May 28, 2001


The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-222, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction of expenses incurred by a mechanic for tools required in employment), be read the second time and referred to a committee.


BQ

Ghislain Lebel

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to this private member's bill from the hon. member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans.

The purpose of the bill is to make the cost of tools deductible from a mechanic's or auto worker's income. I approve of it 100% for this is a matter of fairness, in my opinion.

All professionals, for example health professionals such as dentists and physicians, like the hon. colleague over there, who is a well-known West Island doctor, have always been able to deduct every year from their income, or depreciate to some extent, their equipment and everything used in their practice. The expenses incurred for this equipment or these tools may therefore be deducted from the income derived from their professional practice.

Unfortunately, that possibility is not available to professionals in the automotive field, those whose livelihood depends on their practising their trade.

In a former life I spent a good 15 years as a mechanic for a mining company on the North Shore, at Sept-Îles. Although that was as long ago as 1972 or 1973, I remember a simple pound and a half hammer, about 1,600 grams in today's metric terms, cost about $24 or $25 each at the time, and that was nearly 30 years ago.

Anyone working as a mechanic knows how easy it is to lose or damage a tool or even break it and have to replace it. None of this can be deducted from the worker's income, and I find that terribly unfair.

There is another aspect to the bill that I question. This would be an incentive to young people graduating from technical schools, from motor mechanics' training, for example. This would be an incentive to entering the trade.

Whether young people are studying philosophy or motor mechanics, they run into unavoidable costs such the costs of food and housing for the period they are taking their training and all of that.

While the profession may be less noble than that of law or medicine or some other career, these people need to eat. They generally run up a debt like all the other students in the various professions. They come out of technical school or Cegep vocational training with just as much debt as those graduating from the same level in the academic course and heading toward the priesthood or some other field.

These people have a lot of debts. Unfortunately, auto mechanics do not earn as much as my colleague opposite, to whom I referred earlier, as an eminent medical practitioner. These workers face major expenses when they buy their professional material, yet they cannot deduct these costs.

Finally, this deduction would be an incentive in that it would encourage young people to become automotive mechanics.

In the early sixties, with the quiet revolution in Quebec—but the same is also true for the other provinces—education became free under the social programs that were put in place. People used terms such as “universal” and “free” anyway. Education was for everyone. Anyone who wanted to get an education could have access to training, right up to and including the university level.

The result was that we ended up with large numbers of philosophers, lawyers, notaries, medical doctors and geologists. People shifted away from traditional occupations. Now, after 30 or 40 years of this somewhat easier access to higher education, we realize that we have moved away significantly from traditional occupations. There are shortages in certain trades, including plumbing, worksite mechanics and automotive mechanics where, unfortunately, salaries are not very high.

In the case of automotive mechanics, a lot of additional training is required outside working hours and is not paid. This includes all the new car models and all the electronic systems that are now an integral part of automotive mechanics. Generally speaking, those who want to do well, who want to take a step further and upgrade their skills must do so during their spare time, in the evening or on weekends, at a college or even a university, without being paid for their efforts.

They may also have to learn things in the electrical field, since this is now a major component of automotive mechanics. Indeed, the mechanical and electrical fields often complement each other for the greater benefit of automobile owners.

These people make a huge personal contribution and they take their own work performance very seriously. In my opinion, the least we could do would be to make the costs of providing tools required to pursue such of a career—often a lifelong one—deductible or depreciable under a provision that it will be up to Revenue Canada to establish. At the very least, there should be a kind of yearly tax depreciation which could be scaled over not too long a period, perhaps two or three years, in order to reduce the fiscal cost of providing the tools required for employment.

In my opinion, given his good nature, if the minister feels able to do it and if he is committed to make these professions or trades accessible, he could not only apply that new provision to auto mechanics but extend it also to worksite mechanics or electricians.

A Snap-On tool like an 8-inch screwdriver costs $20. When it touches a contact a spark can result. That will wreck the tip of the screwdriver and there goes $20, perhaps one-quarter of the electrician's or mechanic's daily pay. If he touches two wires with the tip of the screwdriver, his salary for a quarter of his day's work is already gone. This is if he did not get a ticket for parking on the street in front of his employer's building. At that point, he would have nothing left.

I believe this is a tax equity concern. A credible government must respond to the expectations of all its citizens, of all those who ply a trade, often much more to the benefit of the government than their own. These people pay taxes. We know our tax system. It is not on a straight line but on a rising curve.

