Stage set for HST referendum

Delivery of three million voting packages for the HST referendum could be disrupted by postal workers' rotating strikes across the country.

VICTORIA – The federal government has changed regulations to allow a two-point rate reduction for B.C.’s harmonized sales tax, and Canada Post has started delivering ballots to all regions outside the Lower Mainland.

Delivery of three million voting packages for the HST referendum could be disrupted by postal workers’ rotating strikes across the country. HST ballots are scheduled to be sent Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley starting June 20.

Voters who don’t receive a package in the mail by Friday, June 24 may call Elections BC toll free at 1-800-661-8683 to register or update their address. The deadline to request a voting package is midnight Friday, July 8.

B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said a change to federal tax regulations commits the province to lower the HST rate if a majority of voters choose to stay with the HST. At B.C.’s request, the federal cabinet order lowers the provincial portion of HST to six per cent on July 1, 2012 and to five per cent on July 1, 2014.

The B.C. government has also offered transition payments to offset consumer costs for parents and seniors earning less than $40,000 a year. Each child under 18 or low-income senior would receive $175, but only if the HST survives the referendum.

“We are confident British Columbians will agree that a 10 per cent tax rate is better for B.C. families than the old 12 per cent PST and GST system and will vote ‘no’ in the referendum,” Falcon said.

Businesses that have to charge customers an extra seven per cent tax on services and previously exempt items such as bicycles have struggled with the tax.

Stephen Regan, president of the Tourism Association of B.C., said the industry can accept the HST once it is reduced to 11 per cent next year and 10 per cent in 2014.

The HST adds seven per cent to event tickets and an array of labour services not previously covered by provincial sales tax.

“Part of our challenge was that the impacts of the new harmonized tax were different for different parts of tourism both by business type and by location,” Regan said. “Hotel prices went down, the cost of restaurant meals went up, and businesses closer to Alberta, which does not have a provincial sales tax, were particularly sensitive to HST.”

Just Posted

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Chilliwack driver busted with heroin after nodding off behind the wheel

29-year-old man from Vancouver facing possible charges

Vancouver TheatreSports finishes off Harrison’s Season of Performing Arts

Vancovuer TheatreSports will be performing in Harrison on May 4

Get your rock and roll on with the Hope Mountain Centre

Centre is hosting its annual Peers Creek Boulder Toss

Judge questions joint submission for Chilliwack man who sexually assaulted girl

Crown, defence ordered to find case law to back up one-year sentencing for Andrew Mullaly

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read