guess the question in the House now is: Why does the Liberal Party not support skilled trades? I do not understand, to save my soul, why it would not support them, but apparently it does not. Tomorrow is a fresh, new day.

It has only ever been and will only ever be about the people. One can have the greatest widget in the world, but one will not build or sell it unless one is surrounded by the greatest people. Our skilled trades are exactly who will build this amazing country called Canada. Equally, however, they need our support.

I truly do not care who gets the credit. If the government wants to take my bill, Bill C-241, and put in the legislation tomorrow, I am good with that as long as our skilled trades get the support they deserve and need.

Again, it is a marathon; it is not a race. My phone is on, and my door is open. If the government will reach out to me and have a conversation about how to enhance this, perhaps in the Senate when it goes there tomorrow thanks to the amazing Bloc and NDP support, I am all ears. Let us just support our skilled trades.

In closing, I will say this one more time: It has only ever been about the people. Unless we support the ones who fix our bridges, build our roads and keep our electrical system going, we have nothing.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 21st, 2023 / 6:35 p.m.
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Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are here this evening to debate Bill C‑241, an act to amend the Income Tax Act with regard to deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons.

Bill C‑241, which is sponsored by the member from the Ontario riding of Essex, is at third reading stage. It seeks to amend “the Income Tax Act to allow tradespersons and indentured apprentices to deduct from their income amounts expended for travelling where they were employed in a construction activity at a job site that is located at least 120 km away from their ordinary place of residence.”

From the outset, I want to say that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of this small but extremely worthwhile initiative. In my opinion, most members agree on this bill. We could settle this this evening by taking a vote by a show of hands. Honestly, I find this a bit tough from a procedural perspective. We know that everyone will vote in favour of the bill, but there is a process to follow, even though we know the outcome will be the same at the end of it.

The tax benefit being introduced by Bill C‑241 responds to a request made by Canada's Building Trades Unions, which represent more than half a million construction workers across the country. These people work in more than 60 trades and professions and generate 6% of Canada's GDP. That is significant.

As we know, in Quebec, the construction industry is an extremely important sector of activity. We are talking about investments of nearly $53 million in 2019. We are also talking about 264,600 direct jobs generated per month, on average, or one out of every 20 jobs in Quebec.

In Canada, salespeople, professionals and various other workers in different sectors can already claim a tax deduction for the cost of their travel, meals and accommodation. I believe and the Bloc believes that it stands to reason that these expenses could be claimed by skilled workers whose job sites are far from their primary residence. It is simply a question of fairness.

The scope of Bill C-241 is essentially fiscal, but it is also economic, because it addresses labour shortages and, by extension, inflation. When expenses are not covered by the employer, workers must cover them themselves. With a family to support, additional expenses for travel can obviously become quite burdensome and undermine a worker's incentive to accept certain contracts from time to time.

Inflation was 6.8% in 2022, the highest since 1982. In 1982 it was 10.9%. We need only think of the extreme volatility of gas prices. The price of a litre of gas in Quebec last June was $2.20, enough to bankrupt any family that has to travel a lot for work.

As I was saying, the tax deduction introduced by Bill C-241 is a concrete and effective measure to encourage the mobility of workers in the construction sector. It is an incentive to return to work. We believe that.

According to a recent poll by Canada's Building Trades Unions, 75% of skilled trades workers say that a tax deduction will give them access to more job opportunities.

Given the current inflation, this is the right time to bring in this tax deduction that will help alleviate the financial burden for tradespeople. This tax incentive promises to provide a solution to the labour shortage, and therefore reduce Quebeckers' and Canadians' dependence on government programs such as employment insurance.

Calculations have shown that Bill C-241 could save the federal government approximately $347 million.

I want to make it clear that we are not reinventing the wheel with Bill C‑241. Other countries, such as the United States, have had a similar tax deduction for quite some time. In short, it is a targeted, relevant and timely measure that has been proven to work on the other side of the border. It would be difficult for all parties here in the House to oppose this bill.

