Better ways than HST to spread the wealth

Re: NDP’s problems go deeper (B.C. Views, Jan. 25)

Tom Fletcher says the HST is the cure for inequality in British Columbia. But few will agree with such a claim, given that the HST is a $1.9 billion tax shift on to the backs of consumers. According to Statistics Canada, the average household will pay $521 more under the HST.

A recent editorial from the international magazine The Economist (The Rich and the Rest, Jan. 22, 2011) – hardly a bastion of left-wing thought – makes the compelling case that the best way to combat inequality and increase mobility is by investing government resources in raising the standard of living for the middle and lower classes, particularly through education. As the editorial states, “Oddly, the urgency of these kinds of reforms is greatest in rich countries, where prospects for the less-skilled are stagnant or falling.”

The B.C. Liberal record for helping low and middle income earners is abysmal. Middle income families found that between 2001 and 2009, B.C. had the lowest growth in average hourly wages and the second-lowest growth in weekly wages in Canada. Since 2001 the minimum wage has been stagnant at $8 per hour — the lowest in Canada – and job growth has been much slower. In fact, B.C. had the worst job loss record in the country last month, losing 22,000 jobs in December.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberals have made low and middle income earners pay more in hydro rates, Medical Services Plan premiums and countless other expenses. It’s no wonder that in the past 10 years fewer Canadians moved to British Columbia than in the decade before.

If the B.C. Liberals really want to “combat inequality and increase mobility” then they’ll stop wasting millions of dollars trying to convince British Columbians the HST is a good thing. Instead, they should raise the minimum wage, invest properly in education and stimulate job growth in a green economy.

Bruce Ralston

New Democrat Opposition Finance Critic

Surrey

Just Posted

Vehicle catches fire near China Creek Marina

No injuries in blaze, according to witnesses

North Island College issues brief statement on bomb threat

Threat forced college to close all campuses for one day

Premier wades into fishery closure debate

John Horgan questions the federal government’s approach

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Horse riders resurrect public riding ring near Port Alberni

Open house planned for July 22 so public can check out Beaver Creek facility

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

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

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read