There is reason for concern. This should have been done a long time ago. Under the bill of the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, we must at all costs allow these mechanics to deduct from their income the amounts required to buy a tool kit that is essential for their trade.

I implore the Minister of Finance to agree to the request of my colleague from Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans and to have a little compassion for those who, unfortunately, were not lucky enough to become a finance minister.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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CA

Joe Peschisolido

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Joe Peschisolido (Richmond, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to Bill C-222.

I would like to tell a story about my growing up in Toronto. My father was a labourer who worked very hard as a painter. His tools were very important to him because they were very expensive and they were his key to advancing in Canada. I can therefore relate to mechanics and to individuals who want to move ahead for themselves and for their children.

I must admit that I am somewhat surprised by the government's reaction to this private member's bill. The government talks about upward mobility and fairness. It talks about educating and training our citizens for the future. Here is a very simple, cost effective and equitable way of doing just that.

We have a situation where mechanics because of their jobs are forced to buy tools. This is a condition of their employment. It seems common sense to me and basic that these individuals are acting like business people. Yes, they are on an employment contract but they are acting as entrepreneurs.

In our tax code we put forth certain elements to deal with the situation. Members on the other side have argued that it is an employment contract. However I point to other sections of the tax code that deal with musicians, loggers or chain saw operators where this type of provision is there to take into account their situation.

I know mechanics in my riding of Richmond who have had to spend $40,000 to $50,000 to get tools for their trade. The bill makes sense, particularly at a time when Canada needs trained mechanics and blue collar workers. I read in a report the other day that there is a shortage of over 60,000 workers in this field alone.

Perhaps this is not the ideal way of dealing with the problem. However it is a reaction to a Liberal government that deals with the rhetoric of upward mobility and education of the workforce but which, when it comes to dealing with concrete situations, does not act.

There is a small, family run automotive parts business in my riding. It has six or seven mechanics. They would love to hire more individuals but they simply cannot find skilled, trained people to hire. Hiring new people would have an impact on the economy. I am not an economist, but I believe there are similar situations across the country.

My colleague from Quebec has talked about situations he knows of personally. I urge all members in the House to go beyond party affiliations and look at the merits of the bill. The bill does not deal with professionals who are making $200,000 to $300,000. It does not deal with individuals who have access to lobbyists. There will not be many wine and cheese parties to discuss this type of thing. The individuals the bill will affect are the backbone of our country. They are the small, middle class people trying to move up.

I am speaking passionately on the issue because it touches me. My parents came here from Italy with nothing. They used this type of work to move up the ladder that I call the Canadian dream. At the end of the day, when we vote as a House, I urge all members to look at the merits of the case and vote positively for it.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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LIB

Claude Duplain

Liberal

Mr. Claude Duplain (Portneuf, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first I wish to inform the hon. member for Chambly, who referred to mechanics as a less noble trade, that this trade is as noble as any other. In my opinion, it is a very important trade.

This private member's bill would amend the Income Tax Act to help mechanics pay for the cost of providing tools for their employment if they are required to do so under the terms of their employment.

This enactment would permit mechanics to deduct purchase, rental, insurance and maintenance costs of their of tools. Mechanics would benefit from a tax deduction applying on the cost of tools under $250. This amount could be adjusted for inflation. The cost of tools exceeding this amount would be subject to a kind of capital cost allowance, which would be set by special regulation.

The Government of Canada understands the situation that this bill aims to solve. We are aware that tool costs can be significant, particularly at the start of a career.

Because of that, I am happy to say that there is merit in the idea behind the private member's bill and I wish to congratulate the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans for his dedication and perseverance. However, I must also point out that this bill ignores some very important issues, such as the need to ensure that our fiscal system remains fair.

Financial aid to one particular group of employees can be justified only if those employees have to spend substantially more that others.

Mechanics do not form an homogenous group. There are many types of mechanics. Members need just think about the car maintenance technicians and all those specialists who repair brakes, transmissions, radiators and fuel injection systems; the members know what I am talking about. There are also the bus and truck mechanics and even the automotive body repairers.

However, it is at this point that I begin to have some doubts. What about the aviation mechanics or heavy machinery mechanics who repair the large vehicles used in forestry, mining and construction? Do they have to spend large sums for the purchase of their tools?