I made a correlation earlier between the tax deduction proposed in Bill C‑241, the job shortage and inflation. The Bloc Québécois members believe that addressing the labour shortage will help ease the inflation that is increasingly affecting and worrying our constituents.

The pandemic forced many people out of the workforce for health reasons and exacerbated the labour shortage in some sectors, including the construction trades. This shortage is hindering the economic recovery, because it results in forced closures, lost contracts, significantly reduced investment in our businesses and overworked employees.

Today's inflation stems in part from an imbalance between supply and demand: Supply is limited because of the labour shortage, but demand is stable and growing. Reducing the labour shortage in a specific sector, as Bill C‑241 seeks to do, could potentially fix the imbalance between supply and demand, in addition to reducing inflation as I was saying earlier.

Consequently, in my opinion, it was ill-advised and counterproductive of the Liberal government to try to create one million jobs in budget 2021 without including effective mechanisms to deal with the labour shortage.

The Bloc Québécois has been taking the labour shortage seriously for a long time now. During the last election campaign, we proposed plenty of solutions: recognizing experienced workers; transferring the temporary foreign workers program to Quebec; investing in research and development; investing in the digital transformation; and creating tax credits for new graduates who move to the regions for work.

In summary, the Bloc Québécois has always been an ally of tradespersons who make an essential and invaluable contribution to Quebec's economic prosperity. Bill C‑241 introduces a targeted and appropriate tax measure that will ease the financial burden of tradespersons while addressing the labour shortage and inflation.

For all of these reasons, once again, the Bloc Québécois will support Bill C‑241.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 21st, 2023 / 6:15 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate here this evening. Bill C-241, sponsored by the member for Essex, is an excellent bill that the NDP will be supporting. I am also pleased to be in the same area as the member, and I think it is a good example of how we can bring forth responsible and solid legislation that not only reflects on our area, but also impacts the rest of the country.

Unfortunately, I cannot get the last 10 minutes back from the previous speaker, but I can say that the member sponsoring the bill has been open to meeting with the government and ministers on an open basis. He has approached the Liberals very responsibly, trying to get them to come on board. Quite frankly, I think the only reason the Liberals do not support it is because it is not their idea. It is as simple as that.

I am going to go through the specifics of why the bill is important, but a lot of people would see this as a housekeeping bill in many respects. I want to point out that this is a modest tax credit and a piece of legislation with an approach that should be, in a minority Parliament, a bipartisan way to get some stuff done for Canada. I commend the member for coming forth with the bill right away. He was selected high in the order, and we only get a certain amount of opportunities and time. It is like winning the lottery.

This is not a going-through-the-motions type of bill; it is going to provide a tax credit. We know there are many tax credits out there for other individuals and corporations. It is unfortunate that we do not have this one, which is to allow for travel-related expenses for work done at least 120 kilometres away from a skilled trades member's place of residence. In Windsor and Essex County, which includes LaSalle, Tecumseh and Kingsville, even the Chatham-Kent area in southern Ontario, there are often different times where we might have a flux of employment in the auto industry, or other types of trades that go up and down. We also have many workers who will fly out to Alberta, to the oil sands, or fly out to other places to do skilled trades work. This is a modest tax credit to help them in that process.

These individuals are self-employed in many respects, although they often belong to unions, like LiUNA, which is a very good union, and Unifor, which is another good union. At times, they are individually contracted to go out to different places, and the cost can be quite significant. The previous speaker from the Bloc mentioned a really good point on the inflationary costs that have gone up for travel, and other things of that nature. I think that is an excellent point. This keeps people working all the time and stops them from having to go on unemployment. It also encourages young people to have more stability. It is a challenge to work abroad. There is a lot of stress when it comes to family and raising young children.

These measures are controllable. The person has to provide receipts. There is full accountability for the expenses taking place. I looked at some of the other tax havens, the types of taxes and tax credits we have for people. I will focus on a couple of them to show how unfair it is for these workers to not be able to write off a few business-related expenses for their travel when it is helpful for our country. We have a corporate dividend tax credit, a tax credit for the oil and gas industry, and a stock option deduction for taxes. We have a number of different businesses taxes that businesses can write off, which even include private boxes for sports tickets, concerts, vacations, office parties, and deductions for executive pay. If members can believe it, all those things are a tax deduction, but they are not for skilled trades workers.

