Conservatives are once again launching another attack on unions, this time with Bill C-377.
There are so many problems with C-377 I’m really not sure where to begin. Whether you support this government’s attack on unions or not, all taxpayers should be concerned with this bill.
Our federal government has stated that they want full disclosure on how unions spend their money solely because their members receive a tax break on union dues paid. This tax break cost $745 million according to the federal government.
I believe that the true costs of tax breaks that are given to unions are much less. I say this for the following reason: union members are made up of workers in the middle class. Many of these workers use this tax break to purchase goods and services in their communities which are taxed and support local jobs.
The Canadian Revenue Service estimates that this bill will cost $21 million to set up and $4 million to maintain yearly. This estimate assumes that less than 1,000 union locals will have to report.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that over 18,000 union locals will be required to report. This is tax payers money that is once again being used by a government to support their attach on an organization that does not support their policies.
It really doesn’t matter which estimate you accept, all we need to do is look at a similar but less onerous bill enacted in the United States to get an idea of the true cost of this bill. In order to track 26,000 unions, the United States spent $41.3 million.
This money is going to be spent on this legislation at a time when Stephen Harper's government is shutting down the coast guard station on the Vancouver harbour, Canada's busiest waterway, in order to save $900,000 a year; shutting down the St. John's Search and Rescue Call Centre to save $1 million a year.
Ottawa is also laying off food inspectors and corporate tax auditors, and it is not following up on billions of dollars of lost revenue stashed away in offshore tax havens.
If we are to have this type of legislation in Canada then is it not fair and reasonable of taxpayers to expect all organizations to be held to the same accountability if they also receive money in the form of tax breaks.
It was not that long ago that our prime minister stood next to workers at the Electro Motive Company in London and announced $1 billion in tax breaks to corporations, $5 million of which Electro Motive received and then took with them to the US.
When asked for some accountability for what happened to the $5 million Electro Motive received, Mr. Harper refused comment.
Lastly, no corporation, charity or special interest group, such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, is subject to the kind of financial reporting that this bill dictates for unions.
Stratford and District Labour Council