If we must give a tax break, it should be given to the appropriate persons, to those who must incur employment related expenses substantially higher than those of the others. The persons I have just mentioned are all mechanics. However, they do not all have the same expenses.

We are faced with a problem. If we grant a tax benefit to all mechanics, we will find out that some mechanics do not incur major expenses whereas some others do. For some of them, the expenses are comparable to those of carpenters or plumbers, for example. Why, then, should the member make a distinction that would amount to discrimination against other trades, and why should the same tax break not be granted to all? How could we explain to many other employees that this tax measure is for mechanics only, even if they incur similar costs in their job?

Why not extend this measure to all employees? We have to recognize that this would be very costly, potentially over $1 billion. It would limit the government's capacity to grant tax cuts to all taxpayers.

Besides, it would be difficult to ensure that the expenses are effectively incurred for employment purposes. Many items can be used for personal as well as professional purposes, like computers, software and cell phones. A tax deduction for employment expenses for all taxpayers does not seem to be advisable.

If we do have a tax break, we believe it should be only for taxpayers who incur exceptionally high employment related expenses, especially when compared to their income. Is this really the case for mechanics?

For example, let us take a mechanic who already has his tools. How much should he spend to maintain and upgrade these tools? A survey by the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council shows that the average expense is about $1,500 annually. Some spend more and some spend less. It is reasonable to think that many other employees have employment related costs similar to those of mechanics.

Now, is there any reason to believe that these expenses are a heavier burden for mechanics than for other workers? The members of the House know full well that mechanics are not rich. However, mechanics make a better living that other workers. Let us try to put them in the proper perspective.

In 1996, when the last census was taken, the average annual wage of an automotive service technician was approximately $38,000. The same year, the average wage of a university graduate was slighter higher than $42,000. Workers with no university diploma earned, on average, $26,000.

Therefore, the situation of mechanics is good compared to the national average. And their situation is also good compared to many other trades such as bricklaying and woodworking, where the average annual wage is approximately $34,000.

It would not appear that, as a whole, mechanics form a group that incurs employment related expenses that are substantially higher, in proportion to their income, than those incurred by other workers.

This brings me to another point. When we recently debated a similar bill, I was astonished to hear all members, except for one, talk about the effect that the cost of tools is having on all the mechanic apprentices entering into the trade.

For many years, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada has made a priority of the recognition for tax purposes of expenses incurred by mechanic apprentices. According to the association, the cost of tools represents a barrier to the recruitment of mechanic apprentices. I would like to take a few moments to address this position and, more particularly, the proportion of their income mechanic apprentices spend on tools.

I guess the first question is, how much does it cost for a starter toolbox and tools? Well, the CARS council says it can cost between $3,000 and $4,000. This is just the basic starter kit. The apprentice would add more tools as he or she progressed through the apprenticeship program.

During a typical four year apprenticeship, it would not be unheard of to spend $15,000 and sometimes more. And so let us compare that to what they earn. The average annual income is about $20,000.

It would certainly be a challenge for a mechanic apprentice to buy $3,000 worth of tools on an annual income of $20,000. In some cases the costs might even make someone think twice before going into this line of work, as industry representatives have said.

In conclusion, the bill before us today has some laudable goals, but it also has some significant shortcomings. It does not take into account the different circumstances of various kinds of mechanics.

At one level, we have apprentices who pay somewhere around $3,000 a year for tools, on an annual salary of $20,000. And we have mechanics spending around $1,500 a year on tools, but making a great deal more. The bill fails to distinguish between those who can reasonably afford to cover tool costs and those who might really need some help.

The tax relief proposed in this bill needs to be better targeted. I therefore urge members of this House not to support it.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay (Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, PC)

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise to speak to the bill and I want to congratulate the Bloc member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans.

The particular bill is one that I think can be described as being very straightforward and common sense in its approach to assisting a segment of our economy, mechanics specifically, that works extremely hard and is looking for a simple incentive, some signal on the part of the government that its contribution is valued and is recognized through tax relief. It is to permit mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment if they are required to do so.

It is not as if mechanics have a choice in the matter in terms of getting by without tools. It is aimed specifically at mechanics who cannot benefit from either borrowed tools or tools that are owned by their employers and are required as a condition precedent to purchase tools.

