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Lewis, Masse show support for each other’s Private Member’s Bill


by Sylene Argent

It was a milestone day in the House of Commons for the Windsor-Essex region as Conservative Essex MP Chris Lewis and New Democrat Windsor West MP Brian Masse each had their Private Member’s Bills directed to the committee-level for review.

  Last Wednesday was a “monumental day for our region,” Lewis said. Because the two Private Member’s Bills are headed to the committee-level, it puts Essex-Windsor on the map. “We are really going to get all eyes on us across the country. Now is an opportunity to really work collaboratively and to make our region shine. It is pretty exciting.”

  He noted no one could remember, in recent history, two Private Member’s Bills both going to vote on the same day from neighbouring ridings, and then passing. “It is pretty special,” Lewis said.

  Lewis’s Bill C241, “An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act Deduction of Travel Expenses for Tradespersons, was first introduced in the House of Commons in February.

  It will now be forwarded to the Standing Committee on Finance for further evaluation and consideration.

  This amendment would allow a deduction of travel for tradespersons to claim travel expenses for work at least 120 kilometres from their residence. These expenses include travel, accommodation, and meals.

  He said the Bill would apply to those who were required to pay for expenses in the amounts expended travelling to and from the site, at least 120-kilometers away, if the taxpayer does three things: was required under contract of employment to pay those expenses, did not receive an allowance in respect of those expenses, and did not claim those expenses as an income deduction or a tax credit for the year.

  Lewis said his Private Member’s Bill received full support from the NDP, including Masse, and Bloc Québécois. Unfortunately, it did not receive full support from the Liberal Party, but got enough votes to send it to committee.

  “It is incredibly exciting for our skilled trades unions,” Lewis said. “Now, the real work begins.”

  At the committee-level, witnesses – from trade unions and the government – will be called to speak on the matter.

  “They will study my Private Member’s Bill and then they will make suggestions to better the Bill,” Lewis commented, adding that could include taking things out, or adding new ideas in.

  From there, it will be sent back to the House of Commons, and voted on one final time. If it passes there, it will head over to the senate-level for more scrutiny.

  The Bill will come in handy with the current price of fuel and the cost of living, and with inflation at all time high, especially when one is working out-of-town. If skilled trades people are expected to travel, and they are burdened with additional expenses, why commit to that work if it will cost them to do so, Lewis asked.    

  In supporting Masse’s Private Member’s Bill for Ojibway, C248: An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada), Lewis said he spoke to many, including LaSalle Mayor Marc Bondy and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, both of whom supported the initiative. He heard as long as the main arterials remain open, so people can get back and forth to work, there is support. 

  Masse’s Bill would amend the Canada National Parks Act to establish Ojibway National Urban Park of Canada. It also received its second reading and referral to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last week.

  “Why would we not support making it a national park, so people can get out, get active, and get busy. It is going to do a bunch of things, it is going to help mental health, it is going to get people healthier, and it is going to get people to appreciate and use our outdoors. It should be a win/win for everyone,” he said.

  Lewis was confused as to why the Liberals did not support it.

  “I was happy to support it,” he said.