We are also trying to get more women and diversity into our skilled trades, but they cannot get the same deductions we can for an office party. It is outrageous. For the government to complicate this, or make it more difficult than it seems, is irresponsible. I do not know why the Liberals cannot just get behind the bill. It is unfortunate. The bill has a history in this House. Former New Democrats for Hamilton Centre have brought this forth, including past members Chris Charlton, David Christopherson and Wayne Marsden. Now our current member for Hamilton Centre, who is doing an excellent job on this, and the member for Essex have pulled this together, and I think it is worthy of being brought forth on its merit alone.

We have done this before. In the last Parliament, I worked with the member from Saskatoon when I had a private member's bill on single-event sports betting, and because he got selected higher, I took it off the Order Paper and gave it to him. He took it and did a wonderful job, and the legislation got passed. It affected the reduction of organized crime, and now we have an accountable process. It is a good example of making Parliament work. I think the bill before us should be seen with the same type of lens.

I do not know why government members would want to oppose this legislation. Some of them argue it is redundant. Some of them argue it is not good enough. It is ridiculous. Those arguments are shallow and vain, quite frankly, because if there is still a problem, it can go to the Senate for some amendments. Members can be creative and suggest something or show something that is wrong with it in a concrete way, rather than just trying to wind the clock down on the process.

When we get an opportunity in the House of Commons, it is like winning the lottery. For people who do not know, we are like ping-pong balls in many respects. The process is that we get drawn randomly, and if a member gets selected in the top 40, they at least have some hope of actually getting their bill through the entire process in a regular Parliament. However, in a minority Parliament, it is even more shallow, because if we do not have a five-year term, if it is a shorter term, a member would not be able to get their bill through. Even the last bill I did, again with the member from Saskatoon, who did an excellent job of working on the bill with me and others, came into effect within only a couple of days of the election, because the Prime Minister refused to do it. It took outside lobbying efforts to get him to finally officially authorize it and bring the legislation into force, a couple of days before the last election.

It is hard enough, and my point is that we all have a collective responsibility to use these opportunities as best we can. The member did not choose something like “happy groundhog month” or something very shallow like that. This legislation is well thought out. It is legislation that has been in the House before. It is not going to break the Bank of Canada. In fact, it passed the test of mettle in being proper and with due diligence, by the Speaker's ruling. This is one of the things that should be noted. We actually have unions behind the bill as well. Canada's Building Trade Unions has been supporting this tax deduction for a long time. Operably, it is really good. I mentioned LiUNA and Unifor as well.

Again, what we are talking about here is for a long period of travel, 120 kilometres, where a worker would be able to deduct a little bit of that cost. We have all seen, in the last number of months, and the last couple of years really, the rate of inflation going up. I could not think of anything that had more appropriate timing than this. In fact, it merits the government stealing the legislation if it wants to actually impress upon getting something done for workers at this particular time.

If the government is saying that we cannot afford this for skilled trade workers, then why would we not stop letting people write off private boxes, and stop corporations from deducting office parties and other nonsense like that? This is something that could go right to the worker.

Again, it would go through our accounting process, which is already established, and so the legislation would not create another bureaucratic arm or process. It would actually be an amendment to our current tax code, which is commendable in the approach it is taking. It is responsible and could actually be triggered right away.

I feel passionately about this. There are two things that are behind the bill. First and foremost is that a member has sincerely brought forth legislation, which has had a number of versions in the House in the past and is very much amenable to a bipartisan approach and working together. Second, it is very effective for tradespeople. It has a direct correlation to the economy and how we can actually protect workers and enhance opportunities for them and their families, and it has a social justice element as well.

