Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-205, an act to amend the Income Tax Act. It is time this House reached a final decision in order to help out the mechanics of this country, the workers, by reducing their expenses when they start working.
To begin a career as a mechanic, a person has to go to trade school, to community college, in order to learn his trade. He graduates with a debt load. Then, when he arrives at his first job, the first thing he needs is a tool set. He needs a great many tools to do his job; otherwise he will not be hired.
People who are starting up a new company meet with government representatives and tell them “We are prepared to create x number of jobs”. As hon. members are aware, this involves the transitional fund or some other such fund. Mention of this brings out some nervous smiles in the House, but transitional funds are necessary tools for economic development.
It is the same thing here. A mechanic who wants to work needs a tool box and tools, and these are very expensive. It would not be the end of the world if a mechanic were entitled to a tax reduction. For example, a woodsman who needs a chain saw in the spring in order to go out and work in the bush can get an income tax reduction for it.
Mechanics are getting it on all sides. We have seen how much this all costs. We are talking several thousands. I know, because I have worked with mechanics myself, and they were constantly having to purchase tools. When we changed from the British system of weights and measures to the metric system, two types of tools were needed, doubling the costs. Because of changes in Canada, it cost them double.
Mechanics have asked me “Why are we as workers not entitled to a tax credit for our tools? We pay taxes when we work. If we need a tool for our work, why are we not entitled to tax relief?” When companies have costs, they get tax breaks. Workers pay their taxes but want help with the cost of their tools, because they are expensive.
I am going to tell members about an experience I had last week. I took my car to the dealer's for repairs. Two days ago, we found two of their tools in the car as we were washing it. We know where our car was, so we will return the tools to the mechanic.
How often, however, with the number of tools they use in repairing people's cars, do mechanics leave their tools in cars, not because they want to leave them there of course, but because there are a lot of tools and a person can forget them. Someone working on an engine can forget a tool. That costs a lot.
These are not once in a lifetime purchases. A person does not just buy a wrench to use forevermore. Regularly during the year other tools have to be bought. They have to be bought all the time, because they get lost or are not the right tools.
I think we will always need mechanics. I have a car, I am sure you have a car, Madam Speaker, everyone has a car. If we are going to help the mechanics we need in this country, this would be the way to go about it.
We are not asking for reductions on the price of their tools, but that the government at least give them tax deductions. It is normal for certain trades to get tax deductions. For example, fishers are entitled to certain deductions.
Tools cost a lot of money, and mechanics lose many through no fault of theirs. Let me give you the example of mechanics who work underground, in mines. There is rock, water and mud. They sometimes lose tools without even noticing it. They will never see these tools again. Each year, these mechanics lose many tools like that.
There was also the conversion to the metric system. For our mechanics—I am repeating myself, but it is important to stress that point—that change means that their costs have doubled, since they now need two sets of tools: one for the British system and another for the metric system.
We are talking about people who must spend between $10,000 and $15,000 for their tools, depending on what type they need. Mechanics need these tools, otherwise they cannot work. Nowadays, companies that get started do not say “we will hire people and pay for their tools”. It is a known fact that, in Canada, mechanics must pay for their own tools.
Our party will certainly support this bill. There are mechanics in every riding represented in this House, whether it is by Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, Conservative, NDP or Canadian Alliance members. Service stations, mines or industry—they all have mechanics.
As the Canadian Alliance member said earlier, thousands of people have signed petitions calling for a tax break for mechanics. The government has surpluses right now. It is time to help workers in this sector.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no need to worry about companies. If something breaks or they need new equipment, sometimes they do not even have to ask for help because the government is only too quick to suggest one of its programs. I do not know whether public servants need to hang on to their jobs, but they are going after these companies and telling them: “We have one program here and another there. We will work on this program and we will be able to help you”.
We support the Bloc Quebecois member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans. His bill is truly important because it concerns a problem affecting all of Canada. There are mechanics everywhere. These are not isolated jobs in one part of the country. They are everywhere.
It is important that government members, and all members, regardless of their party affiliation, take a stand and do the right thing, in order to show that we believe in our workers and that we can help them.
Young graduates have had to spend a lot on their training. Many of them work in service stations at minimum wage. They work for $5.75 an hour. In some provinces, they work for $7, $8, or $10 an hour until they get their mechanic's licence, and that takes four years. But while waiting to get their licence, they need their tools.
Once again, I urge members to vote tomorrow evening in favour of the bill introduced by the Bloc Quebecois member, because it is important for our Canadian mechanics.