Mr. Speaker, this situation that exists throughout Quebec is of great concern to me. I hear about it particularly in my riding, because I often come across mechanics in restaurants or garages and they tell me about this injustice done to them. They are not allowed any deductions from their taxable income for the tools they are required to buy to practice their trade.
Knowing that other tradesmen have access to such a deduction, we can see that the government encourages inequities and has tremendous difficulty taking action to contribute to the advancement of Quebec society.
In the report that was prepared following the December 1997 prebudget consultations in which I took part, it was recognized that the need was there. The public was asking that legislation be passed quickly to allow mechanics to deduct the cost of the tools they are required to buy.
Today is March 30, 2000, almost three years later, and yet nothing has been done. This goes to show once again that this government waits and then waits some more, and drags its feet on issues that penalize people. In this case, it is mechanics.
I am very pleased to support the bill introduced by my colleague, the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans. I also thank all the members of the opposition who listened carefully to the demands of the Bloc Quebecois and who support this bill, which will hopefully find some support among federal Liberals.
This is the second time that I speak to this important bill. When we made similar demands in June 1999, there was talk about a government surplus of several billion dollars. That was what the Minister of Finance was hinting at.
Now that the Minister of Finance has a budget surplus of tens of thousands of dollars, although it is still hard to find out the real figures, hard to be really informed about the Canadian economic reality, he ought to accede to what is being called for in Bill C-205.
This bill defends principles in which I believe strongly. I will tell hon. members what the objectives and principles are that must be obtained in this legislation.
First of all, mechanics must be given fair treatment as far as taxation is concerned, on an equal footing with farmers, and in harmony with that already afforded to chain saw operators, artists and musicians.
Secondly, this bill is aimed at lessening the financial burden on mechanics imposed by the requirement to purchase their own tools, and very costly ones.
Just think of the young mechanic, fresh out of school, and often with a student loan, having to purchase thousands of dollars worth of tools in order to get a job. After working for a year, he is not even entitled to a tax deduction for the new tools he has acquired. As far as I am concerned, this is social injustice.
Now, moving on to another of the objectives I support. This bill offers a remedy for the serious shortage of workers in automobile-related fields. We know that it is getting harder and harder to recruit mechanics, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and the like.
In my region, in the RCM de l'Érable, the LDB is doing a lot of promotion to try to find 300 people who could immediately get work in business in Plessisville, Princeville and Lyster.
I also learned that the same situation prevails at the other end of my riding, namely in Laurier-Station and Saint-Apollinaire, where plants are also looking for people who are able to work.
If the government does not make the necessary efforts to prepare for the future, to help our young people, how can we ensure the viability of a region such as Lotbinière and that of all the regions of Quebec?
The problem described in Bill C-205 is one of a number of factors which, year after year, significantly affect our regions. Unfortunately, people are constantly leaving the regions. Think of all the efforts made by our ancestors, by the pioneers, all their collective achievements, all their hard work. Because of actions such as those of the federal government, the foundations that helped build the Quebec society are being eroded.
It is time to wake up and take charge. Each of Quebec's region has its own wealth, its own beauty, its own features. In each of these regions, there are motorists, people who use their cars or their trucks. There is pride in having local mechanics in each municipality.
I do not want to wax nostalgic, but 25 years ago, in rural villages, there were essential elements that promoted mutual support and supported the local economy. There was the general store, the local mechanic, a small restaurant, the caisse populaire, the elementary and secondary schools and the church.
Today we realize that most of the small garages in each of the towns have disappeared. Why? Because no measures or laws have been established to ensure some sort of continuity. What does this situation lead to? Gradually, people leave these villages to go and live in larger centres and must give up the heritage that is important to them.
It is high time that the federal government, through its rural and regional development policies, paid attention to this ever more desperate situation throughout Quebec. Today, it is the mechanics. Tomorrow it will be the electricians. Unfortunately, unless something is done, we will see that the major centres in each region and riding will be only ones to have survived.
I encourage all federal Liberals in Quebec and across Canada to join with my colleague, to be part of the support given us by the opposition parties—the Progressive Conservatives, the Canadian Alliance and the NDP—in recognizing that there is a desperate need.
It is urgent that the situation be resolved, in order to correct once and for all this injustice, which is befalling important people, the mechanics. We are proud of them and must keep them. We must support their efforts to work and continue to build with us the rural and regional communities of Quebec.