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

Sponsor

Chris Lewis  Conservative

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

Status

Report stage (House), as of Dec. 6, 2022

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

Summary

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.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

June 8, 2022 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons)

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

December 6th, 2022 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-241, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons).

I would like to thank the finance committee clerks, Alexandre Roger and Carine Grand-Jean; legislative clerk, Marie-Hélène Sauvé; analysts, Joëlle Malo and Michaël Lambert-Racine; committee assistant, Lynda Gaudreault; all committee staff; interpreter services; and all members of the finance committee.

December 5th, 2022 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will be incredibly brief.

I just want to, first and foremost, say thank you to each and every person outside of these chambers this evening, both unionized and non-unionized folks, who for well over a year have brought so many suggestions and opportunities to discuss exactly what's needed on the ground for Canadians from coast to coast to coast to not only enforce, but to enhance our skilled trades across the country.

I guess it's about as simple as this: Bill C-241 is a very simple bill. It's black and white. It will help build our country. For those who support it, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of skilled trades.

For those that are on the fence and who think perhaps that some wording should be amended, let's pass this today. Let's get this done. Let's get it back to the House to get it voted as quickly as possible, so that we can build the proper infrastructure for Canada. That's exactly why C-241 is so important.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

December 5th, 2022 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Fonseca

I call this meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 71 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, the committee is meeting to proceed with the clause-by-clause of Bill C-241, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons).

Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of June 23, 2022. Members are attending in person in the room and remotely using the Zoom application.

I would like to make a few comments for the benefit of witnesses and the members.

Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, click on the microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute it when you're not speaking.

For interpretation for those on Zoom, you have the choice at the bottom of your screen of the floor, English or French. For those in the room, you can use the earpiece and select the desired channel.

I would remind you that all comments should be addressed through the chair. For members in the room, if you wish to speak, please raise your hand. For members on Zoom, please use the “raise hand” function. The clerk and I will manage the speaking order as best we can. We appreciate your patience and understanding in this regard.

To help us with the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-241, I would now like to welcome our witnesses. From the Department of Finance, we have Lindsay Gwyer, director general of the tax legislation division at the tax policy branch. With Lindsay is Mark Maxson, the director of employment and education of the personal income tax division at the tax policy branch.

I'll inform all members that the witnesses have been tested for today's meeting. The tests have been passed for their mikes and their sound systems.

We are going to move on to the bill.

(On clause 1)

Shall clause 1 carry?

I see a hand up.

Go ahead, MP Chatel.

November 30th, 2022 / 4:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Fonseca

We are done. Congratulations, members. I'm glad everybody is doing so well.

Members, I want to bring this to your attention: We talked about our next meeting on Monday around Bill C-241. On Wednesday we are looking at fiscal federalism. The clerk has some witnesses from you, but if you want to put forward more witnesses for the clerk to invite.... This would be for next Wednesday's meeting on fiscal federalism.

Is that correct, Mr. Clerk? Perhaps you can let the members know where we are, in terms of witnesses.

November 28th, 2022 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Peter Fonseca

Thank you, MP Blaikie. That does conclude our questions.

We want to thank the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Yves Giroux, and Kristina Grinshpoon. Thank you for your testimony and for the many questions that you answered here for our study.

Members, as I have your attention, the clerk has published a notice of meeting for Wednesday where we will be going over clause-by-clause consideration. If all goes well there on Wednesday, we would then move on Monday to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-241.

Members, I ask that, if you do have any amendments for Bill C-241, can you get those in by Thursday at the noon hour? I think everybody's good with that.

Thank you members. Shall we adjourn?

We're adjourned.

November 22nd, 2022 / 12:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Kirsch.

In the last round of questioning, Mr. O'Rourke mentioned having a major labour shortage specifically to mariners, but we know that to be true across all sectors in all of Canada. Can you expand on or weigh in on mechanics? I realize that it's one thing to have a shortage of pilots, but those same pilots certainly can't fly the planes to do all of the important rescue if we don't have the mechanics.

I have a private member's bill, Bill C-241, coming up here very shortly. It's for travel deductions for skilled trades. Is that something that would help our pilots in the north?

November 14th, 2022 / 4:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Julie Dzerowicz Liberal Davenport, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to say I agree with just about everything that Mr. Blaikie just said. I would rather be spending this meeting actually hearing from witnesses about the fall economic statement. I absolutely agree that we always have a shortage of time in the House, so we always have to really think about how we're spending our time. I want to say a huge thanks to Mr. Blaikie for putting forward his thoughts.

