Industry leaders have announced their support for a proposed construction mobility tax credit that is currently before the federal legislature.
Bill C-201 proposes a tax credit that would help construction and skilled trades workers cover the costs of temporary relocation.
Leaders from Canada’s Building Trades Unions, the Canadian Construction Association and Construction Labour Relations-Alberta say the tax credit would help underemployed Canadian tradespeople gain productive employment.
There are a number of human resources challenges facing the industry, including serious skills shortages as a large proportion of the workforce enters or approaches retirement. A fragmented training system along with a shortage of new recruits adds to the problem, the leaders wrote in an open letter.
Current government initiatives are not sufficient to meet the need for skilled workers or to help the workforce expand, they said. More than 250,000 new workers will be needed by the end of the decade to meet economic demand.
Resource and major institutional construction sectors in some regions are already facing serious shortages, and resource projects are often located in remote areas. These projects rely on skilled workers who are willing to temporarily relocate, facing travel and relocation costs that average at $3,500.
The existing tax exemptions only apply to workers who receive lodging directly at the work sites. The majority of construction workers who travel to obtain work do not receive these exemptions.
A mobility tax credit would provide increased long-term income tax revenues for the government and reduce dependence on social programs. Preliminary estimates show the tax credit could yield a return on investment of almost five to one.
“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.”