Death of HST an opportunity to update cumbersome PST

Sicamous Chamber of Commerce president John Schlosar appreciates the democratic process that saw 55 per cent of British Columbians vote to extinguish the 12 per cent harmonized sales tax in favour of returning to the two tax system of the seven per cent provincial sales tax (PST) and the give per cent federal goods and services tax (GST).

Democracy has prevailed, now it’s time to move forward.

Sicamous Chamber of Commerce president John Schlosar appreciates the democratic process that saw 55 per cent of British Columbians vote to extinguish the 12 per cent harmonized sales tax in favour of  returning to the two tax system of the seven per cent provincial sales tax (PST) and the give per cent federal goods and services tax (GST). But he says the turmoil over the HST has come at a tremendous cost to the province – the resignation of two provincial political party leaders, recall referendums, the HST referendum, and all the time, money and effort involved.

“People are still very confused about where we are. We’ve sort of lost our focus in a way, so that’s been a huge cost,” says Schlosar. “These things happen and we’ll survive it all… It’s not the end of the world.”

Like his counterparts with the B.C. chamber, Schlosar wishes to move forward, but with the hope that the provincial government, in the 18 month transitional phase back to the PST, will consult with the public and look at ways the in which the administratively cumbersome tax could be improved.

“Really, what it comes down to is, if we end up with a new shiny, more equitable and less inefficient PST, that would be good for all,” says Schlosar.

Regarding the referendum’s outcome, Schlosar said he was somewhat surprised, as late polls indicated British Columbians were changing their minds on the tax.

In MLA George Abbott’s Shuswap riding, a total of 22,332 ballots were returned with 11,202 residents or 50.16 per cent voting no, or in favour of keeping the HST. There were 11,130 people or 49.84 per cent who voted yes, a difference of only 72 votes.

In Liberal MLA Eric Foster’s Vernon-Monashee riding, there were 24,708 votes cast with 12,581, or 50.92 per cent, voting yes to defeat the HST. A total of 12,127 or 49.08 per cent voted no.

B.C. finance minister Kevin Falcon said Friday an action plan has been established to guide the transition process and help ensure an effective and orderly transition from the HST to the PST plus GST system in B.C.

The PST will be reinstated at seven per cent with all permanent PST exemptions. The province may make some administrative improvements to streamline the PST.

The transition period is expected to take a minimum of 18 months. During this period, the provincial portion of the HST will remain in place at seven per cent.

While Foster and Abbott both expressed disappointment with the result, NDP leader Adrian Dix called Friday’s result “A victory for democracy.”

“The people won over the arrogance of the Liberal government and its powerful friends. It is a victory for fairness,” said Dix. “For a decade, the Liberal Party has shifted the tax burden onto B.C. families. A return to the PST will be good for communities, good for families and good for small business. It will make life a little bit more affordable for working families. It will also ensure that British Columbia has control over its sales tax policy, now and in the future.”

Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tate Bengston said Friday the result leaves his membership with mixed feelings.

“The HST was really important to some, they’re sad and disappointed it’s going and uncertain what it will mean in terms of implications. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns and that’s a big concern,” said Bengston. “Other members that were not as favourable are happy to see it go, but uncertainty is a concern for them as well. Nobody knows what we’re looking at from here on out.”

The BC Fruit Growers’ Association is another group disappointed with Friday’s result, but has stated it will respect the wishes of the electorate.

Joe Sardinha, president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association (BCFGA), threw his and the association’s support behind the HST because he said it was the best way of streamlining the tax system and improving the viability of B.C.’s farm families.

 

“Since food is not taxed, inputs to produce food should be exempted,” said Sardinha. “Growers would now like to see an efficient, simple and fair tax system in B.C. The BCFGA is requesting that government reinstate a provincial sales tax exemption for all farm inputs.”

 

 

Just Posted

Counsellors: Grief can come in many forms after Salmon Arm shooting

Community members urged to stay connected with others following trauma

Transportation ministry promises paving near Salmon Arm, Sicamous

Salmon Valley Road, Yankee Flats Road and Highway 1 near Sicamous on the resurfacing list

Salmon Arm RCMP reminds public to lock up valuables

Police say most theft from vehicle complaints involve cars left unlocked overnight

A campaign encourages families to put down their phones and talk this Mother’s Day

OpenTable’s #DiningMode gets Okanagan restaurants on board with a no phone policy while dining

Man caught with sawed-off shotgun in Salmon Arm enters guilty plea

A Feb. 2018 traffic stop led to the initial arrest of 34-year-old Wayne Blood

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Olympian Andi Naude retires from freestyle skiing

Penticton native skied in 62 World Cup single and dual moguls events in her career

Most Read