This isn't me trying to stroke your ego or anything; I genuinely appreciate your comments.

I'll be making a few comments as well, and if people feel that we could take a break for a few minutes and maybe try to find some sort of resolution, I would love to do that.

I'm going to start off by agreeing that we put forward a serious fall economic statement. My colleague Yvan Baker has mentioned a number of things that are included in it, whether around the student loans or additional initiatives to help Canadians to buy their first home, or paying the Canada worker benefit more frequently. I'm also a very big supporter of the two per cent tax on shared buybacks. Our business investment in Canada is abysmal; it's about 50% of where the U.S. is at. The C.D. Howe Institute has written about this. They're literally screaming from the top of their lungs to say we have to do more to encourage business investment. Ten years of having historically low interest rates has not produced more investment and research and innovation, and it's done nothing for our wage increases across this country. The fall economic statement has proposed some good measures, and I think those deserve a hearing and a serious consideration.

Another thing that's really important for me is immigration levels. There is a section in the fall economic statement that says:

To support the processing and settlement of new permanent residents to Canada as part of the 2023-25 Immigration Levels Plan the government has committed $1.6 billion over six years and $315 million ongoing in new funding.

I'll tell you, we have a massive labour shortage. I know that we're all talking about the economy slowing down. This is happening not just in Canada but around the world. But I'll tell you, I was listening to a few economists and they were saying that 10 years ago we would have one in seven retirees, so seven workers for every one retiree. We are now at one retiree for every three workers. If we want to continue to have a healthy social welfare system in this country—with child care, health care, EI and pensions—we need to make sure we are replenishing our workforce, and having additional dollars for immigration is a key part of that strategy and an important segment of the fall economic statement.

I also agree with what Mr. Blaikie has said. While it's not something that I think we should get used to, my understanding is that last year at around this time, in 2021—and I was on the finance committee then—we actually did the same thing we're doing right now. We voted on the ways and means motion for the fall economic statement. We started with the prestudies, and that was something, because at that time the Conservatives had encouraged us and said that they wanted to hear from witnesses as soon as possible, and that's exactly what we want to do right now. There is no desire to circumvent any process, to not be transparent, to do any bait and switch, or not to follow some sort of a democratic process.

We're short on time. We are very anxious to try to get as many supports out to Canadians as soon as possible. We've just given 11 million Canadians a doubling of their GST credit. We are trying to finalize—and hopefully the Senate will do it soon—the dental care benefit as well as the housing benefit. Then hopefully the fall economic statement will pass and there will be additional supports for Canadians. We know life is tough for Canadians right now, and we know they need these additional supports. These are targeted, measured, smart supports that have been suggested in the fall economic statement, and the only way we can know whether or not these are good ideas, whether this is a good plan, is if we get to the prestudies, get some witnesses in, and have them provide some feedback on this.

There are a lot of other things I could say about some of the unfortunate comments from the Conservatives.

The Liberals, and I would say our government in general, have supported the middle class right from when we were first elected in 2015, from implementing the Canada child benefit, to lowering the taxes on the middle class to increasing the OAS and the GIS. I could go on and on, but there have been a number of measures. The Conservatives, every single time, did not support those measures. We say it in the House of Commons all the time. We say it in question period all the time. It bears repeating for those who are listening here and who don't usually listen to question period.

I think I'll end here. I think Mr. Blaikie was mentioning that there's some openness in terms of let's get going on the fall economic statement. Then there could be some consideration around moving forward on Bill C-241, as well as moving forward on hearing from our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and from the bank governor.

I'd also say to you that we have pre-budget consultations that I think we also have to make sure we are moving forward on. We do have another budget that's coming up in the spring. We have, I believe, around 700 people who have put in submissions. I know many have asked to sit before us, to stand before us or to speak before us, and I think it's important for us to try to make sure we find some time. That won't happen before Christmas. This is just to say that there are a lot of things fighting for our time.

I 100% agree with Mr. Blaikie, and anyone else around the table who agrees with this, that we should just get going and find a way forward.

Mr. Chair, that's the end of my comments for now.

November 14th, 2022 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you very much for that, Mr. Chair.

I want to come back to the issue at hand, which is how the committee is going to conduct its business over the next several weeks.

