VICTORIA – More than a year after British Columbians soundly rejected the Liberals’ unfair tax shift in a referendum, Sept. 30 begins the six month countdown for families stuck with paying the HST on thousands of goods and services. Clearly the new found Liberal concern for affordability is more talk than action, say the New Democrats.
“If the Liberals really wanted to make life more affordable for British Columbians, they would work overtime to speed up the transition back to the PST,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “The truth is, it looks as if they’re trying to slow the process down.”
In May, the Liberals promised final regulations and legislation for the transition back to the PST would come forward during the fall sitting of the legislature beginning this October. In September, during the release of the province’s financial quarterly report, the finance minister said they are now delaying final transition amendments and regulations until December.
“Now that the Liberals have announced they plan to sidestep democracy by cancelling the fall sitting of the legislature, any PST legislation will have to wait to come before the house until February at the earliest,” said Ralston. “That doesn’t really leave a lot of time for debate, or time to implement changes before the promised transition date of April 1.”
Ralston said in the meantime, the HST continues to have a detrimental effect on many industries.
The negative impact of the HST on average families was a key issue raised by Adrian Dix and the New Democrats, with the tax increasing costs on everything from the first cup of coffee in the morning to basic phone and cable services and even funerals. It’s not surprising that according to the latest numbers available from Statistics Canada, British Columbia lagged behind the Canadian average in retail sales growth over the last year.
Peter Simpson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association, recently said he is concerned many home buyers will continue to hold off on renovations until April 2013, when the transition happens. Simpson said more than a third of respondents of a poll conducted at a recent home renovators conference said they plan to put renovations on hold until the PST is back in April.
“With the HST deception still looming, and a quarterly report showing the real deficit is hundreds of millions of dollars larger than the Liberals claimed in this year’s budget, things are looking awfully familiar,” said Ralston. “The election in 2013 is shaping up to look like the election in 2009 when the Liberals told voters they had no intention to implement the HST, and they promised the deficit would be $495 million ‘maximum.’
“Of course as soon as the election was over, the Liberals announced plans for the HST and told British Columbians the deficit was actually going to be six times that amount.”