Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

November 29, 2012 14:40 ET

Costs of Russ Hiebert's Anti-union Bill Mounting

He said cost would be minimal but meter is ticking

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 29, 2012) - The potential costs to taxpayers of a Private Members Bill put forward by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert will be tens of millions of dollars, says Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

"Mr. Hiebert's bill would force every labour organization to post information about all financial transactions of more than $5,000 on a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website," says Georgetti. "The CRA will have to invest millions of dollars to hire staff, set up a website and oversee compliance of legislation which isn't needed in the first place. The federal government's cost meter is ticking."

Figures provided by the CRA to the House of Commons Finance Committee estimate that implementing Hiebert's Bill C-377 will cost $20.1 million in the first two years alone, plus at least $3.8 million a year in ongoing costs. "We believe that this is a very conservative estimate," Georgetti says. "The CRA based its estimates on less than 1,000 labour organizations reporting, but there are more than 25,000 labour organizations that will have to report to the CRA as currently defined in Bill C-377. It costs the American government $43 million a year to administer a program with a similar number of labour organizations reporting."

When Hiebert introduced his bill on October 3, 2011, he told a news conference that the "actual expense incurred by unions and by the federal government should be negligible." Georgetti adds, "Mr. Hiebert may think that needlessly spending tens of millions of dollars is negligible, but we think it is a lot of money to waste. I can't believe that Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty would throw away taxpayers' money in this way."

Georgetti adds, "The CRA announced earlier this year that it is cutting 3,000 jobs but it will now be forced to hire people to pore over every last detail of spending by labour organizations. This comes at a time when the Conservative government is closing the Coast Guard station in Canada's busiest port in Vancouver to save $900,000 a year, and closing the Search and Rescue call centre in St. John's to save $1 million. There is something wrong with this picture."

Georgetti says that there are other concerns with Bill C-377 that go beyond wasting money. The Canadian Bar Association told the Finance Committee that Bill C-377 should be withdrawn because it would invade the personal privacy of individual Canadians and is likely unconstitutional. Canada's federal Privacy Commissioner also said that the bill would invade personal privacy and overreaches in its intent.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour

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