As the economic crisis continues to endanger jobs and force down wages British Columbians are faced with another attack. On July 23th, 2009 the right-wing B.C. Liberal government announced its intention to implement a Harmonized Sales Tax by July 1st, 2010. Despite explicit promises not to introduce such a tax during the last provincial election in May, the Liberal government persists in forcing working class British Columbians to pay for the failing capitalist economy.
The Harmonized Sales Tax combines two taxes, the Provincial Sales Tax and the federal Goods and Services Tax, into one federally administered sales tax. When this takes place, almost everything which PST does not apply to will see a 7% increase in cost. Among these are some of the most important parts a working class family's budget such as: residential fuels (electricity, natural gas) and heating, food products, non-prescription medication, work-related safety equipment, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and household maintenance such as renovations and painting. Even grieving families will now pay 7% more at a funeral home.
The Harmonized Tax system puts a massive weight on working people in British Columbia. Northern B.C.ers who are seeing forestry jobs lost and already pay far more for many essential products will now see home heating costs increase dramatically. Commuters in urban areas will see bicycles and bicycle repairs jump in price, which continues the B.C. Liberal policy of profits before people and the environment.
Youth will be affected drastically by the new system. Movies and theatre tickets, repairs for home appliances, and other costs often born by young people will increase substantially. Even school supplies will see a 7% increase in cost when students already pay a criminal tuition fee to attend college or university. While the Liberals refuse to raise minimum wage or legislate a living wage system they continue to increase taxes on those who fall below the poverty line.
To add insult to injury the B.C. Liberal government will receive a 1.6 billion dollar payout from the federal Conservative government to implement this system. As working people try to balance meager budgets the provincial sellout continues. If it was not clear before, British Columbians now know exactly how much they sell for in the capitalist market.
- Interim BC Provincial Committee, August 2009