Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ontario Liberals and Taxes during the Recession

Harmonized sales tax punishes Northerners

Posted By Rick Owen
25 September 2009
The truth is finally coming out about the McGuinty Liberal's harmonized tax.
There are no benefits for consumers, it is a tax grab by the provincial government.
Package the combined provincial sales tax and federal goods and services tax any way you want, the end result is the same, increased taxes and less money to spend on goods and services.
People in Northern Ontario will get hit harder than people in southern Ontario. For example the cost of heating our homes and businesses will increase by eight percent. When you take into account the age of houses in Northern
Ontario, our longer winters and colder temperatures, this tax will put undue financial pressure on Northerners. Yes heating bills in the south will also go up eight percent, but in hard dollars their increase will be much less.
The same holds true for gasoline. In Northern Ontario we have less people spread over larger distances, which means we have to use our vehicles more. For instance how many places in southern Ontario do you have to drive one or two hours to get to a big box store or an indoor mall?
On cold winter morning we have to warm our vehicles up before driving them, again this results in
increased fuel consumption and higher costs.
If you have children involved in sports in the North you have to travel farther distances than people in the south so your children can take part in activities they enjoy. The result more money spent on gasoline.
As well in the North we already pay a premium price for gasoline. When you add eight percent on top, in hard money it results in people in North getting hit harder in the pocket book than people in the south.
In the North we have fewer options for transportation. For instance we don't have Go buses and trains. We don't have half hour or hourly service between our communities. We have no choice but to use our vehicle more.
When have to spend more money on tax we have less money to spend in local stores, on building materials, on groceries. At a time when the government is urging people to spend money so we can emerge from this worldwide recession how does it make sense to raise taxes?
The Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who was in Kirkland Lake this week, is making fighting this tax increase a priority for her party. She also understands how the tax will hit Northerners harder than it will hit people in the south.
The NDP has a petition campaign to stop the harmonized tax and to date have collected 70,000 signatures. No matter what your political stripe is, people in the North should take a long hard look at how much a harmonized tax will cost them and how it will have a negative impact on the Northern economy. You know the extra money collected is not going to return to the North.
When will governments realize that voters do have brains, they do think and they don't accept decisions of the government as being good for them just because the government says so.
Government need to know the public is not being fooled. A tax increase by any other name is still a tax increase.
If the McGuinty Liberals want harmony in the province they should back down from this unpopular tax increase that will hurt the people who can least afford it.
Harmonized sales tax bad for business: NDP

Rick Owen, Northern News
23 September 2009
The Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath made a stop in Kirkland Lake Monday on her way to the International Plowing Match in Earlton.
The stop in Kirkland Lake was part of a Northern tour that also took her Timmins. Early this year Horwath was in Northwestern Ontario getting to know people and issues.
Right now the NDP is in a campaign to inform residence of Ontario about how the harmonization of the provincial sales tax and federal goods and services tax will increase the amount of tax they pay.
"I've been travelling across the province for a couple of months now talking Ontarians about the harmonized sales tax," said Horwath. "It's got a lot more interest recently because a lot more people are learning about it. When I was first starting out in the beginning of the summer a lot of people weren't even aware the harmonized sales tax was coming down the pipes."
If the government has its way and the harmonized sales tax is put in place July 1, 2010 Horwath said life will get a whole lot more expensive for a lot more people. Some of the significant items that will increase in price by eight percent include, natural gas, home heating fuel, hydro, and car fuel.
She also noted that every time you buy a coffee and donut it will cost you eight percent more. People who have pets will pay eight percent more on their vet bills and if you use an accountant or lawyer it will also cost you eight percent more.
"Small businesses are pretty concerned about the impact of the HST. At a time when we would want people spend more in the community, this tax is going to do the opposite. It is gong to reduce the amount of spending because everything is going to be more expensive," said Horwath.
"That is why we think it is not only the wrong tax, because it shifts the tax burden from big business to consumer, we also think it is the wrong time. It will reduce the amount of spending and that's not good in this kind of economy."
Horwath said the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a study that states the HST will slow the development of new jobs in Ontario by 40,000 jobs a year.
"At a time when we need jobs the last thing the government should do is bring in policies that slow job growth," said the NDP leader.
The NDP has a petition campaign to stop the HST and to date Horwath said they have more than 70,000 signatures opposing the harmonized tax.
Horwath has noted during her travels in the North that Northerners overall are not pleased with the lack of consideration they are getting from this government, whether that's on forestry and mining jobs, access to health care, closure of hospitals in smaller communities, school closures.
She sees the HST on gasoline as being a double hit for Northerners because Northerners already pay more for gasoline and they have fewer alternatives for transportation and must drive more.
As well in Northern Ontario the winters are colder and longer so the HST will impact Northerners more on heating and electrical costs than people living in southern Ontario.
As a result of this dissatisfaction the leader anticipates that nest election Northerners will reconsider how they mark their ballot. She said there a number of close races in all parts of the province last election including Timiskaming.
"These (Northern) economies are being battered, whole communities are shutting down. The government has had no plan to try and sustain what is really a unique and quite marvelous way of life. "
One of the reason John Vanthof came close to beating David Ramsay last election Horwath said is because of the local organization and because Vanthof is so well known and respected.
Horwath said one of the challenges she is working on across the province is working on strengthening local NDP organizations across the province, noting that part of winning an election is winning it on the ground.
As well the leader is looking at transferring lost jobs from manufacturing into green jobs and projects and factories that provide components for green energy.
"One of the things I've talked about is what has happened in in Quebec, they've put a 60 percent buy Quebec policy in place for green energy projects and as a result they are single largest manufacturer of wind turbines is in Quebec" said Horwath.
"As well the leader would like to see a 60 percent buy local policy on infrastructure projects that tax money is going into, so local people n Ontario will get back to work.
I don't believe we will ever have a good strong economy that gives people a decent quality of life, with decent benefits and decent pensions unless we are able to maintain a core manufacturing and forestry sector. It is obvious the McGuinty Liberals don't feel the same way." said Horwath.