However, I thought I might start just by sharing some observations about things that have been said around the table today. I note that one member in particular expressed concern about wasting time, and I'm wondering if people who are watching at home or who will consult the record at some point in the future will feel that we've done a good job of taking to heart any meaningful concern about wasting time. It was my frustration at the end of the last meeting that we didn't come up with a plan for what to do at this meeting, and it's an ongoing frustration that we're sitting around the table blowing off steam, which is not an illegitimate thing to do around Parliament Hill, but it has its time and its place. I'd rather be blowing off steam in the context of a productive study of something and not on a kind of open-ended conversation about what we're going to put on the agenda for subsequent meetings. It seems to me that that's not the level at which we should have intractable disputes around this table.

I'll start by signalling that and saying that I'm anxious for us to come to some kind of conclusion on what the path forward is going to be for the committee because I think we'll be doing more productive work, which will include an exploration of many of the same questions that members have been exploring here today, if we're doing it in the context of a proper study. I note that some members said that the legislation isn't out of the House. That's certainly true. They say that they don't feel ready to undertake a study. I would say, given the number of comments made about the content of the fall economic statement and the legislation that's already been tabled in the House, it seems to me that members around this table are in a pretty good position to start talking about the content of the bill. In fact, they are talking about the content of the bill. My question is this: Why can't we just do that in the context of a study of the bill? Then it would actually count towards our formal study and the conclusions that we will ultimately draw, whatever they may be, about the legislation. We could be doing that, and not only could we be doing that in the context of a formal study, but we could do that with the benefit of having people at the table other than just ourselves, whether those are Department of Finance officials or whether they're stakeholders from Canadian society who have legitimate concerns about the content of the bill. I think we'd be having a better conversation if their input was part and parcel of what we are doing here today, and it could have been if we had come to some kind of agreement sooner about how we want to proceed with the study of the bill.

I accept the frustration that certain members have about the idea of a prestudy. I don't think it's a great habit, but I'll say that, in my experience around this table in this Parliament, we have often been short on time. It has often been a complaint later by the same folks who exhibit reticence to have prestudies that we don't have enough time for fulsome study.

Just so that there aren't any misconceptions, I'm talking specifically about the Conservatives here who don't let debate collapse on certain bills. Then when it comes to committee, we engage in these kinds of long, drawn-out conversations about what we're going to study or whether we're going to study it or whatever, and then there are usually certain deadlines. I would say, particularly when it comes to government legislation around a budget or a fall economic statement, there are market-moving things in those bills that are going to have real consequences. I would say in the case of this bill that we're talking about the pandemic dividend, an increase in the corporate tax rate for financial institutions and the elimination of interest on student loans. Those are things that ought to be in place for the next tax year, and there's a limited amount of time. We're beginning a five-week clock within which that legislation has to be passed or it won't be in place for the following year. Not only will it not be in place for January 1 of the following year, it also won't be in place until well into the next year because Parliament won't sit until the last Monday in January—that's when it will start up again.

So, there is a reasonable time frame there. I think that it behooves committee members to be concerned about it, and that means certain things for the passage of the bill through committee, so it make sense for us to start studying it now.

Here's a little procedural advice for members around the table: It's impossible to amend the content of a bill at second reading, so the concern that somehow the bill could change, not only radically but even just minutely, is unfounded. I hope members will receive that as information about the parliamentary process. There are three types of amendments that you can move at second reading. You can have a hoist amendment, you can have a reasoned amendment and you can have a motion of instruction at committee. Those are the three kinds. None of them change the content of the bill, which was previewed in the ways and means motion on the Friday following the economic statement.

Members who aren't sure where the NDP stands on that will know that we voted in favour of that ways and means motion, which contained an almost identical version of the bill. You have to get approval of the ways and means motion in order to be able to table the legislation. We voted for the ways and means motion. It contained substantially the content of the legislation. Members can expect that the legislation will find its way to this committee table, one way or the other, with the support of the NDP.

To certain members, that appears to be a contradiction. I don't think so at all. It is not a contradiction to support things that you don't think go far enough, or that don't contain things that if you had your own druthers would be in there, when you think there are other good reasons to support it. There are some things we're supporting in there. New Democrats support the share buyback. We support the pandemic dividend. In fact, that was one of the items that was in the supply and confidence agreement. We felt that it was very important that financial institutions that benefited substantially from public funds during the pandemic, something that the Conservative leader loves to talk about, should be made to pay some of that money back. That's what the pandemic dividend is about.

