REALITY CHECK: B.C. construction industry: poster child for the HST takes big hit

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When the B.C. Liberals broke their word and imposed the HST, they claimed the new tax would lead to more jobs in the construction industry. The government claimed that 46 per cent of the benefits from the HST would flow to the construction industry. But the facts show that six months after the HST took effect, construction workers and their families have yet to see any real benefit from the HST.

  • Building permits down: According to Statistics Canada, B.C. had the second-worst drop-off in building permits in November, ranking ahead of only Newfoundland. In November, B.C. saw a 43.4 per-cent drop in the value of building permits. Vancouver fared even worse, with a 60.4 per-cent drop.
  • Worst record on job losses: B.C. had the worst job loss record in the country last month, losing 22,000 jobs in December, of which a shocking 20,000 were full-time jobs. Around half of those jobs were in construction, which saw 10,200 jobs lost in December alone. Rather than sparking new jobs, there were 3.5 per cent fewer jobs in construction in December than one year previous. Despite an increasing population, B.C. finished off 2010 with 1,900 fewer full-time jobs than it started the year with.
  • New homes stagnant: Statistics Canada blames lower construction intentions in British Columbia in November as a major cause of Canada’s 22.4 per-cent drop to $1.1 billion in the value of multi-family dwelling building permits, the lowest it’s been since February 2010. Residential building permits fell by 51 per cent in B.C. in November, a 27.9 per-cent drop from the previous year.

Peter Simpson, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Homebuilders Association said in September that the announcement of the HST was a slap in the face, and that the uncertainty caused by the delay of the referendum was “the other cheek getting slapped.”

Under the B.C. Liberal government, between 2001 and 2009 B.C. had the lowest growth in average hourly wages and the second-lowest growth in weekly wages in Canada.

The B.C. New Democrats’ vision for a strong, dynamic economy includes a fair and competitive tax environment, support for small business, fiscal responsibility, a fair minimum wage with predictable increases, and investment in green jobs to diversify our economic base.