Changes to the HST 

British Columbians will soon receive their HST referendum ballot in the mail, and will have a very important decision to make.

British Columbians will soon receive their HST referendum ballot in the mail, and will have a very important decision to make.

The HST referendum will determine whether to keep the HST, or take a step backwards and reinstate the GST and PST.

I’m writing today because I believe you should know the facts. The Independent Panel on the HST determined that the average family was paying about $350 more a year in taxes — we listened and responded.

And when more than 275,000 people from across B.C. participated in telephone town halls to offer their suggestions on how to improve the HST — again, we listened. Then again, we responded.

We committed to reduce the HST to 10 per cent.

These changes, announced by Premier Christy Clark mean that B.C. families will, on average, be $120 better off on their routine expenditures than they were under the combined PST and GST system. To help transition until the rate drops, families will receive $175 per child under 18, and each senior with low or modest income will receive a one-time transition cheque for $175.

Support for families is just one reason I will vote no in the upcoming referendum, another is the cost of going back.

The cost of returning to the GST and PST system would cost our province roughly $3 billion — a truly staggering amount.

In a time where health care and education account for half of the government’s budget, we cannot afford to lose $3 billion.

So the choice we have this summer is clear.

Do we choose a 10 per cent HST that puts families first? Or do we choose a 12 per cent GST and PST and take a step backwards?

It’s not my job to tell you the answer, but it is my job to make sure you make an informed decision.

I believe that the HST is the best tax for the employees, businesses, and families of British Columbia, so I’m voting no to higher taxes. I’m voting to keep the HST.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo Chilcotin.