HST, an Expensive Step Backward

Hang onto your pocket book – a week from today, the Liberals’ much-maligned Harmonized Sales Tax will come into force in Ontario.
The province will officially hand over its sales tax authority to Stephen Harper and the federal government. Good thing the fake lake was built before July 1.

Instead of using tax policy to create incentives for 21st century green jobs, the HST will increase the costs of sustainable services and green products. The Liberals have chosen to punish those trying to lead a green lifestyle.

If the McGuinty government was serious about tackling smog and sprawl, promoting health and economic efficiency, it would not be increasing taxes on a list of items which help people live healthy green lifestyles. The HST will raise taxes on bicycles, domestic rail, and commercial bus tickets. The HST hurts efforts to prevent illness by increasing the cost of vitamins, gym fees, sports training, and visits to the dentist.

The HST will hit small and medium sized businesses - the backbone of our local economies and communities - especially hard. Ontario will take a step backward by taxing green builders, energy efficiency retrofits, and green energy installations.

The HST is particularly hard on the service sector, whose low resource use makes it one of the greenest in the economy. The Liberals’ new tax will increase the cost of a range of important services often provided by family businesses and independent professionals, including accounting, lawn care, massage, haircuts and dry cleaning.

The HST also inhibits smart investment in Ontario’s future, especially in the emerging creative economy. In today’s age, where online access increasingly means educational and economic advantage, the government will make the Internet more expensive. By raising taxes on art, campsite rentals, fishing licenses and live theatre admissions, the Liberal government will discourage tourism and community-building activities that strengthen local economies and support local artists.

The HST takes Ontario in the wrong direction. Instead, we need a Green Tax Cut to support sustainable job creation and to create incentives and rewards for people to live green and for businesses to produce green products and services.

It’s time for innovative 21st-century tax reform. It’s time for Green MPPs at Queen’s Park to make it happen.