Surprise Decision on New Sales Tax Could Cost Tourism and Service Jobs
VICTORIA – The Campbell government’s surprise decision to bring in a new sales tax without consulting the tourism and restaurant industry could cost front line workers their jobs, the New Democrats said today.
“The move to a new tax came as a complete surprise to the tourism and foodservice industry. Gordon Campbell’s failure to consult with consumers or businesses is Spencer HerbertSpencer Herbertcompletely unacceptable,” said New Democrat tourism critic Spencer Herbert .
“Many restaurants are struggling to stay afloat during this economic downturn, and any further tax could cost service workers their jobs.”
Just last week, Minister of Small Business Iain Black assured the Restaurant and Foodservices Association that the government would not make any announcements on tax harmonisation without proper consultation.
Herbert noted that the food service industry could be hit particularly hard by the Campbell government’s new tax, which is estimated to result in $750 million in lost sales per year, or $50,000 for the average restaurant.
“This new tax could hit the tourism industry particularly hard, so the government’s decision to try and bring in this change without any proper consultation process is the height of irresponsibility,” said Herbert, who noted that the new tax will result in a seven per cent increase in taxes on movie tickets, theatre tickets, tours, and domestic airline fares.
“This sudden reversal caught consumers and many small businesses by surprise. During the campaign, the B.C. Liberals said they were opposed to the HST,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “With small businesses and families across the province struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to catch British Columbians off-guard with a new tax and no consultation.”
Under the Campbell government, B.C. has had the worst rate of full-time job losses, the second-worst performing economy, and the highest level of child poverty in the country.
Carole James and the New Democrats have been holding Gordon Campbell accountable for his broken promises to protect health and education, his failure to admit until after the election that the deficit will be significantly higher than promised, and a growing ethical cloud hanging over his office as a result of new revelations in the B.C. Rail corruption trial.
B.C. Liberals’ New Sales Tax Will Kill Green Consumer Tax Exemptions
VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal government’s surprise announcement of a new, $2 billion tax on consumers will bring an end to dozens of exemptions for environmentally-friendly choices, the New Democrats said today.
“During the election campaign, the B.C. Liberals staked their credibility on claims that they were encouraging consumers to make green choices. But now that the election is over, they’ve broken their promises and instead are scrapping millions of dollars inRob FlemingRob Fleming incentives and tax exemptions for sustainable products like bicycles, green building products and fuel-efficient cars,” said New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming .
Under the B.C. Liberals’ new HST, tax exemptions for dozens of environmentally-friendly products will be eliminated, including for fuel-efficient vehicles, electric scooters, biodiesel, insulation on pipes and hot water tanks, and investments in clean home energy technology. Some of these, like the credit for bicycles, have existed for decades.
“The B.C. Liberals have completely betrayed the modest list of PST exemptions in their so-called 2008 'Green Budget',” said Fleming. Bruce RalstonBruce Ralston“The Campbell government is taxing and threatening potential new green jobs and economic activity in green building, retrofitting, and retailing sustainable products.”
New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston noted that, when former Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced a number of PST exemptions for environmental goods in 2008, she stressed the importance of these measures for encouraging green choices.
When introducing these measures, Taylor said “Each of these initiatives brings us one step closer to the future that we envision for our province. It's a future where we leverage our action on climate change in ways that support our quality of life and our economy with new innovations, new ideas and new technologies.”
Hansen has said that although “it was nice for the province to be able to say, well, this is exempt and that’s exempt”, losing these exemptions for green products is one of the “things that we give up” under HST.
Fleming noted that the province's total exemptions allowed under the new tax will be capped at five per cent of the gross annual sales of all taxable good and services, and that the B.C. Liberal government has chosen to dedicate most of these exemptions to fossil fuels.
“Almost all of the remaining tax exemptions allowed under the B.C. Liberals’ new sales tax are taken up by the credits for gasoline and motor fuel, leaving no room for the government to create tax policy exemptions for consumers who want to purchase environmentally-friendly items like Energy Star appliances and windows, heat pumps, solar energy installations and bicycles,” said Fleming.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for this government to campaign on a platform highlighting incentives for green choices and promising not to bring in a new sales tax, and then to turn around after the election and do just the opposite,” said Ralston.
“Finance Minister Colin Hansen’s about-face on a new sales tax has caught consumers and many small businesses by surprise. With small businesses and families across the province struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to catch British Columbians off-guard with a new tax without any consultation.”
Finance Minister’s Credibility On The Line As Pressure Mounts Over Campbell’s New Sales Tax
VICTORIA – Finance Minister Colin Hansen’s improbable claim that the B.C. Liberals were not considering a new sales tax until after the provincial election undermines the remaining credibility of the Campbell government, the New Democrats said today.
“Minister Hansen is trying to claim he wasn’t aware that Ontario was adopting a Bruce RalstonBruce Ralstonharmonized tax until late May. But the premier of Ontario was talking about his plans in February, so it’s simply inconceivable that this issue wasn’t on the B.C. government’s radar until after the election,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston .
