HST is one in a long line of taxes

By MPP Toby Barrett

June 1st marked the start to Seniors Month in Ontario and ironically it also marked the one-month countdown to the implementation of Mr. McGuinty’s HST tax grab that will punish everyone, including vulnerable seniors already struggling to make ends meet.

The HST is a tax on seniors and every other Ontarian. It’s an attack on our financial security and peace of mind as we all will be forced to pay eight per cent more for everything from electricity, home heating fuel, natural gas and gasoline, to haircuts, snow removal and funerals.

It troubles me when I hear of middle-aged folks and seniors rushing out to pre-pay their funerals in order to beat the HST. People have many other things to worry about and how they are going to pay for their funeral shouldn’t be one of them.

Sadly, the HST won’t get you and me additional services. Remember the so-called ‘health tax’ and how it was the answer to reducing wait times? Since becoming Premier, wait lists for long-term care beds have doubled – 25 thousand Ontarians are waiting for long term care beds, including nearly 100 people in Haldimand and Norfolk. And currently, seniors are already being disproportionately hurt by plans to close rural Emergency Rooms as well as plans to cut frontline pharmacy care.

But the grim news doesn’t end. As the House got set to rise for the summer last week, the McGuinty government was already signaling that there are yet more taxes to come. Speculation ranges from carbon taxes to water taxes to toll roads – hang on to your pocket book.

From the outset, the Ontario PC Opposition has opposed the $3 billion tax grab. We have used every tool at our disposal to fight it, including introducing 500,000 amendments that would have protected Ontario’s taxpayers, but to no avail.

When Mr. McGuinty signed the HST deal, it locked Ontario into this tax grab for five years, with no ability to reduce the rate for two years. In order to rescind the HST, the Province of Ontario would be required to pay a $4.3 Billion penalty for breaking its agreement with the federal government. Further, Mr. McGuinty signed a potential $25 million severance for tax collectors who are being re-hired by the federal government.

As we brace ourselves for this new tax, my colleagues and I have launched a grassroots policy process to best determine, with you, the best course of action on tax relief. We have also established 10 practical, affordable and achievable ideas to put the brakes on McGuinty’s failed policies, and to begin creating jobs immediately. You can have a look at our ideas at www.10for2010.ca.

If we add it all up – billion dollar boondoggles, bloated bureaucracies, entitlement and expense scandals, – it becomes clear that Mr. McGuinty is in need of $3 billion in HST revenue in order to pay for these mistakes. It is unconscionable that you and I are being asked to step up and pay when we’ve already forked out more than enough.

Over the past few days Premier McGuinty has complained about the cost of Toronto hosting the G20 Summit, saying, “I have the same reaction as Canadians do – a billion dollars is a lot of money.”

My response: people in glass houses should not cast stones