TORONTO – Stephen Harper has delivered the first big-budget promise of the Conservative election campaign: a permanent home-renovation tax credit that will cost taxpayers $1.5 billion a year once implemented.
However, Harper says the credit — a more modest version of a temporary credit the government first introduced in 2009 — won’t be introduced until economic circumstances permit, perhaps the middle of a Tory mandate.
While the original credit applied to renovation costs of up to $10,000, the ceiling for the permanent credit has been lowered to $5,000.
Speaking at a campaign event in Toronto, Harper says the credit, which would apply to renovation work done on houses, cottages and condominiums owned for personal use, would also help to create jobs in the construction sector.
He says it would also pump billions of dollars back into the Canadian economy.
Some three million Canadians have taken advantage of the opportunity to make renovations in the last six years.
“Young parents renovated rooms as nurseries, empty-nesters converted rooms for other uses, older Canadians made changes to remain independent in their own homes,” Harper said.
“The renovation tax credit helps every homeowner, regardless of income. I know Justin Trudeau doesn’t think every family deserves help, but we do.”
Interestingly, Harper’s propensity for referring to Trudeau by his first name only seemed to be a dominant theme on the campaign trail Tuesday.
Asked about it, the prime minister said it’s something he does occasionally, but only because that’s the way the Liberals have chosen to brand their own leader.
Trudeau himself, who unveiled the Liberal campaign bus at an early rally in Mississauga, Ont., shrugged it off as a distraction from the fact that the Conservatives have allowed the economy to slide into a recession.
“His distraction is working because I just got two questions on that rather than on how to build a stronger economy for the future of this country,” Trudeau said.
“The fact is, I am staying focused on Canadians and what they need.”
Harper’s plan is not working and the “real risk is sticking with the status quo,” he added.
Trudeau also set his sights on the NDP’s Tom Mulcair, denouncing his promise to raise the minimum wage as a “mirage” that wouldn’t apply to 99 per cent of minimum-wage workers in Canada whose pay rates are set by the provinces.
Mulcair, who has been absent from the campaign cut-and-thrust since making a public appearance Sunday, was scheduled to attend an event later Tuesday in Montreal.