I was not planning on mentioning the controversy surrounding a temporary ice rink the Liberal Government built in front of the Parliament buildings to celebrate Canada 150.
However, a nearby Liberal MP referenced this rink locally and defended the project against allegations of government waste. Unfortunately the Member of Parliament in question failed to mention the actual costs to build this temporary rink.
That omission of relevant fact led to many citizens asking me what were the actual costs.
Originally the costs to build this temporary ice rink were quoted at $5.6 million dollars. The rink would only be open for just over three weeks in December. Later it would be donated to a community near Ottawa.
The public outcry over the costs in addition to the limited schedule led to an announcement extending the opening schedule to the end of February 2018. However, the extra costs of doing so are not clear.
I will leave it up to local citizens to decide if $5.6 million dollars, plus additional costs not known, is money well spent for a temporary skating rink outside of the House of Commons.
More importantly I have have received a considerable response from many single parents, the majority of which are single mothers, who have encountered serious difficulty in dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency(CRA).
These single parents are having their Canada Child Benefit arbitrarily denied, reduced or clawed back. I will credit the Minister of National Revenue's office who has reached out and to date we have been able to successfully restore the benefits for one local single mother. I am currently working on a number of other cases.
I do believe it is important to give credit where it is due and on behalf of my constituents, I appreciate the assistance of the Minister’s office in these matters.
On a somewhat related theme, the House of Commons will adjourn this week.
Earlier today, the Finance Minister revealed details to the Liberal Government tax changes affecting Canadian small businesses, effective January 1st, 2018.
I am concerned over the timing of this announcement, being so close to the holiday season. Last year, the Liberals quietly released a report on Christmas Eve showing they would not balance the budget until at least the year 2050.
What is more concerning is these small business tax changes will add more discretionary power to the CRA in areas such as the dividends to family members, who help run those small businesses.
My greatest concern relates to the experience I have encountered with single parents and how unfairly the CRA may use their discretionary power. This could lead to the CRA unfairly penalizing Canadian small business owners without proof of any actual wrong doing. I have witnessed many examples where citizens do provide the required documentation only to be arbitrarily denied again by the CRA.
While I do appreciate the Minister of National Revenue's efforts, it is not practical to have the Minister`s office continue to intervene on a case by case basis for what should not be a problem in the first place.
This leads to my question for this week:
Do you believe the CRA should have ultimate and sole authority when interpreting the status of information reported by taxpayers?
By extension, should there be a greater burden of proof required from the CRA before they can arbitrarily and adversely impact a taxpayer?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.