Madam Speaker, I stand today on behalf of our finance critic, the hon. member for Kings—Hants. I know that he has spoken passionately on this issue. We support Bill C-205, which would amend the Income Tax Act to allow the deduction of expenses incurred by a mechanic for tools required in employment.
The tax system is very unfair to mechanics. As we well know, many professionals can deduct the cost of the tools required to perform their work. One of the exceptions is mechanics.
Mechanics are being supported by members on this side of the House as well as by many members on the other side of the House.
This issue has been around for a long time. Ten years ago, when I was sitting on that side of the House, I was approached by mechanics. It was waved in front of the government then. Much to my displeasure, the government which I represented at that time did not give this issue the attention it deserved. It is time the government did.
The politics of this issue are the politics of governing. Governments are very reluctant to introduce tax measures which would appear to cost the government revenue. Most of us would argue that is not the case. If the economy is to grow and if we are encouraging people to work, they must have some breaks along the way.
It is interesting to note that representatives of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association support this move. They appeared before the finance committee on behalf of mechanics to seek tax deductibility of technicians' tools. They have appeared before the committee many times. Since 1992 they have been onside. They made this public and appeared before the finance committee for the first time in 1992.
The committee stated in its 1997 pre-budget report:
The Committee recommends that the government provide targeted tax relief for all those who must bear large expenses as a condition of employment, such as is the case with mechanic's tools.
In its 1996 pre-budget report the committee stated:
The Committee recommends that the Government consider measures to provide targeted tax relief for large expenses incurred as a condition of employment, such as mechanic's tools.
Basically it is saying the same thing.
The finance committee, which is an all parliamentary committee, supports the request.
There are over 115,000 mechanics in this country who could benefit from such a measure; the measure being tax relief for those who have to buy their tools in order to work. The average mechanic spends approximately $15,000 on tools once they have received their training just to begin working in the profession. Some invest up to $40,000.
As we well know, mechanics need to replace worn out equipment, and they must replace it at great expense.
The interesting statistic, from the point of view of public sympathy, is that the average wage of a mechanic is only $29,000 per annum. What would be the cost to the Government of Canada if it were to do this?
The cost would not be high in the grant scheme of things, but it would send a signal to our young professionals, and mechanics are professionals and that we care about them, that we think their services are important. They should be able to deduct the cost of their tools as many other professional people can. This is a case of fairness, and we want to see that fairness exercised by the government of the day.
Leaving politics behind, I remind the House that this issue has been before the House for at least 10 years. Given the fact that the all party parliamentary committee and automobile dealers across the country can agree, surely to goodness the Government of Canada can do something to give our mechanics the tax relief they deserve.