Ottawa, Parliament of Canada – December 7, 2009
Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP): Madam Speaker, tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, the House of Commons will be debating Bill C-62, the harmonized sales tax bill. If passed, the federal government will give permission to the British Columbia and Ontario governments to proceed with the HST starting in July 2010. It would also give permission for the $6 billion transfer to these two provinces.
Normally, a closure motion comes after many days, weeks or months of debate on an issue or a bill. What is odd and absurd about the situation in front of us is that there has been no debate on the HST bill. The debate will not start until tomorrow.
Here we are, debating a motion to limit the second and third reading and committee study. It is normally something that would take three, four or five months to pass through Parliament and the Senate. We are debating a motion that would stop the debate in two days, which means that all of that kind of work will be done in two days.
It is unbelievable. There will be no time for much study, no time to exchange points of view and no time for hearings from Canadians and small businesses. The Conservatives and Liberals will try to rush through this HST bill by this Thursday night so they can start their winter holidays.
We have a motion for hearings. We have an amendment. I am curious about how many Liberals from the Greater Toronto Area will vote against hearing from the public, because I know that many of the people, not just in Trinity—Spadina and Toronto but in the greater Toronto region, are very much against this tax.
I find this mad rush to ram through this bill very anti-democratic. It is unacceptable and outrageous. We are supposed to be a House of Commons. When the commons, i.e., ordinary Canadians are not allowed to be heard, how can we call ourselves a democratic country?
HST can stand for hated sales tax, horrific sales tax, hobbling sales tax or horrible sales tax. Since we are not going to hear much from my constituents from Trinity—Spadina, I thought I would read some of the comments they have sent to me by mail, email and telephone. Matthew said:
No more taxes please, life is hard enough already.
I am particularly angry that his additional 8% tax will be applied to my natural gas bill for heating and hot water. Heating a home is a must in Canada – not discretionary. Landlords will pass on this additional expense to their tenants rents. Furthermore, if this tax is implemented, it will be there forever, long after any rebates or any income tax reductions are finished. I also don’t expect small businesses to pass on their savings in the form of lower prices to consumers. They will simply keep the savings esp if their business is struggling.
Liz wrote in and said:
I am retired on an investment income which has been severely reduced by the drops in the market. I don’t know how I will be able to afford the 8% on utilities.
With 10% unemployment in ON, how can people manage to pay an 8% tax increase. People are suffering and no one seems to care.
I barely get by now as a daycare worker and no work pension to depend on. How am I going to survive?
Darren, a student, said:
I’m a Toronto citizen returning to university so that I can attain a new job. With tuition and now the proposed HST I am going to have more difficulty than ever before to support myself.
HST will not only hurt the travellers that will visit Ontario and expecting a rebate, for me, this is a plain discouragement for all the visitors who plans to come here. Definitely it will only hurt our tourism within our own province and it is indeed not a good thing to do….
Another constituent said:
This… tax grab is not only going to hurt travellers…it ‘s also going to hurt tourism [big time].
I am opposed to…(HST) being used as a solution to the current government’s deficit. As a self-employed business owner, the HST will cost me more than I will save. The government’s implementation of the HST during this time of economic recession recovery is completely irresponsible. Many sectors of our economy have just begun to feel the effects of the recession – this is the case for my business. Not only will the HST have a negative effect to small business owners, the cost to implement the HST does not make financial sense.
Unless I’m missing something, I do not understand the need for the HST. If eliminating the PST on intermediate inputs is going to have such wonderful impact on business and employment why does the PST have to be extended to goods and services that are currently exempt?
Another one said:
Something which most people aren’t realizing is the HST is going to really hurt self-employed people like me. As a musician with a GST number, come April 2011 I will have to remit 13% of my income to the government instead of 5%.
This is really going to hurt self-employed people all over the map. What can be done to stop this bill!? Are all the Liberal MPs going to vote for it, or can some cross the party line to vote against it?
A senior said:
I will incur a higher tax on hydro, and many more things that are necessary for me and my son, like HOUSING, car insurance etc…in this country when it’s very cold in the winter, i can’t afford to live without hot water and electricity.
Please stop this HST tax. How much more can we be taxed!!!
And another senior, a CARP member, Larry, said:
As a Senior I am totally against the proposed HST. I cannot see how this will benefit anyone let alone Seniors. I would like you and all MP’s to vote this proposal down [please]. Thank you!
Agnes said–and this is interesting:
For families struggling with the recession a new 8 per cent tax on everything from home heating to Christmas trees is kicking them when they’re down.
It is not just Christmas trees. It is not just home heating fees. It is new bikes, vitamins. It is when we take our pet to the vet. It is when we surf the net. It is when we try to manage our mutual funds or have someone buy our mutual funds. When we buy a house, our real estate fees are going to go up. Our sports fees, gym memberships, even funerals are going to cost 8% more. Also, it is going to affect our seniors.
The Ontario Long Term Care Association said some 360 homes, affecting 40,000 seniors, are going to take a big hit. As a result, it is going to have to lay off a large number of staff; 360 in Ontario. That means seniors will have less care. They will have to wait longer for a bath or to eat a meal.
This is the kind of negative impact that we will see because of the harmonized sales tax.
Lastly, the reason for such a rush to adopt this bill is obvious. People hate this tax.
The Liberals and the Conservatives are worried that if people go to the website, www.blockthehst.ca, they will use the calculators on the site and find out how much more they will have to pay, what kind of impact this tax grab will have, and they will fight hard against the HST.
OTTAWA Question Period, Parliament of Canada – November 23, 2009
Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Laura Barr is getting married next summer but the HST is putting a damper on a very special and happy occasion. Every single item and service Laura and Jim purchase for their wedding will cost 8% more. They are being forced to add an HST line to their budget but are getting absolutely nothing in return.
Allan Bowditch calls it a “stealth tax” that is setting back Canadian economy growth and creating incredible hardship among those who can least afford it, like pensioners and retired seniors.
People who live in condominiums will be especially hard hit with their condo fees going up. Every service from plumbing and electrical repairs to legal fees will be subject to the tax grab.
As a business owner the HST will also cost Joseph Paget more. He sees it as an irresponsible and poor decision that will negatively impact the Canadian economy.
The people of Trinity-Spadina demand that the government stop this HST tax grab now.
Chow questions Minister of Finance October 7, 2009 in Parliament during Question Period:
Mr. Speaker, we know it is this minister who is spending $6 billion of our tax money and signed an agreement for the HST tax hike.
We know that he refuses to properly fund seniors’ pensions. What we do not know is why he is adding a new tax that would take a big bite out of the retirement savings of people from across the country.
Mutual Fund fees will be subjected to an 8% tax grab. Why are the Conservatives making life harder, more difficult and less affordable for Canadians?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, implementation issues are for the decision-making provinces, for Ontario or British Columbia, how they choose to implement harmonized sales taxes…