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Update on the Parking Portfolio

The imposition of parking charges has created consternation amongst many of our members.

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and other departments have been vilifying the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), blaming it for Treasury Board’s new-found desire to charge its employees for parking. Nothing is further from the truth. CRA does not require any employer to charge its employees for parking. Instead, in certain circumstances employers are required to include a taxable benefit in the employees’ income, based on the fair market value of parking as a benefit enjoyed.

The fallacy becomes clear when you consider that a taxable benefit would not benefit departments, since they would not receive any money. The inconvenient truth is that with the continuing freeze on departmental operating budgets, individual departments seem to be seeking creative ways to balance their budgets, such as by funnelling the revenue generated from the parking fees into parking infrastructure, including snow and ice removal. Ultimately, instead of looking to the government for more money, the easier path appears to be yet another attack on our members in the form of parking charges.

While parking charges may be warranted in some cases, we are seeing situations where departments have not been able to justify, to the Institute’s satisfaction, the parking rates set based on “fair market value” established by PWGSC contracted parking studies. In fact, some situations, such as the DND parking facility in Halifax, are particularly egregious since there is no guarantee our members will actually get a spot even if they decide to pay for it.

What is particularly infuriating is the fact that pursuant to Treasury Board’s guidelines and PWGSC’s Custodial Parking Policy there are no direct rights of recourse for employees to challenge the parking charges, and departments are washing their hands of the problem.

Quite frankly, it’s too bad that departments are not assessing a taxable benefit instead of charging our members for parking, because at least in those circumstances our members would be able to file a Notice of Objection to the CRA, and have their “day in court”.

We are hearing from a number of our members that a new wave of parking studies is being conducted. If you feel that you are unfairly being charged for parking based on parking lot fees charged in nearby and comparable locations, please contact a steward in your worksite, or alternatively an Employment Relations Officer at the Institute so that we have the opportunity to assess the merits of pursuing possible actions.

In solidarity,

Shannon Bittman, Vice-President
Portfolio Lead – Parking

Publish Date: 07-OCT-2014 08:00 AM