Toronto downtown with new streetcar

The Conservative Party of Canada is promising to re-introduce a public transit tax credit, a benefit that the Liberal government eliminated two years ago, should it form the next federal government.

The Green Public Transit Tax Credit would provide 15% tax credit on public transit expenses, including for monthly passes, as well as weekly passes and electronic fare cards that are used for extended periods of time. Eligible passes must allow for unlimited travel within Canada on buses, streetcars, subways, commuter trains and buses, and local ferries.

Taxpayers would be able to claim the credit for eligible transit expenses incurred by themselves, their spouses, and children under the age of 19.

The Conservatives say they are introducing the credit as part of their broader plan to protect the environment and fight climate change by reducing traffic congestion and cutting commute times, while at the same time “leaving more money in Canadians’ pockets.”

According to parliamentary budget office projections, the Green Public Transit Tax Credit would cost $57 million in revenue to the federal government in 2019-20, $229 million in 2020-21, and $238 million in 2021-22.

As part of the 2017 federal budget, the Liberal government eliminated the Public Transit Tax Credit, which offered 15% non-refundable credit on eligible public transit costs. According to the 2017 budget document, the program “had been ineffective in encouraging the use of public transit and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Instead, the Liberals said they would make investments directly into improving public transit across the country.

The Public Transit Tax Credit was first introduced as part of the 2006 federal budget by the Conservative government under Stephen Harper.