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

Yale man arrested after fleeing police in downtown Hope

Man arrested on three outstanding warrants after being caught in stolen van

Tractor exhaust pipe causes fire on Agassiz field

Agassiz fire crews were on scene around 1 p.m. Tuesday

Waterworks situation on table at Hope District meeting

Council to make decision on 753 Waterworks transfer tonight

Still no decision on cannabis stores in Kent following public hearing

Staff will be bringing the bylaws back to council to include new amendments for location

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. teacher suspended for professional misconduct

Grade 8 shop teacher admits to use of vulgar language and profanities toward students

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Most Read