Surprise Decision on New Sales Tax Could Cost Tourism and Service Jobs

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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 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.