Many tools of the trade are extremely expensive, which can be quite a deterrent to individuals trying to enter the particular trade. The bill is aimed specifically at offering those individuals who have made a career choice some relief to enter into this chosen profession. I commend the hon. member for bringing forward the matter.

Like many motions and bills in the House, this bill has been debated in the Chamber on numerous occasions, and quite ironically has seemingly received broad support. Yet my fear, and I am sure the hon. member's fear, is that when it comes to a vote the government will not support this bill. We got the inkling from the previous member's words that the government was not inclined to support this legislation.

On the other hand, our party has brought forward similar motions and will support this legislation. That comes as a result of having spoken to many individuals involved in the actual trade who are looking for such relief and are looking to parliament to show some leadership, vision and originality when it comes to offering tax relief to those who are most in need.

Specifically, I met with numerous mechanics in my constituency of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. At their request, I brought this very issue to the attention of the current finance minister. Unfortunately, after doing so on their behalf, the Minister of Finance indicated that there was really little that could be done and little that he and his department were willing to offer as relief for those who found themselves in a position where in certain instances they were required to shell out anywhere in the range of $15,000 to $40,000 as a start-up cost to entering the trade of being a mechanic. This is at time when the average mechanic's salary, as I am told and the statistics seem to support, is in the range of $29,000.

Given the high level of technology that is involved now with mechanics, there are occasions where they will in essence be required to, somehow through a mortgage, or a loan or otherwise, shell out more money than they are actually taking in in their first year. This presents a significant hurdle as well as a disincentive for those who wish to enter into the profession.

It is difficult, as in many instances in many trades, to attract new persons who want to get involved in automotive repair and other types of repair. This industry has seen a decline in those who go to trade school and attend community colleges, like the very impressive and ever improving Nova Scotia Community College. Enrolment in some of these areas is actually down as a result of this outlay of capital required to get into the working field.

I would hasten to add that it also contributes to this increase in brain drain. We are seeing attractive, young, hardworking, talented, motivated individuals lured south of the border by the promise of better taxation and higher rates of salary.

We can talk endlessly about Canada's quality of life, and I would be the first to praise what we have, but if a person's salary and their tax rates result in a greater return on their investment in their future, that quality of life can be purchased. That is the basic reality and choice that many young people decide to face which eventually leads them to go to the United States.

The bill before us has been assailed by the government in some instances as it would focus on only one segment of society. Clearly, there are others who in our current Revenue Canada tax scheme have been afforded the same type of option, for example, and I believe previous members have alluded to them, those individuals who work in the forestry industry and operate chainsaws. They are afforded a tax break on their equipment.

Similarly, musicians and others who are reliant upon a specific tool or instrument are afforded a break, a recognition that they are required, by virtue of that chosen profession, to use a certain instrument or a certain tool.

All that mechanics in this instance are looking for is a recognition in legislation that would allow them to write-off some of the expense involved in using this type of equipment. Again, it bears repeating that it is pricey equipment. Mechanics' tools are extremely expensive and this presents a considerable obstacle for those who want to enter into that type of work.

Because this type of change was so specific, our party initially had concerns because it would perhaps complicate an already overly cumbersome tax code. However, in many ways it simplifies the tax code because it is a straightforward recognition and encompasses what we should always look for in this place, and that is parity and equal treatment for all under the tax code. As I mentioned, other industries can claim tax deductibility on equipment which is necessary to complete a job. Therefore, it is about parity and fairness in treating mechanics.

In 1996 and 1997 the House of Commons finance committee recommended that we move toward ensuring the tax deductibility of equipment and tools necessary for mechanics. If that had happened, we would not have had the necessity of this legislation before us now. It would be a small step forward but an important step nonetheless, and one that all members of the House should support at this time.

The legislation would benefit Canadians and provide them with a fairer, more progressive and innovative tax system which would create a culture of opportunity. This is essentially the motivation behind this and should be the motivation for much of the legislation that we see in this place. We need to ask ourselves how can we improve the quality of life and opportunities for those who are making significant contributions to the workplace.

