Imag­ine; leg­is­la­tion that is ac­tu­ally a deal

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

POS­SI­BLY the best piece of leg­is­la­tion to come from the fed­eral govern­ment in decades has been the Home Ren­o­va­tion Tax Credit.

In­tro­duced in the 2009-10 bud­get, the HRTC was de­signed to stim­u­late the econ­omy in a time of re­ces­sion. The ba­sic premise was that the con­sumer would re­ceive a re­bate on their taxes if they ren­o­vated some as­pect of their home. The re­bate was 15 per cent of mon­eys spent be­tween $1,000 and $10,000. There­fore, for ren­o­va­tions of $10,000 and above, one would re­ceive a tax credit of $1,350.

Imag­ine — the govern­ment was giv­ing us money back if we spent money on some­thing we needed to pur­chase in the first place. This was a deal!

The tim­ing couldn’t have been bet­ter. The en­tire world was mired in a re­ces­sion and Canada was no ex­cep­tion. Man­i­toba was not im­pacted to the same de­gree as On­tario, Al­berta and B.C., but our man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, es­pe­cially those de­pen­dant on U.S. trade, was def­i­nitely hit hard.

Con­sumers stepped back from their cus­tom­ary pur­chas­ing habits, fur­ther im­pact­ing the econ­omy. The HRTC not only en­cour­aged peo­ple to up­grade their houses by way of ren­o­va­tion, it also helped many other sec­tors. In the case of man­u­fac­tur­ers who pro­duced goods for the home such as win­dows, floors, cab­i­nets and counter tops, the HRTC pro­vided an eco­nomic in­cen­tive that en­cour­aged the con­sumer to keep buy­ing through tougher times. This meant that they could con­tinue to op­er­ate their pro­duc­tion plants, thereby keep­ing their em­ploy­ees work­ing. Sales staff were also busy.

Pro­fes­sional ren­o­va­tors, handy­men and do-it-your­selfers were kept busy all year with var­i­ous projects. The beauty of the HRTC was that both labour and ma­te­ri­als were el­i­gi­ble for the re­bate. All ben­e­fited from it.

So, the con­sumer wins, the man­u­fac­turer wins, the sales staff and re­tail out­lets win. We’re still not out of the woods yet, so why dis­con­tinue the HRTC be­fore the fi­nal num­bers were even as­sessed? Per­haps there is an op­por­tu­nity here for the Man­i­toba govern­ment to im­ple­ment some up­dated ver­sion of the Home Ren­o­va­tion Tax Credit, maybe one tied to en­ergy or wa­ter sav­ings. It’s worth a thought.

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