Federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley helped contractors take measurements Friday for upcoming renovations to a Halifax homeowner’s deck.

“What about a barbecue pit?” the minister asked when talking over renovation plans with Ashburn Avenue homeowner Cathie Mulroy.

Ms. Finley, who said she loves doing home renovations, appeared in a sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers for the photo opportunity orchestrated by the federal government Friday to promote its new $3-billion home renovation tax credit.

The proposed tax credit announced in Tuesday’s budget covers a wide range of home renovations and allows families to claim up to $1,350 on their 2009 taxes for renovations over $1,000 and up to $10,000.

The expenditures must be for work or materials purchased after Jan. 27, 2009, and before Feb. 1, 2010, for work agreements entered into after Jan. 27.

The construction industry is important to the Canadian economy, said Ms. Finley, also the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

“We are unfortunately seeing layoffs in that sector and we want to create jobs. If we create construction jobs like these, they don’t take long to get started. They are labour-intensive.

“The other important aspect is that as much as 80 per cent of the materials are Canadian-made, so that creates a lot of spinoff jobs too.”

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has questioned the effectiveness of the temporary credit as many significant construction projects are stalled in this province due to lack of skilled tradespeople.

When asked about that, Ms. Finley said that “availability of skills varies across the country. Unfortunately, we do expect that because of the global economic downturn that more people will be losing their jobs. The good news is that opportunities like this will exist for them. A lot of what we are doing is going to protect people from losing their jobs too.”

Some have also questioned the introduction of a credit that assists an industry whose jobs are predominantly held by males.

“I know more and more women who are getting into this because they enjoy it as much or even more than I do,” Ms. Finley said.

An Archadeck franchise in Halifax is doing the plans for work on Ms. Mulroy’s deck.

Owner Maurice Meagher says half of his office staffers are female, including a production manager and drafts person. His company employs about six office staff and about 20 skilled tradespeople during peak season.

While he said his company is already busy, Mr. Meagher said the proposed credit will provide a definite boost to the industry.

“It will make people who are maybe thinking about (a project) take action and go out and spend the money. . . . If it provides more jobs for us, that is great. We continue to try and grow our business.”

Ms. Mulroy said that the credit has definitely influenced her to improve her deck.

“We’ve been planning it for a year and then sort of thought ‘no.’ But this is an incentive.”

Archadeck is giving her free 3-D drawings for the project for her participation in Friday’s event, she said.