Mr. John McDermid (Brampton-Georgetown):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion presented by my hon. friend from Surrey-White Rock-North Delta (Mr. Friesen). In the past week I have had the privilege of attending two openings in my constituency of Brampton-Georgetown, one of a senior citizens' drop-in centre, the other of a public swimming pool, both designed with the handicapped in mind and heavily supported not only by the government but by the private sector. The swimming pool facilities allow wheelchair access to the pool and also to the whirlpool bath, a new idea which is a very worth-while thing. 1 congratulate the people, the politicians and the staff of the Region of Peel and the city of Brampton on both those worth-while projects.
There is one area 1 should like to talk about for just a moment, the issue of transportation of the handicapped. There have been numerous representations in the past seeking an extension of the general exemption for the disabled. One reason which is often given is that it would provide for special transportation costs faced by many of the handicapped in getting to and from work. One feels sympathy and admiration for handicapped persons who have the energy and ambition to get out and work. I agree with the hon. member on the other side that we should increasingly encourage these endeavours. I also believe various areas of the House of Commons should be more accessible to the handicapped.
To get back to the subject of transportation, the answer which has been given in the past is that there should not be a general widening of the exemption since this would benefit others who don't have the same transportation expenses. The general question of employment related expenses has long been a difficult issue. Under tax law, transportation expenses can be
November 19, 1979
subject to a wide variety of circumstances and personal choice. Because of this, nearly every tax system follows the practice of not allowing a general deduction for transportation expenses. That was also the conclusion of the Carter Royal Commission on Taxation.
It is a difficult problem, and the solution arrived at in the Canadian income tax context is to provide a flat-rate employment expense deduction to recognize all of the many and varied personal expenses incurred by people in earning income from employment. Up to last year this deduction was 3 per cent of a taxpayer's income up to a maximum $250. For this year that maximum allowance has been doubled to $500.
I would urge that the committee to be set up to study the special needs of handicapped and disabled persons take a fresh look at this area of transportation. Increasing importance is being given to the desire and ability of the handicapped to get into the work force where they can play a very beneficial role in society. Many adjustments have to be made. I know a number of handicapped people who drive cars and who have had to spend tremendous amounts of money getting hand controls set up in their automobiles. I think this whole matter should be looked at again with a view to providing legitimate tax deductions related to the transportation needs of the handicapped.
It is a pleasure for me to support this motion and I urge all hon. members to endorse its passage.
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic: INCOME TAX