Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The campaign to put the proposed 'Harmonized Sales tax' to a referendum in British Columbia continues to gather steam, and people from both the right and left are lining up to oppose this tax grab. Here's a press release from the BC Federation of Labour about their view of the tax.

Commentary: BC Fed Opposes Unfair Taxes


Published in The Province newspaper May 14.

The labour movement is not against taxes.

We understand that taxes fund important public services and programs.

But the labour movement is against taxes that are dishonest and regressive. The HST is both. And, we simply cannot accept a tax that takes $2 billion from the pockets of British Columbians, many of whom are having trouble making ends meet, and gives it to corporations, many of which are already profitable.

This is the wrong tax at the wrong time for the wrong reasons.

It might be acceptable if the money generated by the HST went into healthcare, education and building a sustainable economy. But it won't. The HST will generate another tax holiday for corporations and vague promises that the rest of us will benefit one day.

The BC Liberals have fed us this line before.

They slashed income taxes by about $2 billion a year, disproportionately to the wealthy, and told us it would make us a stronger province.

The Liberals have already slashed corporate taxes by about $1.5 billion a year. They told us this would boost competitiveness, productivity and job growth.

Having cut $3.5 billion in annual provincial revenues who feels any richer?

A real estate and construction boom in some parts of the province may have created an illusion of prosperity for a while, but the BC economy is chronically underperforming most other provinces.

No matter how you measure it, the Liberal's tax slashing has failed to deliver the promised results. Employment growth has been lower than the 1990's. Investment in machinery and equipment in BC has barely increased. Even before the recession began in 2008, the forest industry had lost almost 24,000 good jobs. BC's per capita GDP is lower than it should be, our productivity is behind Alberta and Ontario, and our wages are below the Canadian average.

Tax cuts haven't worked. Instead, they have left a legacy of chronic cuts, closed schools, underfunded healthcare facilities, angry seniors, children without proper support, declining wages and growing unemployment.

The Liberals never tire of telling us that people don't like paying taxes. But that's only a half truth. People understand value for money, and most people don't mind paying fair taxes to build a strong province.

What people really don't like is being lied to and taken for fools.

Hundreds of thousands of British Columbians are voicing their anger and opposition to the HST. The Liberals should listen. They should cancel the HST and muster the courage to begin talking to British Columbians about honest and fair taxation that makes us all stronger.

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