CTA Chief Says Canadian Budget Requires

Highway Improvement Money, Meal Tax Break

The head of the Canadian Trucking Alliance told members of the House of Commons Finance Committee recently that the next Canadian federal budget had to provide for a strategic national highway program. David Bradley, CTA chief executive officer, appeared before the committee as part of its annual pre-budget consultations.

"Canada-US trade is expected to double over the next five years to more than $600 billion annually. With close to 70% of this moving by truck, new smart highways and border crossings are needed," said Bradley.

He also called on committee members to revisit a 1994 decision by the minister of Finance to reduce deductibility of drivers' meal expenses from 80% to 50%. According to Bradley, that decision, made at a time when Canada's public finances were in a shambles, had the unintended effect of compounding the difficulties in recruiting and retaining qualified drivers.

"Returning the deductibility of meal expenses for truck drivers back to where it was in 1994 would have the effect not only of returning some hard-earned money back to hard-working Canadians, but also signal that the government recognizes that truckers are the backbone of our economy," said Bradley.

In response to questions on the cost of government regulation, Bradley told the committee that Labor Canada's recent fall protection regulation was a good example of a bad regulation developed without consideration of cost to industry.

The CTA submission also contained these recommendations:

* The Canadian government should reduce the corporate income tax rate to bring it to a level closer to the US rate. The combined federal-provincial rate in Canada averages about 43%, while the US average is about 39%. The federal excise tax on motor fuels should be reduced and the revenue loss offset by levies on other pollution-creating fuels such as coal and heavy fuel oil used in industrial production.

* The Canadian government should bring the Canadian capital cost allowance rate on trucking equipment in line with the US system. This would encourage purchase of trucks with engine technology that reduces emissions of environmental pollutants.

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