To conclude, there are a lot of other tax things out there that are a bunch of nonsense and that really should be reviewed, eliminated or at least discussed, whereas this is extremely responsible. I hope the bill before us receives the proper weight or at least the government looking at what it can do, and that we can move it to the Senate and go from there.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 21st, 2023 / 6:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in the statements the member has made, there are some aspects I agree with, and others I disagree with. When we talk about Bill C-241 itself, there are issues with tax fairness within the legislation. There is a lack of safeguards within the legislation that the member talks about supporting. There are some technical deficiencies within the legislation.

I think that, if we take a look, if I may, at Bill C-19, which was the federal legislation that was brought forward, we would see that, in moving forward with the labour mobility tax credit, it does allow for workers in the building and construction trades to deduct up to $4,000 in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses, giving them a tax credit of up to $600 a year.

The labour mobility tax credit goes a long way in being supportive of an industry. The member made reference to the construction industry in the province of Quebec, and the construction industry in the province of Quebec is, in fact, very important to the government. We recognize that there are many ways and many areas in which, throughout the country, we can look at how we can further enhance and support the construction industry. There is a labour shortage. The member made reference to the kind of actions, and the number of jobs the government created. I think it is worthy of note.

Do members know that over 800,000 jobs have been created if we look at the number of jobs in Canada prepandemic? We can take a look at the number from before the pandemic started, and we can add about 825,000 or 830,000 new jobs since that time. I would ultimately argue that the government has been very successful at ensuring that Canada is in a great position to come back in a better and healthier way when it comes to the whole issue of jobs.

Yes, there is a huge demand for employees in the different regions of the country. There are certain sectors, and the construction area is one of the them. That is one of the reasons why we look at other mechanisms we could put into place to support. Whether it is forgiving the interest for apprentices on federal loans, the enhancement of the labour mobility tax credit, or other initiatives, I believe that it is contributing and making a difference.

We also recognize that immigration can play a critical role in meeting our labour demands, not only for today but also into the future. Further to that, I have always argued that, if we look outside Canada to supply workers, we should also, at the same time, look at ways we can enable those workers to become landed immigrants to Canada. That is something that has been very important to the government.

We have been looking at ways in which we can add to the workforce by bringing in international students. This has had a positive impact in Canada, in many different ways, not only filling literally tens of thousands of jobs, but also adding to the social fabric in which we all live in and have grown to appreciate.

The numbers of, and I use this as an example, international students today, compared to what it was seven, eight years ago, have multiplied significantly, from the 35,000 or 40,000 to closer to 350,000. There are significant numbers of international students who are studying a wide spectrum of issues. The member spoke prior talked about construction jobs, and many of students are taking those types of construction jobs. They are getting an education at our colleges and, in some cases, universities, to work either directly or indirectly in the construction industry.

We are looking at ways to further enhance opportunities for those who want to enter the occupation. There are many examples of low-income families working in the industry. I am very pleased with the fact that we have the federal refund tax credit for the Canada workers benefit program. Tens of thousands of Canadians are directly benefiting from that credit. It is significant. An individual receives just over $1,400 and a family unit receives up to $2,400 to assist workers with a lower income.

We can look at the basic tax exemption. I talk about this because taxation policy does matter and does make a difference. The government has looked at the labour mobility tax credit within Bill C-19 and has addressed many of the shortcomings I pointed out in regard to Bill C-241. I had the opportunity to look into what Bill C-241 is proposing, and I would suggest there are too many technical deficiencies. There is an issue of taxation fairness in some of the areas. There is, in fact, a lack of safeguards, as I pointed out. The sponsor of the legislation can maybe sit down with ministers or others and expand on some of those points.

When it comes to apprenticeship programs and ways we can support labour enhancement, the government has been very progressive in trying to deal with that and enhance it. I have been with the Prime Minister in Manitoba on one or two occasions to look at how we can contribute to enhancing trade and labour in the province of Manitoba. We have wonderful organizations out there that are developing programs.