Finance Minister Colin Hansen has claimed that he only started to consider bringing in a new sales tax mere days after the election, telling the media yesterday that the “harmonized sales tax was not on our radar" and only “became obvious” after the election.
After stating during the election campaign that any move toward tax harmonization would be “a major concern” and that they had “no plans” to do so, late last week the B.C. Liberals pulled an about-face and announced they will be merging the PST with the GST.
“Either the finance minister is completely over his head on this file, or he has been blatantly misleading British Columbians,” said Ralston.
“Coming from the minister who continued to claim that his government would keep their promise on a $495 million deficit for months after leading business leaders said it clearly wasn’t achievable, this is the last straw. British Columbians just can’t trust this minister to tell the truth about the B.C. Liberals’ plans.”
Ralston noted he questioned former Finance Minister Carole Taylor in the legislature last year, and she said at the time that despite pressure from the federal minister her government was not harmonizing the sales tax.
“Finance Minister Colin Hansen’s about-face on a new sales tax has caught consumers and many industries by surprise. With small businesses and families across the province struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to catch British Columbians off guard with a new tax after no consultation,” said Ralston.
Carole James and the New Democrats have been holding Gordon Campbell accountable for his broken election promises, including his promise to protect health and education and his failure to admit until after the election that the deficit will be significantly higher than promised.
Under the Campbell government, B.C. has had the worst rate of full-time job losses, the second-worst performing economy, and the highest level of child poverty in the country.
Campbell’s New Tax Discourages Cycling, Exposes B.C. Liberal Environmental Hypocrisy
VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal HST betrayal will hurt the environment by making cycling and other green alternatives less affordable, New Democrat leader Carole James said today. James was joined by members of Victoria’s cycling community at a local Carole JamesCarole Jamesbike shop to highlight the impact of the HST on cycling. She said the new HST betrays the B.C. Liberal election promise to tackle climate change.
“The new 12 per cent HST exposes the environmental hypocrisy of the B.C. Liberals,” said James. “During the election, Premier Campbell promised not to bring in the HST and to take action to tackle climate change. With this one decision to impose a new 12 per cent tax on environmentally friendly alternatives like bicycles, the B.C. Liberals have put the lie to both those promises.”
Bicycles have been PST-exempt since 1981 in B.C., but the new HST changes that. In addition to imposing a new tax on bikes, the B.C. Liberals’ February 2009 budget cut cycling infrastructure despite their claims about encouraging cycling through the Bike B.C. program.
“Cycling is our fastest growing mode of transportation, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. When it comes to cycling, Victoria is setting standards across the country demonstrating the viability of cycling as an environmentally friendly, convenient and low cost commuting alternative. During a time when governments across the world are looking at ways to encourage cycling, our government has imposed a brand new tax on bikes. It just doesn’t make sense - and this decision must be reversed,” said John Luton, Capital Bike and Walk Society Executive Director and Vancouver Island Cycle Tourism Alliance Coordinator.
“Gordon Campbell’s HST betrayal is bad for the economy, bad for jobs, and bad for the environment,” said James. “And it comes at the worst possible time for families struggling to make ends meet. That’s why New Democrats are fighting the HST and joining with British Columbians to stop this hurtful new tax.”
In addition to bicycles, the HST will force British Columbians to pay a lot more for food, meals at restaurants, funerals, real estate, theatre tickets, renovations, vitamins, school supplies, and more.
REALITY CHECK: Are The B.C. Liberals Planning A Costly Ad Campaign To Explain Away Their HST Betrayal?
News Release | Reality Check | Front Page | English
On Friday, when Gordon Campbell was asked if his government was going to unroll a costly HST advertising campaign, he said:
“We’re not planning to do that” (CKNW, Aug. 7, 2009)
But obviously even his finance minister didn’t believe him, because today Colin Hansen said:
“We’re working hard to put materials together that really help explain it to British Columbians” (CHNL, Aug. 10, 2009) ( the email is just the start)
Instead of wasting money trying to convince people that paying more for everything is a good idea, the Campbell government should listen to the vast majority of British Columbians and scrap their plans to implement the HST.
B.C. Liberals’ Betrayal On PST Commission Will Cost Businesses Thousands
VICTORIA – Businesses will lose thousands of dollars a year when the commission they receive for collecting sales tax on behalf of the provincial government is cancelled under the B.C. Liberals’ new HST, the New Democrats said today.
Finance Minister Colin Hansen confirmed yesterday afternoon that the commission will be eliminated next year.
“The elimination of the PST commission will hit small businesses by up to $2,400 a year. Coming on top of the lost sales many small businesses are expecting when the B.C. Liberals’ new tax takes effect next year, this will be a big blow to many small business owners who are working hard to make it through the economic downturn,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston.
Ralston noted that last October Gordon Campbell announced as part of his “10-point plan” that the government would be doubling the commission paid to businesses for collecting the PST.
At the time, the premier claimed this would “lower costs for B.C.’s businesses and add to their cash flow almost immediately. These measures will help small businesses and their families through these tough times.