I have been shocked, frankly, at the silence of the Conservative leader on an initiative that is meant to take that very same public money he likes to complain about out of the pockets of financial institutions and deliver it back to Canadians. It's not so that it can go to government largesse—there are real concerns about largesse when it comes to this government—but so that it can go to fund things like the GST rebate. That had all-party support, I might add, and was something for which New Democrats were fighting for a long time. It wasn't clear when Bill C-30 was initially tabled that Conservatives would support it. They finally did, and I appreciate that. That was a good thing. But we also believe you need to have money to pay for it.

I hear Conservatives talk about government getting a lot of money and government largesse. Other times they talk about the fact that the government still has a large deficit and a huge debt. Well, where do you think paying down the deficit is going to come from if it ain't going to come from revenue?

When we're talking about things like the pandemic dividend that directly target the people who got away with more money than they should have in order to bring it back into government coffers that don't have a balanced budget, that's called tackling a problem. It's not called largesse. It's not called socialism. It's not called whatever other kinds of propagandist terms people would like to use. It's good policy. It's about actually figuring out a way to solve the problem instead of trying to complain your way into government without actually proposing any real solutions.

That's why we're willing to support this legislation. It's because we think there are things in there that will actually make a difference. We recognize that this support has to be timely in order for it to make a difference to Canadians, which is why I'm willing to put aside my normal reservations about prestudies and get on with it. I'd like to hear from other people across the country about what they think about that legislation and see if there are opportunities to make it better, with enough time to actually make it better, instead of just complaining more about how we didn't have time to make it better. That's a responsibility of members of this committee in order to be able to get on with it.

With all due respect, it's not the same as private members' bills, which are important. I support a lot of the private members' business coming to this table. But it's not as though, because we're going to engage in a prestudy for a major government bill that involves one of their two basic financial documents for the year, all of a sudden Pandora's box is going to get opened up and we should be prestudying every piece of legislation that comes through the House. It's a different kind of bill with a different kind of consequence and a different kind of timetable.

That's why I'm prepared to support a prestudy at the table. I'm also prepared to do it in a way that offers Conservatives some of what they said they want around this table, including a prompt return to the study of Bill C-241 after we have concluded this business. I do think it's important that this table takes private members' business seriously and does so in the right way. I'm happy to add that to the mix if it means we can get some agreement. I think that would be a very good thing.

I also note that the Conservatives have a motion—it may not yet be formally on notice, but it has been talked about at this table—with respect to inviting the finance minister again and the Governor of the Bank of Canada. I have expressed my willingness to support that. I think that's a good thing.

But this meeting is a meeting where we could have been doing some of that stuff, and I am frustrated that we're having another meeting and we're all chit-chatting about the many things we'd like to do around this table and not doing any of it.

Let's figure out how we move forward. If there's a way to include in the motion returning promptly to Bill C-241, if there is a way to have an agreement that will deal promptly with the motion that the Conservative finance critic has put forward at some point and then scheduling a time to deal with that, that's great, but let's create a package that allows us to have a plan for the next nine meetings that we have between now and Christmas so that we're actually doing work and we're getting these things done.

There is enough time for people to get enough things done that matter to them that I think we can work this out, but we're going to have to do better than we've done today, or we're going to burn another meeting on Wednesday, and all the more the shame. It will be hard to take people seriously when they're complaining about how fast things are moving and how little time they've had when we've burned up two meetings talking about how to schedule meetings. It's ridiculous.

That's where I'm at. Those are standing offers. I hope that people around the table will take me up on them and that we'll find a resolution today so that we can do real work on Wednesday, because I tell you, if I show up on Wednesday and we're doing more of this, my mood is going to continue to degenerate, and it ain't going to be fun, not for me and not for anybody else.

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Another characteristic in the table here is the nature of the eligible expenses. Under the current provision, eligible temporary relocation expenses include—I think these were mentioned—transportation expenses of one round trip, meals during the round trip and temporary lodging, and under Bill C-241 it is expenses incurred for travelling to and from the job site.

Again, what would be the practical difference? Is it that under Bill C-241 you could have a job that's relatively far from home but still within commuting range and you could deduct some of those expenses?

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you very much.

I just want to continue on down the table here.

