April 15, 2014
Denis Flanagan CLD
Director of Public Relations and Membership Services
Denis FlanaganMost months we run a column in this magazine that gives updates on the issues concerning underground utilities, and the knowledge, skills and training that are needed to run a professional company. I will take a few words in this column to focus on another type of underground activity that we are all aware exists within our industry.

In my role as public relations director, I get to visit many parts of the province. Last month I was at our Windsor Chapter attending a home show where the Chapter had a booth promoting to the public to hire our professional members.

Our neighbouring booth happened to be Revenue Canada. It’s the first time I have seen them at a consumer show. Judging by the reaction from other exhibitors and the public, many people wondered why they were there, which resulted in lots of interesting questions and some solid answers.

I gathered from the conversations that in areas like Windsor, which have experienced tough economic times, job losses, etc., we are seeing a rise in the underground economy. This, of course, is not only a threat to any company running a legitimate business, but also a concern regarding lost revenue to ‘The Taxman.’

This has resulted in Revenue Canada focusing on the underground economy concerning the home repair industry. The agency is using an outreach program to consumers that will educate them about hiring contractors.

It is interesting to see the brochure Revenue Canada handed out. It includes much of the same advice found in our LO literature, such as check references, make sure contractors have liability insurance, WSIB, etc. I think this awareness campaign can only benefit our members.

The other side of the coin involves conversations about being audited by Revenue Canada. One contractor admitted he made a mistake once on his taxes. When he was audited, part of the process involved an investigation that checked every delivery order from his stone supplier, a follow-up to see if work was completed at the delivery address, and if that work corresponded with the contractor’s books. I am sure many of you have heard similar stories.

Revenue Canada representatives in Windsor hinted that our industry is going to be a focal point of agents. This is another reason you need to take advantage of everything your membership has to offer, such as business courses, networking, training, Chapter meetings, advice and branding tools such as logo stickers and links to the landscapeontario.com website.

Perhaps the whole topic of discussions with this outreach program from Revenue Canada needs to take place. Should we invite them to our trade shows, or ask them to give seminars and provide information for our members? Your feedback would be welcomed, so please reply to me at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com.
Denis Flanagan may be contacted at dflanagan@landscapeontario.com.