“Only nine months later, Gordon Campbell has already tossed one of the points of his 10-point economic plan out the window. The premier clearly can’t be trusted to follow through on his promises to small businesses and average families,” said Ralston.
After saying during the election campaign that they were not going to bring in a new sales tax, the B.C. Liberals turned around and did just the opposite.
“The B.C. Liberals’ new sales tax has caught consumers and many small businesses by surprise. With small businesses and families across the province struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to bring in a new tax, particularly without any consultation,” said Ralston.
MLA Dave Hayer Should Stand Up For Constituents Concerned About HST, Says NDP
SURREY – Liberal MLA Dave Hayer’s weak attempt to defend the Campbell government’s new Harmonized Sales Tax is a betrayal of his constituents who are calling on him to stand up for their concerns, the New Democrats said today.
“Many families and small businesses in Surrey will be hurt by the HST. Mr. Hayer Bruce RalstonBruce Ralstonshould know that introducing a new tax when families are struggling to make ends meet, without any public consultation, is outrageous,” New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston said.
On a South Asian radio interview yesterday, Hayer, the MLA for Surrey-Tynehead, repeatedly dismissed the concerns of the many constituents who called in to express their strong opposition to the new sales tax.
“By attempting to defend this tax grab, Dave Hayer is failing to represent the concerns of his constituents,” said Ralston. “The number of angry and frustrated constituents who called out Hayer is representative of the strong opposition that is building up against the Campbell government. The public has had enough of the B.C. Liberal government’s broken promises. People want their MLAs to listen to their concerns and stand up for their rights.”
After telling British Columbians during the campaign that they would not bring in an HST, just two months later the B.C. Liberals announced a new sales tax. The HST will be added on to items that were previously PST exempt, resulting in consumers paying an additional seven per cent for many everyday products and services, such as haircuts, cab rides, restaurant meals, and even funeral services.
“This seven per cent tax increase, during a difficult economic time, will have a strong impact on consumer spending. Small businesses in particular will suffer harsh consequences as a result of the B.C. Liberals’ betrayal,” said Ralston. “If Mr. Hayer really cares about small businesses in Surrey, he will stop acting as an apologist for the premier and stand up against this tax.”
Ralston noted that the restaurant industry alone estimates that the HST will cost them $750 million a year in lost sales, or $50,000 per year for the average restaurant, which could lead to job losses and even drive restaurants out of business.
REALITY CHECK: B.C. Liberals Continue To Break Rank On HST As Public Opposition Skyrockets
Colin Hansen and Gordon Campbell are facing even more dissent from their own colleagues for the ill-conceived HST. Meanwhile, public opinion polls demonstrate overwhelming opposition to the tax grab and election betrayal.
* 2009 B.C. Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Kensington Syrus Lee
told radio listeners on Tuesday that he opposes the HST saying, "If it's revenue neutral, why would the government do it?" (Fairchild, Aug. 11, 2009)
* B.C. Liberal Vancouver-Fraserview constituency association president David Choi
said on a public radio forum this weekend that the government had "no mandate to implement the HST without public consultation." (Fairchild, Aug. 15, 2009)
* Fairchild radio released a listeners' poll this weekend that clearly shows the Chinese community in B.C. is overwhelmingly against the HST. Ninety-nine per cent of over 3,000 voters oppose the HST, saying they feel it's a tax grab without consultation, is not revenue neutral, and is a broken election promise by Gordon Campbell.
B.C. Liberals from the past and present have already broken rank from Gordon Campbell and Colin Hansen, questioning their HST betrayal and ongoing lies about the timing of the decision and its impact on consumers:
* Former B.C. Liberal deputy premier Christy Clark
says she doesn’t “think it’s possible” that the minister and the premier only considered implementing the HST after the election, saying “it was quite clear that British Columbia was going to be faced with this decision in March when Ontario adopted it, and they never thought to mention it to the voting public. I mean, it’s just sneaky all around.” (CBC radio, Aug. 14, 2009)
* Colin Hansen suggested last week that he knew about Ontario’s plans before the election, saying he “did not know that Ontario was going to go to an HST system until they announced it on March 26th” adding “I’m assuming that officials in the ministry have those conversations with federal officials” before the election. (CKNW, Aug. 13, 2009)
* Former B.C. Liberal MLA John Nuraney
said there were ongoing talks about HST while he was a member of the B.C. Liberal caucus, and also said the new tax will be a “significant” blow to his restaurant business. (straight.com, Aug. 13, 2009)
* Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett
has suggested consumers will see prices rise, saying “That is a concern… I have some concerns.” (Williams LakeTribune, Aug. 13, 2009)
* Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger
has admitted that many businesses will be hurt by the HST, saying the “HST is going to be good for all concerned, but there are exceptions.” (Times Colonist, Aug. 9, 2009)
Gordon Campbell needs to listen to the Chinese community and British Columbians across the province and stop the HST.
Source: Opposition Caucus