Skilled Labour Mobility

African-American woman working at construction site.

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Send this letter to your elected officials to show you support for Canada’s skilled labour. #OnTheRoad

Dear Member of Parliament,

cc: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi

In the construction industry, projects arise, are built, and completed in different locations at different times. This requires a mobile skilled trades workforce to travel to where projects are happening. When expenses aren’t covered by an employer, skilled trades workers have to travel far from home and pay out of pocket for travel expenses – costs that can run into the thousands. When trying to support a family, the extra expenses make it too expensive to travel for work.

Currently, the Income Tax Act, treats skilled trades workers unfairly. Salespeople, professionals, and Canadians in other industries can receive a tax deduction for the cost of their travel, meals, and accommodations. The same option is denied to skilled trades workers who work on jobsites in different regions or provinces from their primary residence. For example, someone selling rebar or conduit for the construction of a new building can travel and deduct from their income the cost of their travel, meals, accommodations, while the same option is unjustly denied to skilled workers who install the rebar and conduit. Workers in the trades should not be punished financially due to their choice of occupation. The Government of Canada has a responsibility to ensure a system of tax fairness is in place for all Canadians.

Skilled trades workers have continued to go to work, each and every day from the start of the pandemic. As the economy continues to rebound, the recovery will be uneven in different parts of the country. In construction, that means high unemployment in some regions and a shortage of skilled trades workers in another.

To address a skilled labour shortage and put more Canadians to work, the time is now for the Government of Canada to ensure fairness for skilled trades workers.

The construction industry is the backbone of the middle class; it’s an industry that builds Canada’s roads, bridges, buildings, and our future Net Zero economy. But Canada’s skilled trades workers need support to continue to build a better Canada. Stand up for Canada’s skilled trades workers and address the unfairness in the Income Tax Act.

Thank you,

CBTU is campaigning to have the federal government introduce a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction — a personal tax exemption on expenses construction workers typically incur when they temporarily relocate for work.

In the construction sector, growth across the country is oftentimes uneven, with some areas experiencing higher levels of construction activity resulting in labour shortages, while others will see high unemployment levels. Skilled trades workers have always had to travel for work – that’s why we’re called journeypersons. Sometimes, mobility creates a barrier for workers to go to where the work is. Skilled trades workers need government support to address the financial barriers to labour mobility.

Unfairness in the Tax Act

The Income Tax Act in its current form, is inequitable towards skilled trades workers. Salespeople, professionals and Canadians in other industries can receive a tax deduction for the cost of their travel, meals, and accommodations. The same option is denied to skilled trades workers who work on jobsites that are in different regions or provinces from their primary residence. This is an unfair tax policy. The Federal Government has a responsibility to ensure a system of tax fairness is in place for all Canadians and to support skilled trades workers, who play an integral role in building our communities.

Other jurisdictions such as the United States already permit a tax deduction like this to those working in the skilled trades. The US Revenue Code allows workers to deduct meals, travel, and accommodation expenses for temporary work away from home. Implementing a similar measure will help put Canadians to work, address labour shortages and reduce reliance on government programs like Employment Insurance, ultimately saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Skilled trades workers across Canada want to go to work, but that work isn’t always close to home. To build a strong economic recovery, the Federal Government has the opportunity to address the long-standing issue of labour mobility in the skilled trades by implementing financial incentives and/or allowing skilled trades workers to deduct from their income, the cost to travel and go to work. This will help put Canadians to work, address labour shortages and reduce reliance on government programs like Employment Insurance, ultimately saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

Fiscal Benefits

In March 2021, CBTU commissioned an independent financial analysis [RR1] which estimates that a Canada-wide implementation of a skilled trades workforce mobility tax deduction could save the Federal Government an estimated $347 million dollars annually through increased tax revenues and reduced reliance on EI and other government programs.

Learn about this issue by reading our brief or visiting our campaign at building2021.ca  

Grants and Financial Support for Apprentices
Skilled Labour Mobility Brief
Canada’s Building Trades Mentorship Alliance
National Infrastructure Assessment Submission

Building Connections