I very much support the bill. I have a similar motion that encompasses the same spirit that we see in this bill. I would request that all members give close attention to this issue and support this member, as our party will do.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

I want the House to be cognizant that there is approximately 10 minutes left for debate on this bill. The Chair is going to recognize the hon. member for Provencher. Because I see that more than one person wishes to rise and speak to this issue, may I ask if the member for Provencher would agree to split his time of 10 minutes thereby giving 5 minutes to another colleague. Is the member for Provencher agreeable to this suggestion?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
CA

Vic Toews

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Vic Toews (Provencher, Canadian Alliance)

That is agreeable with me, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of Bill C-222, an act to amend the Income Tax Act. The purpose of the act is to permit mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment, if they are required to have these tools according to the terms of their employment. It allows for a full deduction of costs up to $250 and the capital cost for tools over $250.

The riding of Provencher is a mainly rural riding, yet this was a very big issue in the last election. Steinbach, which is the largest urban centre in my riding, is known as the automobile city because of the number of automobile dealerships. There is also a number of agricultural service centres and implement dealerships, all utilizing the services of mechanics who require tools for their trade. These are hardworking, strong work ethic individuals who want to work and who are also looking for fairness. Canada needs these skilled workers, and this is one step toward attracting more workers to this profession and keeping the existing mechanics working.

I noted with some concern the comments of the Liberal member. His comments were essentially attempting to put up roadblocks rather than assisting in the resolution of the problem. We should not be looking at technical problems because these are problems that we can overcome. We do not need excuses. We need reasons.

The Canadian Alliance supports measures that might in any way lower the tax burden on Canadians. This is one such measure. Since industry is expected to train and educate its workforce, the government can play a role by removing impediments that discourage job seekers from pursuing the training and education needed to find employment.

It has been noted that mechanics have been known to spend many thousands of dollars, certainly in excess of $15,000 or $20,000. Of course, depending on the exact requirements, it could even be in the range of $50,000 or more. They cannot declare these employment related expenses while many other professionals can.

This is an issue of equity. Others, for example artists, chainsaw operators and musicians, can use the tax act to write-off the cost of their tools. The Liberal member knows it. Every member in the House knows it.

I urge the House not to simply set this bill aside again as it has done so often. I urge members on both sides of the House to vote in favour of this commendable bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Since I am the member who introduced the bill, I ask for unanimous consent to have the floor for the few minutes left in the debate.

Since I have already spoken during the first hour of debate, I must seek unanimous consent. Let us not forget that this bill has been deemed votable. I therefore must get my colleagues' unanimous consent to close the debate.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to give the hon. member the few minutes left in the debate, which is about four minutes?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the subcommittee on private members' business produced a report in which it recommended to the House that certain criteria be met before a private member's bill could be made votable.

Among these were: that the bill address matters of certain public interest; that the bill and motions address matters not covered by the government's legislative program; and that greater priority be given to measures relating to matters of more than purely local interest and not partisan in nature.

I would respectfully submit to all hon. colleagues on both sides of this House that Bill C-222, despite its imperfections to which my colleague from Portneuf has referred—I know it could be improved—is a matter of fairness to a category of men and women, more often men since this is an untraditional career for women. Mechanics should be able to deduct the purchase cost of their tools.

It is true that the government could think of extending this in future to other categories of workers who might also need it. I believe, however, that there has been unanimous industry support for this for more than 10 years.

I would remind my colleagues that last year in the last parliament we did get the House, all opposition parties and the majority of government members as well to vote in favour of referring this bill to the Standing Committee on Finance.

During the vote to be held today or tomorrow—the government whip ought to introduce a motion to defer it until tomorrow—I appeal to the sense of honour and fairness in all colleagues here in the House. In the division on Bill C-205, we had 218 votes in favour.

I remind the House that Bill C-222 is based on the exact same criteria as Bill C-205, which had the support of 218 members, namely all members of the opposition and a majority of Liberal members. Only 11 Liberals voted against the bill.

I also remind hon. members that the bill goes beyond party lines and that it has nothing to do with partisanship, the right, the left, federalists or sovereignists. In each of our ridings, we have automotive mechanics who work in service stations or car dealerships. We met with them during the election campaign that ended last November 27. We promised we would listen to them and respond to their needs and concerns.

In conclusion, I appeal to the common sense of hon. members who were present in this House during the 36th parliament and who voted in favour of the previous bill to support Bill C-222. I ask the 45 new members who did not have the opportunity to take a stand on the previous bill to support Bill C-222 as well. After the vote at the second reading stage, the bill will be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance where we will have the opportunity to improve it.

