Falcon urges business to sell HST

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon says there are still many people making up their minds about the harmonized sales tax.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon says some people are still undecided about whether to stick with the HST.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon’s speaking tour took him to the Victoria Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, telling business leaders they can “unashamedly” advocate for a harmonized sales tax with a lower rate.

Business people reminded Falcon that not all of them support the HST, and asked why the rate reduction from 12 to 10 per cent can’t take place right away. Falcon replied that the loss of that much revenue has to be phased in over three years, as the federal government did when it lowered the goods and services tax.

Reducing it faster would risk downgrading the province’s triple-A credit rating, Falcon said, so the B.C. government chose to offer $200 million worth of transition payments to families with children and seniors with income less than $40,000 a year instead.

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Falcon said he believes about 20 per cent of people are still undecided about the HST. Referendum ballots have been distributed to parts of the province, but most remained hung up by a labour dispute at Canada Post.

He denied that his ministry is using its advertising campaign to persuade people to vote “no” in the referendum and keep the HST, saying the ads are all factual information.

“We support HST, we think it is the right public tax policy,” Falcon said. “But I think that information campaign is about saying to the public, get informed.”

Premier Christy Clark met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday, but she said afterwards she did not discuss the possible repayment of a $1.6 billion federal transition payment if voters reject the HST.

There will be no negotiations until the province knows the fate of the HST, which won’t be until August, Clark said.

Just Posted

Emergency notifications coming to the Alberni Valley

ACRD will expand the ‘Connect Rocket’ community alert system

Organizations helping Alberni’s marginalized feel the pinch

Operational demands, wage hike put hole in Bread of Life budget

Port Alberni votes to change way council pay is increased

New way will focus on Consumer Price Index, future councils

Port Alberni’s Salvation Army kettle campaign needs help

Dec. 15 is matching day at Walmart kettle

‘Ghost bikes’ installed to remember teen cyclists who died in Port Alberni

Cycle Alberni installs memorials to remember teens, remind all about road safety

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Three Days Grace roars into Penticton

Video caught in audience at SOEC concert going viral

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

GoFundMe helps Vancouver Island teen battle a rare cancer

Nanaimo’s Michelle Reilly, 16, battling spinal cord cancer, seeking possible treatment in U.S.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

Most Read