Lewis F. Kornes told us that One always looking for flaws leaves too little time for construction; a message the NDP and MLA Norm Macdonald need to contemplate as British Columbians grow weary of their continual negativism and their inability to deliver anything constructional.
There is not a B.C. Liberal in the province that will tell you that the implementation of the HST was the former Premiers finest hour; frankly it was far from it. What we will tell you is that Premier Christy Clark has heard from British Columbians and is putting in the corrections, enabling a far better tax than the old PST and GST system.
Seeking input from British Columbians, the government engaged in an unprecedented listening exercise and heard from more than 275,000 constituents from across the province who shared their ideas on how we can improve the tax. People told us that the benefits of the HST needed to be clearly articulated with accessible and understandable explanations made available.
Further to this, an independent panel of financial experts, commissioned by the Premier, gave a comprehensive summary of their HST findings, which included the realization that the HST added an average cost to B.C. Families of $350. In response Premier Clark has proposed changes that are bold, responsive, fair and balanced and address the governments key principles: ensuring the governments commitment to balanced budgets without placing additional tax burdens on B.C. families and seniors with modest incomes. The changes will soon be introduced in a motion to the legislature that will confirm and commit to the following:
There will be a two per cent point drop in the provincial HST rate from 7 per cent to 5 per cent. A one per cent point drop on July 1st, 2012 and an additional one per cent point on July 1st, 2014.
Families will receive a transition cheque for $175 per child under the age of 18, and seniors with family incomes of up to $40,000 will receive a transition cheque of $175.
This legislation will also put money back into the pockets of B.C. families. We will pay less on routine expenditures, reversing the $350 deficit to families as calculated by the independent panel, and changing it to a positive cash flow of $120. Provincial tax policy officials are currently in discussions with the Canada Revenue Agency on how best to administer the one-time transitional payments and these payments will be made as soon as the process is worked through.
These changes represent a strong beginning and we realize that there is still more to do, like addressing the HST on recreational and second homes.
No matter what Norm Macdonald and the NDP tell you, Premier Clark and the BC Liberals have heard loud and clear about peoples concerns and I believe that the proposed changes show we have listened.
President, Columbia River Revelstoke B.C. Liberal Riding Association