Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill presented by my friend and colleague from Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans.
As my colleague has pointed out in his press releases, as well as in his speeches, this is a non-partisan bill. Too often in this House we have to debate bills on which our party line obliges us to take a given position rather than another. Here, we are dealing with a bill that directly affects taxpayers, their budgets and their wallets or purses. It affects Quebecers, and it affects Canadians, equally.
The bill in question is Bill C-205, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of expenses incurred by a mechanic for tools required in employment).
I will read the summary of the bill for the information of our audience as well as those MPs who have not yet reached a decision and who will, we hope, be favourable in a vote free of party lines—this not being a highly controversial subject:
The purpose of this enactment is to permit mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment if they are required to do so by the terms of the employment. The deduction encompasses maintenance, rental and insurance costs, the full cost of tools under $250 or such inflation-adjusted limit as is set by regulation, and the capital cost allowance of tools over $250, set by regulation.
Some will say “Yes, but mechanics will be able pull a fast one”. First, who is a mechanic? Are all of those who tinker a bit with their cars in their garage mechanics? Are those of us who can do a bit of maintenance on our cars from time to time mechanics? Is this going to be a bit difficult to manage?
Not really, because a precedent exists in the federal government's Income Tax Act. My colleague, the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, is not proposing to create a precedent in the Income Tax Act. A precedent exists in the case of forest workers, musicians, doctors, dentists and certain businesses.
Today, a young person decides to become a mechanic—a trade in which there is a shortage at the moment, but one that is vital to Quebec and Canada where the number of family cars keeps growing and maintenance is necessary for environmental and financial reasons. They decide after finishing technical training or high school to go and work as a mechanic in a garage. The day after earning their diploma they have to pay out somewhere between $15,000 and $40,000 in order to practice their trade.
Very few young people have between $15,000 and $40,000 to spend on equipment for their work. However, as a musician or a dentist, I can buy equipment, and the government will give me a tax credit when I buy the equipment I need for my work. As a mechanic, I cannot. Often these young people, and the not so young, are asked to spend considerable amounts in order to be able to do their work.
So, in terms of the complexity of applying the law, there is already a precedent. In financial terms, do we have the money? How much will it cost and do we have the funds to enable these young and not so young people to exercise their profession and to get tax relief?
We have been told, to the thunderous applause of the Liberal Party, that there will be a $95 billion surplus for the next five years. If we have such surpluses, we should not spend all our time debating bills on endangered species, not because such bills are not important, but because we must also deal with other issues and take concrete measures for people in our communities. As I said earlier, a bill such as this one can have a direct bearing on people in our ridings.
The funds are available. In fact, the Minister of Industry even wanted to use it in a preposterous fashion by offering owners of professional hockey teams financial compensation to help them remain in Canada, to help them increase their share of the market. The minister's idea was so ludicrous that, for the first time, we saw a minister backtrack within 24 or 48 hours and withdraw his bill.
There are funds available in the government's coffers and they must be appropriately invested, spent and earmarked.
Bill C-205 would allow each and every member of this House to do something concrete for an important group of workers in their communities, regions, ridings and cities, particularly since these workers are often not among the most well-off. The average hourly rate for mechanics is around $15 an hour. This may come as a surprise, since it often costs us a little more than that when we bring in our vehicle for repairs. Still, the hourly rate for mechanics is around $15 an hour.
This is a bill which, and this is rare, would show the public the concrete nature of our work in this place. The public would see that we do not only ponder abstract concepts, as it often believes is the case, but that we also make decisions which, as was the case with forestry workers, doctors, dentists and musicians, have a direct and personal impact on people. I hope that the party line will not come into play regarding this issue—although I do not know whether or not this will be the case.
The member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans has asked that the division be deferred until tomorrow evening. I hope that on something such as this, which does not involve sovereignty or federalism, whether of Quebec or of Canada, or globalization or any other such matter, but is nothing more than an attempt to help honest folk enter the job market or prosper there, we will not see party lines imposed on certain parties and have unanimous voting against this non-partisan bill. Naturally, if members were to vote unanimously in favour of this bill, there would be no problem.
Passage of Bill C-205 would encourage the creation of jobs in the automobile industry. It is clear from the number of high school graduates, especially in trades programs, that there is a serious shortage in this sector right now. Passing this bill is one way of helping this important sector of economic activity.
With the prospect of a tax break, young people might be more tempted to go into automobile mechanics.
Several Bloc Quebecois members attended a reception hosted by the National Automotive Trades Association of Canada and, to our great surprise, we were, if I am not mistaken, the only party represented at this event, which was intended to bring this issue home to MPs, who hold the fate of the bill in their hands.
I urge members to support this bill. I invite those who did not attend this information session on the various aspects of such legislation and hear the arguments put forward by the association to take a hard look at the bill and its implications for their respective communities before voting, I hope, in favour of the bill.