All members sitting on the committee will have an opportunity to bring amendments to the bill. I only wish to improve it. I ask that, by the vote, the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and that automotive mechanics and technicians have, once and for all, their status recognized by the House of Commons. They expect justice and fairness.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

It being 11.47 a.m., pursuant to order made on Friday, May 18, 2001, all questions necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of Bill C-222 are deemed put, and a recorded division is deemed demanded and differed until later today, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The House was nice enough to give its consent for the member to continue speaking beyond the deadline as specified. I would like to ask the same consideration for one of our own members who also wishes to speak on the motion before the House for five to seven minutes. If we could allow that to happen as well, then I would be prepared, as the member has referred to, to move the motion to defer the vote until tomorrow night.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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?

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent for the hon. member for Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot to speak for seven minutes?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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LIB

John Bryden

Liberal

Mr. John Bryden (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the very impassioned remarks of the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, who has proposed a bill that has been given very serious consideration by the House. It is an important bill, but I do have to say with some regret that it is not a bill that I am prepared to support.

I listened to all the arguments in the House and indeed I was here in the House when we had this debate on similar motions before. I find it difficult because I think the bill as written runs on a rock that is very difficult to recover from even in committee.

Very simply there are three questions we have to ask ourselves, about the bill when we look at it. The first question is: what is a mechanic? The second question is: what is a tool? Finally, we have to pay attention to the fact that the bill would allow the rental of tools, whatever they are, to be deducted from taxes.

The member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans said in his original speech that he was referring to auto mechanics, but in fact a mechanic is not defined adequately in the income tax legislation. We rely on provincial governments to define what mechanic means.

Mechanic may extend beyond auto mechanics. It may actually extend to the person who fixes the hard drive in our computer. It may extend to the people who work on ships and make repairs to the sophisticated technology that is now occurring in all areas of transportation.

Second is the definition of tool. Everyone seems to be assuming in this debate that we are talking about socket wrenches, box wrenches, screwdrivers and those kinds of thing. Even in the auto industry, auto mechanics have advanced enormously and it is no longer a question of a mechanic having a box wrench, pliers or whatever else. What it really is a question of is the expensive diagnostic equipment. Not only is it a question that mechanics need things, like the machine that enables them to change truck tires, radial tires and those kinds of things, but automobiles have changed so dramatically that a mechanic now is a person who goes in and replaces sophisticated computerized components. That is what being an auto mechanic is now.

The problem there is that if that is what a tool now becomes, then what we are talking about in the legislation is the tax deductibility of equipment that is worth thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, that any individual mechanic cannot afford to buy himself and is likely to rent.

The legislation shows us what we would be creating. The legislation would have been perfect 20 years ago but it does not fit as written today. I have to say to my own government side and the speaker for the government that this aspect of the bill has been overlooked in the government's speeches on the bill.

The reality is that we have passed the point in time when a mechanic can be viewed as simply a person with a box of tools that he has to renew from time to time or gets renewed when the Snap-On truck comes. The Snap-On truck is an enterprise that goes around to various auto shops and offices to replace their tools.

We are now in the computer age. An automobile is something that requires sophisticated diagnostic equipment just to determine whether the exhaust is working properly. What this would do is create a situation where mechanics would no longer acquire tools whatsoever. What would happen is that we would be indirectly subsidizing those enterprises that rent out this kind of equipment.

I think the House has to carefully consider the legislation and carefully ask itself whether it is something that can be fixed in committee. I do not doubt for an instant the sincerity of the member for Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans in bringing the legislation forward. I also do not doubt for a moment that the House was quite correct in its heart of hearts to want to support it in the times preceding.

However the reality is that the legislation, I am sorry to say, belongs in the past. The auto industry, auto mechanics and all mechanics, including computer mechanics, ought to be covered by the legislation. Times have changed and I think we need to go back to the drawing board on this particular piece of legislation.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is general agreement among the parties that it would be preferable, notwithstanding a previous order of the House, to have the vote on the bill tomorrow evening.

Therefore, pursuant to discussions that have taken place among all parties concerning the taking of the division on Bill C-222 scheduled at the conclusion of government orders today, I believe you would find consent that the recorded division scheduled to take place at the end of government orders today on second reading of Bill C-222 be further deferred until the end of government orders on Tuesday, May 29.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to put forward the motion?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Does the House give its consent?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Income Tax Act
Permalink

May 28, 2001