POLITICS
09/13/2019 13:48 EDT | Updated 09/13/2019 13:56 EDT

Scheer Promises To Bring Back Public Transit Tax Credit Scrapped By Liberals

The Trudeau government got rid of the credit in the 2017 budget.

Paul Chiasson/CP
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer steps off a public transit bus in Mississauga , Ont. on Sept. 13, 2019.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is promising to revive a public-transit tax credit created by the former Stephen Harper government more than a decade ago.

They are calling the measure a “Green Public Transit Tax Credit” and tying it to initiatives to help the environment but mostly pushing it as a way to help Canadians save money.

Scheer pulled up in a commuter bus at a GO Transit bus garage in Mississauga, Ont., and bounded down the stairs to accuse Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau of making life more expensive when he cancelled the tax credit two years ago.

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“For so many Canadians transit is the only way from point A to point B,” Scheer said, as the occasional jet from the nearby Toronto airport roared overhead.

The 15-per-cent tax credit would apply to monthly and weekly transit passes or electronic fare cards used for an extended period, for riding commuter trains and buses, city buses, streetcars and subways, and local ferries.

The former Conservative government introduced a similar tax credit for transit passes in 2007; the Liberals cut the tax credit in the 2017 budget, saying it was ineffective at encouraging more people to take transit, and they would rather spend the money on building transit.

The measure cost about $200 million a year when it was cancelled. The parliamentary budget office says it expects the new version to cost $229 million a year at first, rising to $306 million by 2028-29.

Scheer said it is a measure to make life more affordable, and would save some families that use commuter transit up to $1,000 a year.

“It is also going to make it more attractive to use public transit rather than taking someone’s car,” he said. “If someone is right on the edge of deciding whether or not it would be more affordable to take public transit, this type of measure will help people make those choices.”

Scheer is spending a lot of time in the campaign pushing his middle-class upbringing in comparison to Trudeau’s more comfortable life. He turned to the theme again Friday, saying that growing up in Ottawa, he and his sisters had to take the bus everywhere.

“I even had to take the bus on dates, which is not the easiest way to convince someone to go to the movies with you,” he said.