HST meeting hears cost concerns
The Opposition Progressive Conservatives held the first of three consultations on harmonized sales tax Wednesday night in Montague, and heard worries the new tax would be costly for Islanders.
About 80 people attended the meeting, and most appeared to be firmly against the government's plan.
Sylvia Taylor, a low-income senior, was worried the government's plan to enhance sales tax rebates would not be enough to make up for the extra tax she will be paying.
"They're going to be generous and give us a hundred or [$]100 or [$]150," said Taylor.
The provincial portion of sales tax will drop from 10.5 per cent to nine per cent under the plan, but many items that are not taxed now, such as electricity and adult clothing, will be taxed under HST.
"It's helping the low-income people with children, which is fine, but us old folks won't buy many children's clothes," said Taylor.
"I don't see any advantage to the seniors at all. It seems like they're taking all they can from us and giving nothing in return."
PC Leader Olive Crane said the government is not giving people enough information.
"As you know, they expect to bring in $25 million in new tax revenue because of HST, so tonight is the first where the public really get an opportunity to share their opinion on HST," said Crane.
Some Island business, farm and industry groups have given thumbs up to the HST, saying it will help the island economy.
David Myles stood up at the meeting and said he does not necessarily support the new tax, but government has to do something about the deficit.
"We are still in debt. We are going in debt every year," said Myles.
"I don't think you can be partisan and say well it's Liberals doing it, because in fairness the Conservatives had their share, their kick at the cat for 10 years, and they put us further in debt as well."
The PCs will host two more public consultations over the next few weeks, in Charlottetown and Summerside.
Government is planning its own information meetings for business and community groups in coming months. It intends to introduce HST in April of next year.