Industry Leaders Call for Worker Mobility Legislation

OTTAWA, Nov. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - On Thursday, October 31, Parliament opened an important debate on Bill C-201, which proposes a tax credit that would help construction workers cover their travel costs when relocating temporarily to take on short-term construction jobs.

Leaders of Canada's construction industry and labour organizations support the proposed construction mobility tax credit. They believe the legislation will create new opportunities for under-employed Canadian tradespeople and help to keep them working.

In an open letter published in The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Hill Times, they made a clear case for the tax credit, outlining the human resources challenges facing the industry and how the credit could help meet them.

The industry is facing skills shortages due to a large cohort of its skilled workforce aging into retirement, a fragmented training system producing uneven results, and not enough new recruits to make up the shortfall. To meet the projected economic demand, more than 250,000 new workers will be needed by the end of the decade.

Current Government of Canada initiatives, while welcome, are unlikely to meet the need for construction workers or grow the workforce in a tangible way. The resource and major institutional construction sectors in some regions are already experiencing skilled labour shortages. This situation is expected to worsen.

Resource projects are often located in remote areas with small populations. They rely on skilled workers willing to relocate to distant sites for short terms. Travel and temporary costs are $3,500 on average, which is prohibitive for many tradespeople.

Existing tax exemptions related to remote work sites apply only to those workers who are provided lodging at these sites directly. There is no similar provision for the majority of construction workers who travel to obtain work. For example, a worker from New Brunswick who moves temporarily to Ontario to work at a large construction site gets no consideration under the tax system—the individual must bear the cost burden of travel and lodging if not provided by the employer. This needs to change.

As well as its clear benefits to Canadian workers and industry, a construction mobility tax credit would benefit the Government of Canada through increased long-term income tax revenues and reduced dependence on costly social programs. Initial studies have shown that the credit could yield a return on investment of nearly 5 to 1.

"This initiative would alleviate dependence on expensive temporary HR solutions by encouraging Canadians to go where the work is—even if it is for a relatively short, finite period of time," said Robert Blakely, Chief Operating Officer of Canada's Building Trades Unions. "The credit would go a long way toward meeting a challenge our entire industry is facing."

The open letter is signed by:

  • Robert Blakely, Chief Operating Officer, Canada's Building Trades Unions
  • Michael Atkinson, President, Canadian Construction Association
  • Neil Tidsbury, President, Construction Labour Relations-Alberta

For more information on the construction mobility tax credit, and to read the letter, please visit http://www.buildingtrades.ca/Legislative-Issues/Government-Affairs-and-Public-Policy/Putting-Canadians-First.aspx.

SOURCE: Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

For further information:

Christopher Smillie, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Canada's Building Trades Unions. Office: (613) 236-0653 / Cell: 613- 620-0653 / Email: csmillie@buildingtrades.ca


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