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Victoria MP's commuter bill gains steam

Municipal politicians, environmental groups and policy experts rallied behind Victoria MP Denise Savoie this week to support her green commuters’ private member's bill.

Bill C-466 encourages employers to offer benefits to employees who carpool, bike or take the bus, rather than providing free parking for single-occupant drivers.

Savoie's bill is superior to the current transit tax credit because it rewards more than just bus ridership, and would be less complicated for employers to adopt, said Savoie.

“It comes with less cost to the federal government,” Savoie said.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, Bill C-466 would cost less than $93 million annually, compared to $130 million under the current program.

If legislated, the bill allows employers to give their employees a monthly tax-free commuter benefit of $100, $200 or $240, for those who take the bus, carpool or bicycle, respectively.

The tax-free benefit could be added to salaries as a bonus, or subtracted from salaries, saving both employers and employees money.

Since employees would not pay tax on a $1,200 tax-free benefit, it is roughly equivalent to a salary increase of $2,000, saving the employer $800 in salary in addition to the lower payroll tax, according to the New Democratic Party.

A private member's bills is introduced by individual MPs and is not part of the government's planned legislation.

While private member's bills rarely become law, Savoie is hoping for a different outcome.

“I’m hoping that the Conservatives are going to take this bill as their own and include it in their budget,” she said.

rholmen@vicnews.com

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