When we talk about the distance calculation under the two laws, there are some additional conditions for what's currently in the statute, including relocation to a temporary work location, being away from your ordinary residence for at least 36 hours and residence at a temporary lodging.

Again, I'm thinking about somebody who's working on a project in Portage la Prairie, say, who is commuting daily out of Winnipeg. They're travelling over 120 or even over 150 kilometres from their home in order to do to a job. The Roquette pea plant was a big job in the Portage la Prairie area for a while. I know a number of guys who were working on that job for a couple of years. Under Bill C-241, they would have been allowed to deduct those expenses to travel to that site, but under the current statute they would not because they would not be away from their home for 36 hours and they're not residing in temporary lodging? Is that a fair characterization of the difference between the two proposals?

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Director General, Legislation, Tax Legislation Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Lindsay Gwyer

I'll start with the point on double deductions. Both deductions would, as I mentioned earlier, apply in very similar circumstances. There are restrictions on both with respect to what can be deducted and with respect to what has been deducted under other provisions of the Income Tax Act, so the same expense would not be able to be deducted under both of the deductions.

In terms of being able to go and travel abroad, as I mentioned there's no restriction in Bill C-241 as to where the workplace needs to be located. Bill C-19, the existing law, does require that the work location be in Canada. That's there to address the issue of someone going to work in another country and claiming the deduction.

Then on the last point, the existing law sets out specifically what travel expenses would be acceptable: the travel expenses relating to one round trip, so costs of a flight or of gas or of whatever means by which the commuting is done; the cost of meals incurred on that round trip; and then, potentially, temporary lodging if the person maintains their existing lodging in their ordinary place of residence.

Those are the ways those concerns are addressed through the deduction that was passed in Bill C-19.

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will begin by reiterating my full confidence in the way you are managing this committee.

In the first hour of debate, our esteemed colleague Sophie Chatel raised a number of concerns about this bill. As I said earlier, our goal here, all of us together, is to improve the bill and to make sure that it fulfils its objectives. I wanted to check with you to see if you had any comments on that.

Among the points raised, our colleague said that if Bill C‑241 were to be passed, there would be a double deduction, given that Bill C‑19 has already been passed. We know this and we need to find a solution to this problem.

She also said that a worker could claim expenses for travel to the United States if they go there to work. I would like to hear your comments on this. If we wanted to limit this type of expense in the event that a person went to work abroad, how could we proceed? Again, if you don't have an answer immediately, you can provide one in writing to the committee.

Also, the Income Tax Act states that if a supervisor gives an allowance for a worker's travel, they cannot claim those travel expenses. However, what if it is not an allowance, but some other form of expense payment? Do you think this could open the door to some abuse? If so, how could the bill be improved to avoid such abuses?

November 2nd, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Lewis Conservative Essex, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses here. I appreciate it. I have just a few questions.

In my testimony, I mentioned that CBTU did a study—commissioned a financial projection—which estimates that Canada-wide implementation of a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction would save the federal government an estimated $347 million annually.

Subsequently, Bill C-222 was introduced—or perhaps it wasn't even introduced. This is Mr. Green's bill. The Parliamentary Budget Officer issued a legislative costing note on Bill C-222, which is very similar to Bill C-241, on April 5, 2022, estimating the cost of this measure. In 2022-23 it's $117 million, and its five-year cost is $522 million.

Does it not make sense to keep the money in the pockets of the skilled trades workers if the government's going to rake in $347 million and it's only going to cost them $117 million a year?

Mr. Maxson.

November 2nd, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context

NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Is Bill C-241 any different in that respect or would it likely operate in the same way?

November 2nd, 2022 / 6 p.m.
See context

Director, Employment and Education, Personal Income Tax Division, Tax Policy Branch, Department of Finance

Mark Maxson

This is again a place where the CRA would have to ultimately interpret the language, but one possible implication is that the language under the existing deduction is explicitly intended to say that you moved closer to the work site. You found temporary lodging that was closer to the work site than your home was. In Bill C-241, if the work site is at least 120 km away from where you live, travel to and from the work site is deductible.

It's unclear to me whether this means that, if you have lodging near the work site, you can deduct your commuting expenses back and forth from your temporary lodging to that work site. That might be 15 kilometres, because that work site is 120 km away from your home. I don't know if that's the intention or not, but that would be one possible difference. The existing deduction is only for travel between your home and the work site.