The British Columbia Federation of Labour (BCFL) recently began sending mailings to thousands of B.C. residents campaigning against the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
A BCFL release states the federation’s analysis revealed a $1.6 billion cut to public services will come from the Liberal government’s “last-minute scramble” to reduce the HST to 10 per cent.
It also states B.C. residents will pay $1.3 billion a year more in taxes, while corporations get a $2-billion annual tax cut.
The leaflets are being sent to eight constituencies in the province, including Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s, where the BCFL estimates residents will pay more than $8.6 million more in sales tax each year.
Barnett says she’d like to see proof behind those numbers.
“I have no idea where they got the [$8.6 million] number from. As far as I’m concerned, they should prove their facts.
“You have no idea how much money people are going to spend; nobody does, until they spend it.”
The pro-HST Smart Tax Alliance (STA) is also accusing the BCFL of promoting inaccurate financial figures, and has called on Elections BC to investigate the federation’s anti-HST campaign.
However, BCFL president Jim Sinclair says the federation is willing to defend the accuracy of the figures it distributed.
Barnett says the “truth” is that under a 10 per cent HST, which will occur in 2014, the average family will save $120 annually.
“The only thing the government can do is give the facts as they know them on the books.”
Says Sinclair: “The people of British Columbia were deceived by the B.C. Liberal MLAs who have flip-flopped on the HST.
“They should feel cheated Premier [Christy] Clark and the B.C. Liberal MLAs are handing corporations another multi-billion-dollar tax cut, while British Columbians will pay more in taxes and get less in public services.”
Meanwhile, Barnett says she has a “real hard time” when people use “scare tactics,” such as those in the mailings.
She adds the mailings didn’t target all the ridings, so she believes it is all about the next provincial election.
“[The BCFL] only targeted the swing ridings, and the ones they threatened with recall.”
The tax policies of the provincial government are what creates jobs and keeps hospitals open, the local MLA explains, and keeps nurses, doctors and teachers working.
“The federation of labour is supposed to represent people who work for a living. If we don’t have jobs, there’s no work, there are no families, [and] there are no homes.”
Barnett says discarding the HST system and returning to the previous 12 per cent combined Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Goods & Services Tax (GST) system will leave a $3 billion hole in the budget.
This figure comes from a combination of $1.6 million required to repay to the federal government, she explains, with the balance calculated from the hit from lost revenues, likely showing up as a deficit.
However, Barnett doesn’t see the public services suffering under an HST system.
“The government will keep public services in the public sector at the highest standard.”