A roller-coaster of a news story that mobilized the citizenry last year is ready to pick up our sentiments again with HST referendum ballots now in eligible voters’ hands.
It’s unfortunate that the non-transparent way a sound economic policy was introduced has made it a political punching bag of epic proportions, pulling debate away from the tax’s benefits.
Yes, the HST represents a tax shift from small and large businesses to consumers, but it should not be assumed that every move that’s good for business is bad for the rest of the populace. Everyone benefits from a healthy economy, directly or indirectly.
And with the concessions now put on the table — rebates to lower-income seniors and to families with children, and the gradual lowering of the overall rate to 10 per cent, for example — those who are least able to fork out extra money for discretionary spending items will be compensated to a large degree.
Despite those changes, Opponents will continue to lobby against the HST, but without paying heed to the informed opinions of a huge number of professional organizations that agree the HST trumps the PST/GST combo as a more efficient and sensible system that stimulates investment — and one that has already been chosen by some 140 countries.
Perhaps most significantly for a tourism-dependent economy like the Gulf Islands, the Tourism Industry Association of B.C. is now in favour of the HST, especially with the 10 per cent level promised to come. Ontario also implemented the HST last year and reports that business is not the only sector to benefit.
A June 30 Global Toronto article notes that University of Toronto professor Michael Smart, who studied the impact of the HST in Ontario after it was in place for six months, “concluded it was benefitting consumers and would bring them more relief in future” as tax credits experienced by business were passed on even further.
The deadline for putting the HST referendum ballots in the mail is Aug. 5. There’s a number of conflicting claims and political rhetoric clouding this issue. People should look at the motivation behind all of them before making a decision that’s important for the economic future of the entire province.