HST gains support in new poll

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has turned his neutral information campaign into a sales pitch for the new

VICTORIA – The harmonized sales tax and the referendum on its fate are still widely misunderstood, but support for returning to the old provincial sales tax is declining.

That’s the main finding of a poll released Thursday by Angus Reid Public Opinion. An online survey of 805 B.C. residents found 44 per cent intend to vote “no” in the mail-in referendum that gets underway this month.

A year ago, just before the HST took effect, the pollster found 82 per cent wanted to scrap it. The latest survey shows a substantial increase in support for the HST since the B.C. government offered to cut the rate by two points to 10 per cent over the next three years.

The poll also reflects confusion about the referendum question, which will ask voters if they want to “extinguish” the HST and return to the federal GST and the former PST at a combined rate of 12 per cent. One out of three respondents incorrectly believed that a “no” vote would get rid of the HST.

Opposition to the HST was stronger among women, younger people and rural residents. Women were 64 per cent opposed and people aged 18 to 34 were 62 per cent opposed. Residents of Metro Vancouver were evenly divided, while opponents were a clear majority in the Interior, the North and Vancouver Island.

One in four respondents said they have put off purchases such as a new car or television, goods that are taxed the same under GST-PST and HST.

The political battle over the HST continues as voters begin receiving their ballot packages in the mail. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon now estimates that killing the HST will cost B.C. $3 billion, including $1.2 billion in lost revenue and the cost to borrow and repay Ottawa’s $1.6 billion transition fund.

NDP leader Adrian Dix has begun a tour to urge people to restore the PST and GST at 12 per cent, arguing that the B.C. Liberal government can’t be trusted to lower the HST rate.

The poll asked people about the credibility of various sources. A majority said they trust small business owners and academics, while 40 per cent trust Premier Christy Clark and 35 per cent are inclined to believe Dix.

The highest ranked personality was former premier and Fight HST leader Bill Vander Zalm at 47 per cent.

Just Posted

Whispers finds new home for thrift store

The new location is on Third Street.

Critical Condition: ‘People are dying from treatable medical conditions’

Problems with ambulance service policies are systemic and province-wide, advocacy group leader says.

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

BC BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

President praises nearly 1,800 volunteers at B.C. Games

Ashley Wadhwani sits down with the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read