Hoback introduces bill to create home security tax credit

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback has introduced a bill to create a Home Security Tax Credit, which the Conservatives say will help address rural crime rates across the country.

Hoback introduced Bill C-34 on Thursday in the House of Commons. If it passes, homeowners would be eligible for a non-refundable tax credit of up to $5,000 per year for the installation, maintenance and monitoring of a security system on a home, garage or barn.

The bill is one of several the Conservatives plan to bring forward in the next few weeks designed to “make a dent” in rural crime.

“To me, this was a fairly simple bill, very easy to bring forward, very easy to explain and very practical,” the Prince Albert MP said during a phone interview from Ottawa. “It’s a very pragmatic piece of legislation…. I believe it will pass, but at least as people solidify their properties, as they spend that money, they’re getting some relief from the federal government when they do it.”

Hoback said it’s difficult to say when the bill will come up for a final vote, but he’s hoping to see it within the next year-and-a-half.

Revenue Canada will compile a complete list of security systems that are included under the tax credit. Potential items include security cameras, alarms and gates.

Hoback argued that security systems like cameras would help RCMP identify repeat offenders, while things like alarms would give residents a better idea of what’s happening on their property.

“Everybody will look at it a little different and do things that work for them, and that’s what I like about the legislation,” he said. “It’s not prescriptive. It’s not telling what you have to do. It’s just saying, ‘here’s some help financially. You decide what’s the best course of action for your property.’”

Rural crime watch groups in the Prince Albert area welcomed the news, but stressed that more than tax credits will be needed to keep the area safe.

Lake Country Crime Watch president Karla Bear said the bill is “one of many pieces to the puzzle,” but added that it’s also an encouraging first step.

“Most of us live in a rural setting or at the lake and I think it would be helpful for people to upgrade their security systems,” she said. “I know where we are, our system is pretty basic because up until about three weeks ago, we didn’t have internet that was good enough to support something where we could monitor it all the time, even when we’re not home, but if people are able to get a tax credit for installing more security in their homes, I think it would give them a lot of peace of mind.”

Bear added that property owners aren’t seeing as much crime as they used to north of Prince Albert. However, she said there’s still a strong chance it will pick up again in the future.

“Right now we seem to have entered a little bit of a lull, but most of it is a cycle,” she explained. “A lot of the prolific offenders are currently behind bars, so when that happens, things tend to quiet down a little bit. Then once they’re released it will pick up again.”

According to Statistics Canada, the police-reported crime decreased in Canada between 2009 and 2017, however rural crime remains high, especially in the prairie provinces. Rural residents across Canada reported 6,210 crimes per 100,000 people in 2017, while urban residents reported 5,051. Saskatchewan’s rural crime rate is double the national average.

If the bill passes, urban residents will also be eligible for the tax credit.