Earlier today we heard the Conservatives finally get on board with the idea of national opportunities for individuals to be recognized in health care professions and have mobility rights across Canada. They refer to it as a “blue seal”. I suspect they are taking that idea in part from the Red Seal program, which is for tradespeople. Whether it is someone international or someone who takes culinary arts to achieve the Red Seal, it has a profoundly positive impact for that individual.

When we look at the construction industry, there is potential growth in that area with regard to getting recognition from a national perspective. The government, through taxation policies, has been there and continues to be there for the construction industry in particular, but also, as I pointed out, for those who are on the low-income scale. Not all construction workers are able to collect the annual money necessary to provide for a full family or even themselves. That is why we have provided the enhancement of the Canada workers benefit program.

I believe it is important that we use our taxation policy as a mechanism to support families and individuals in different situations. One of those situations is looking at ways we can enhance our labour market and support the people who are working so hard to get ahead in life, particularly by upgrading their skills. Apprenticeship programs are an excellent example of that.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

March 21st, 2023 / 5:55 p.m.
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Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C‑241, which seeks to amend the Income Tax Act to allow tradespersons and indentured apprentices to deduct from their income amounts expended for travelling where they were employed in a construction activity at a job site that is located at least 120 kilometres away from their ordinary place of residence.

As the granddaughter of a mason and niece, sister and sister-in-law of carpenters, this is a sector of our economy that I am rather familiar with.

From the outset I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois is voting in favour of Bill C‑241 and I will be talking about it today first from the perspective of the construction industry, then from the perspective of the current economic context and finally in the context of the labour shortage.

First, let us not forget that this is about one of the recommendations from Canada's trade unions that represent more than half a million construction workers in Canada who are members of 14 international unions. These people work in more than 60 trades and professions and generate 6% of the country's gross domestic product.

Salespeople, professionals and various other workers in different sectors can already claim a tax deduction for the cost of their travel, meals and accommodation. It stands to reason that these expenses could be claimed by skilled workers whose job sites are located in a different region or province from their primary residence. It is a question of fairness.

Growth rates and infrastructure investment often vary from one region to the next, and this results in labour shortages. The labour shortage is one of the main impediments to economic recovery. One way to address rising prices is to tackle this shortage.

When expenses are not covered by the employer, workers must pay out of pocket. For workers with a family, additional expenses for travel can be very high and can impede the worker's mobility.

This tax deduction is a concrete and effective means of enhancing the mobility of construction workers.

In addition, according to calculations, this would save the federal government approximately $347 million. Other countries, such as the United States, allow a similar tax deduction for skilled labour under the Internal Revenue Code. These employees can deduct the cost of meals, travel and lodging for temporary work away from their place of residence. This type of measure would promote return to work and address labour shortages at the same time. It would also reduce reliance on government programs, such as employment insurance.

As mentioned earlier, the costs associated with travelling to a job site far from home can impact a worker's decision to accept that contract.

Coming back to inflation, it reached 6.8% in 2022, the highest it has been since 1982, when it hit 10.9%. It bears mentioning, however, that the inflationary surge appears to be coming to an end. After peaking in June at 8.1%, it stabilized for a few months and then fell 0.6% to 6.3% on an annualized basis in December.

Price increases have been uneven. In 12 months, food prices rose 9.8%, gas prices rose 28% and the consumer price index, excluding gas and food, rose 5.3%. Since essentials like housing, food and gas have increased the most, low-income earners have suffered the most.

Two weeks ago, the Bank of Canada announced its eighth rate hike, increasing it to 4.5% from 0.5% a year earlier. Higher interest rates benefit those with savings, but cost those with debt. Young homeowners who bought their first home in the midst of the real estate price boom are likely to have some challenges. Since they are usually the ones who take out variable rate mortgages, they will quickly see rising rates on their mortgage payments.

Inflation is a major concern for consumers and cannot be ignored. A Scotiabank survey conducted in December shows that the rising cost of living tops the list of financial concerns for 50% of Quebeckers.

That is why the Bloc Québécois introduced a bill, in May 2021, to help attract new graduates to the regions and encourage them to stay there. With that in mind, it is important to implement measures that protect the population in general, particularly the most vulnerable, such as seniors. When it comes to seniors, the Bloc Québécois is still calling for the government to increase old age security by $110 a month for all seniors aged 65 and over.

