We have heard a lot of talk about the downside of the HST. There is a lot of information online and in the media that does an excellent job addressing many of the unfounded claims by some of the most outspoken critics, so I will not do that here. Rather, I do want to share what the impact of the HST is on our company — an impact shared by many companies throughout B.C.
The HST reduces our cost of production, increasing our competitiveness and ability to reinvest in our mills. Plus, it significantly reduces the administrative complexities and expense of working under separate provincial and federal sales tax systems.
Our contractors agree: Sue Hagarty, Controller of Roga Contracting says, “The introduction of HST has allowed Roga to reduce its costs in areas such as trucking, road building and crew transportation. This cost reduction has helped us retain our longterm workforce while the industry continues to stabilize itself.“
The HST is definitely making our industry stronger, which helps make our province stronger. A more competitive forest products industry supports above-average wages for thousands of families, strong contribution to local economies through our municipal taxation payments, and provides opportunities for countless secondary businesses, suppliers, and transporters. We are in a highly competitive global market during an extremely difficult period for our industry. Every advantage to meet the international pricing levels to be a player in countries like China and Japan is crucial. Likewise, every disadvantage (like operating under an antiquated taxation system) hurts.
Still you may ask, how do we know that the HST will leave you and your family better off? Perhaps most telling is what the premiers of provinces with HST are saying about our choice. When asked what would happen if the HST were defeated in B.C., Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty said: “There’s no doubt about it, it will give us a competitive advantage.” Ontario introduced the HST at the same time as BC, but without the uncertainty of a referendum. More than half of all new Canadian jobs were created in Ontario during the past six months.
Frank McKenna, former premier of New Brunswick, writes in a July 5 article: “The HST not only delivered on its promise to create jobs, but also good-paying ones, as more productive companies tend to offer higher wages.” New Brunswick introduced the HST in 1997 along with Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. McKenna further noted that in the years following the introduction of the HST in Atlantic Canada, “…the standard of living in the three provinces outpaced that of the rest of Canada.”
This is a choice that will have tremendous affect on our province’s future. Please take the time to do your homework on what keeping or losing the HST means – and then vote. For me, the answer is clear: we can all be a part of an improved BC economy by voting “NO” to extinguishing the HST.
Brad Thorlakson, President & CEO
Tolko Industries Ltd., Vernon