moved for leave to introduce Bill C-280, an act to amend the Income Tax Act with regard to residents of northern or intermediate zones.
Madam Speaker, Haida Gwaii is well known across Canada, not only for its spectacular beauty and the rich culture of the Haida people, but also for its remoteness. To get to Haida Gwaii from Prince Rupert in good weather is a seven-hour ferry ride. It is hard to get any farther west in Canada.
Residents of Haida Gwaii are hardy and resilient. They call the islands home for all kinds of reasons, but cheap groceries is not one of them. In fact, most goods and services cost more on Haida Gwaii than on the mainland. The biggest cost is the ferry or plane trip to Prince Rupert, which many families must take several times per year, whether for medical or dental appointments or for other essential reasons.
The northern residents deduction is a tax deduction meant to offset the high cost of living in Canada's remote communities. It also helps attract skilled workers and promotes economic development. However, the current eligibility criteria for the northern deduction is deeply flawed. Back in the nineties, the federal government decided to change the criteria according to arbitrary lines on a map. The problem is that those lines do not include all of Canada's remote communities that struggle with high costs of living.
When the eligibility criteria changed, Haida Gwaii was downgraded from the northern—