Like all other workers, skilled workers are facing higher costs on everything. I will come back to that. According to a recent poll by Canada's Building Trades Unions, 75% of skilled trades workers agree that a tax deduction will give them access to more job opportunities. With inflation the way it is, the time is right to implement a tax deduction to help ease the pressure on some workers' wallets.

At the top of the list of costs that might stop workers from agreeing to travel far for work is the cost of gas. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed the price of oil to levels not seen in eight years. Even though the price of gas is coming back down, its current volatility and unpredictability are enough to dissuade workers from going too far from home to work. It becomes unfair.

What is more, this tax deduction can certainly help deal with the labour shortage in one sector in particular. The pandemic forced many people out of the labour market for health reasons and it exacerbated the labour shortage in certain sectors. It is important to act quickly to support the sectors that have been hard hit by this labour shortage.

This shortage is a significant impediment to economic recovery. It results in forced closures, the loss of contracts, the cancellation of investments in our businesses and overworked employees. It can even limit opportunities to improve the working conditions of current employees. The pressures related to the shortage of workers will be felt until at least 2030 in Quebec especially because of the aging population. The Bloc Québécois is proposing a suite of measures to alleviate labour shortages across Quebec. In its 2021 spring budget, the government promised to create at least one million jobs. Creating jobs when there is a shortage of workers really makes sense.

The Bloc Québécois was already concerned about the labour shortage. It made some good proposals during the 2021 election campaign. We proposed seven concrete measures to help fix the problem. First we must value experienced workers and increase, from $5,000 to $6,500, the amount of employment or self-employment income that is exempt when calculating the guaranteed income supplement, or GIS. That is in the bill that I introduced last week. I look forward to debating it here in the House with the other parties.

The GIS is intended for people aged 65 and over with relatively low incomes. It complements old age security, but the GIS decreases rapidly as income increases. The first $5,000 earned, however, does not affect GIS amounts. We propose to increase this exemption by $1,500.

The temporary foreign worker program must also be handed over to Quebec. The Bloc Québécois is calling for the program to be repatriated to Quebec, which is in a better position than anyone else to identify the specific labour needs of businesses within its borders.

Another trend that is emerging in Quebec is the digital shift. Businesses are increasing their efforts to accelerate the digital shift. This is one way to increase productivity and get around the problem of the labour shortage. This is another area that needs to be addressed. We need to support and assist SMEs in that shift. It is about competitiveness.

Tax credits for research and development also need to be improved to stimulate innovation. We are also suggesting creating a new tax credit of up to $3,000 per year for recent graduates in the regions, to a maximum cumulative amount of $8,000 for recent graduates working in designated regions.

In closing, I want to present some figures on Quebec's construction industry, which is very lucrative but has labour shortage issues. That is why the Bloc was quick to propose several solutions, because there is no magic bullet for solving the labour shortage. We need to approach the problem from various angles. The importance of Quebec's construction industry cannot be understated. This is as true from an economic point of view as it is from a job creation point of view. We are talking about investments of nearly $53 billion in 2019. We are also talking about 264,600 direct jobs generated per month, on average, or one out of every 20 jobs in Quebec. It also generates thousands of other jobs in other sectors.

To conclude, the Bloc made an intervention through my colleague from Joliette at the Standing Committee on Finance during debate on this bill. My colleague pointed out to the government that, since this is a private member's bill, the government tends not to propose any amendments, particularly in terms of including safeguards for certain provisions and thus reassuring the parties on the interpretation or application of a given bill. In the end, no amendments were proposed, and the bill passed without amendment on division in only about 15 minutes.

I want to say one last thing in closing. As members can see, this bill reflects the current context in which the construction industry is facing many challenges. Given how important this industry is to the economy, we need to look into this problem and help the industry find solutions to the labour shortage. This bill is one of those solutions.

The House resumed from February 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons), be read the third time and passed.