Editor: I know there is great debate over this issue, and actually good arguments from both sides. Let us begin with stating that the way the HST was introduced in B.C. was shameful, shady, unethical, and a travesty. The Liberals should have known better.
But let’s be careful about throwing out the baby with the bathwater. You may indeed want to punish the Liberals for their arrogance or stupidity, but removing the HST is not the way.
For many (and I would argue for the province overall), it is much better to keep the HST than attempt to revert back to the previous system. There are many reasons for this. But if the HST is rescinded, it means:
r A waste of millions of tax dollars in both implementing and removing it (which amounts to money not invested in the medical or education systems, and other social programs). We’ve already wasted millions over the arguments, advertising and legalities.
r That other taxes will be increased or implemented to replace the revenues that the HST is bringing in now. If you think removing the HST will reduce taxes you are seriously mistaken.
r Thwarting certain business advantages in B.C. Many businesses (especially mid-sized) are realizing a benefit with the HST system and that’s good for the province and ultimately our economy and us as consumers.
Now I realize that many small businesses are hurting and they are often quick to blame the HST for redducing their clientele. I have one friend who calls the HST the final death nail, or perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back. But the thing is, there has to be a lot of weight on the camel already before a single straw can have any such impact.
The weight we have endured, long before anything to do with the HST came along, has been a harsh economy. Costs are rising, wages aren’t. Housing in the Vancouver area just gets crazier. Liquor laws change and are enforced more stringently, which affects business at pubs, bars and restaurants.
We’ve been dealing with perhaps the toughest recession since the 1930s. This all means that everyone is tight on money and can’t quite afford what they used to, so they must cut back and be more selective on where and on what they spend their money.
It’s either that or increase their personal debt. Add to that the ebb and flow of tourism and the Canadian dollar and you already have a weight too big to carry. It really is this weight that people feel crushed under, but don’t feel they can do anything about.
The HST comes along and it feels unfair… very unfair, and it is. And we think that this time we can push back, so we do. But costs also increase for government. When teachers, doctors and nurses get a new contract, who is paying for this, where is the money coming from? Our taxes.
As it turns out, both our health services and education costs make up a fair portion of the budget. A business or a government cannot run long with a deficit, not in this global economy. Look around the world and see the trouble many countries are facing.
We will be paying more taxes whether we want to or not. If we get rid of the HST, they’ll find another way. But none of them will be better or as efficient as the HST.
What the Liberals should have done was reduce the B.C.’s portion of the HST at the same time it was introduced. They did not, and apparently they could not reduce it any sooner based on the contract with Canada. Too bad. This could very well have made the whole issue moot.
However, the provincial portion will be reduced to six per cent on July 1, 2012 and to five per cent on July 1, 2014. This will bring the overall HST to 10 per cent. If the referendum to remove the HST wins, then these reductions will not happen and we will continue to pay seven per cent PST, plus five per cent GST.
If you want to waste money, set this province back and pay even more tax within the next few years, then vote to remove the HST. But if you care about our economy and keeping taxes down as much as possible in the midst of hard times, vote to keep the HST.
You can always punish the Liberals at the polls in the next election. I strongly encourage you to vote to keep the HST. It’s the right thing to do, regardless of the shameful way it was introduced, or what happens to the Liberals.