Benefits of HST 'not evident at all' one year later, says anti-poverty advocate

Ryan Ross
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Controversial harmonized sales tax took effect April 1, 2013


It has been one year since the Liberal government brought in the HST, but at least one anti-poverty advocate doesn’t see any benefit to the tax regime.

Mary Boyd with the P.E.I. Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy said if ever there was a province that had a case for not having the HST it was P.E.I. because of the state of its economy.

“It’s been a very big burden on low income people,” she said.

The HST went into effect on April 1, 2013 bringing with it a shift in how Islanders pay for things by combining the five per cent HST and nine per cent PST into a single 14 per cent tax on many items and services.

That’s a drop from the 15.5 per cent Islanders used to pay on some things when both taxes were applied on top of each other.

It also means Islanders are paying sales tax on some items they never used to, leading to criticism about increased costs because of the HST.

The latest figures from Statistics Canada show P.E.I.’s consumer price index increased by 2.7 per cent from February 2013 to the same month this year.

That’s due in part to a 7.6 per cent increase in energy costs, 5.2 per cent higher clothing costs and a 0.2 per cent increase in food prices.

To offset added costs, the provincial government gives eligible Islanders a rebate worth $150 to $200 a year, depending on their household income.

Boyd said the government promised those rebates would take care of low-income Islanders and they would provide benefits in many ways.

“The benefits are not evident at all,” she said.

With Boyd saying she expects the amount of food insecurity to increase and people to spend less, she doesn’t see the HST benefiting small businesses either.

“Who is it benefitting? I don’t know,” she said.

Now that the tax has been in place for one year, Boyd said she thinks warnings about its negative impact have come true.

“One could say the first year of the HST has been a total failure and it’s been a total punishment for a lot of people.”

Attempts to contact Finance Minister Wes Sheridan were unsuccessful, but in February he spoke to The Guardian about the consumer price index increase and said he expects to eventually see prices drop as businesses adjust to the HST.

“You will see that disappear in the next year,” he said.

Organizations: P.E.I. Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy, Statistics Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Non tourist
    April 02, 2014 - 08:01

    @ ron...Seems to me you have a fulltime cushioning job with all the perks maybe you are Sheridans right hand man,maybe we would not run a deficit if they start cutting jobs inside and eliminate the extra waste, maybe cutting insiders our health care just might come out of the red and with our generations carry more debt with this gov we will be lucky to have a island left to pass down to anyone so you sit back and enjoy your perks its soon going to end,cut inside first its time to eliminate waste.

  • John W. A. Curtis
    April 01, 2014 - 22:06

    The province cuts the public civil service then province can increase the tax rebate for low income earners but Summerside and Charlottetown want to maintain a false economy.

  • don
    April 01, 2014 - 21:38

    do not be surprised when wes says the HST will be added to heating oil. he needs the money bad the family ties of the liberals needs money next year and wes will get it.

  • Chinese Immigrant
    April 01, 2014 - 20:28

    Can we go back old GST+PST system? The current HST increases a lot of life expense. Look at the gas price, it is highest price amonge all Atalantic provinces. Clearly we as taxpayers have paid more tax than before since the HST began in April, 2013. Why the government does not listen to their people? Remember we should poll opposition leader next time.

  • Billy
    April 01, 2014 - 15:59

    Why are you folks not doing anything about it, other than complain here. Look what complaining in the right place did in other provinces like Alberta, Nfld and BC. If you don't like what they are doing get a voice, don't vote them back in.

  • Nothing New
    April 01, 2014 - 14:20

    Not just low income ..the middle class who pay most of the taxes were hit from day 1...It's not felt by MLA's or cabinet ministers with expence accounts and 2 tier pension systems...yet political followers vote for the colour of the stripe like their ancestors did..hoping(I mean expecting) a job ,a plum appointment or an advantage in the system be it PNP to a free dinner .........The Government could care less for your or mine opinions......we just pay and watch the dollars go out the window.

  • Truth Seeker
    Truth Seeker
    April 01, 2014 - 14:10

    Wow, shocker. How long are we gonna put up with these thieves?

    • don
      April 01, 2014 - 15:39

      you will do as you are told by ghiz or suffer. he will stay in as long as they want. plus they are getting help from the back room boys of the PC party to keep ghiz in. tell me how many islanders has the backbone to vote them out? and besides do you relly think ghiz and wes cares about the poor tax payers? they only care about the rich islanders as they help them get more money do some research into who gets all the tax payers money as in companies and how they are connected to the liberals.

  • Non tourist
    April 01, 2014 - 13:25

    The only thing that I would to see disappear is Wes Sheridan and his regime the HST has not done anybody any good,with all the bu!!$h+t from Sheridan about the HST and a balanced deficit and here we are the smallest. Province in Canada and we are 2billion in debt,lets someone in there that can manage our taxdollars ,this is just ridiculous just. ridiculous.

  • dave anger
    April 01, 2014 - 13:17

    The HST has made fools of all Islanders

  • ron
    April 01, 2014 - 12:11

    Umm...the HST was never supposed to make life easier for anyone, not sure why people are shocked when it didn't. We are a have not province who almost always runs a deficit. Plain and simple...the government sought a way to increase its revenue to afford and this was it. The alternatives are to cut back on services (like healthcare) or offload more of our debt to future generations. So get off this "who is benefiting?" thing!

    • Patrick
      April 01, 2014 - 15:06

      A government is the only business type that spend more than it brings in. How about living with in our means. Robbing Paul to pay Peter isnt a solution.

    • Shane
      April 01, 2014 - 16:27

      @ron perhaps the government should start by cutting costs internally, then stop spending money like a drunken sailor on losers like sand dunes, plan b and Geo sweep. Maybe then we start to benefit. Now your buddy Wes says we'll see benefits next year which is a total crock of bs. The fact is there will never be a reduction in prices for consumers because of a lack of competition in lil ol P.E.I. This bunch feeds islanders more lies than the boy who cried wolf and why not, Islanders are naive enough to vote them back in.

  • Jackofalltrades
    April 01, 2014 - 11:26

    HST has hit everyone not just the low income earners. The government and so-called expert economists were saying this would be good and price of goods would drop, they are either incompetent in having us believe this or were trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Did they not realize that prices would increase due to the businesses having to pay more to heat their buildings, and offset their increase in shipping their products in due to the increase in fuel.

    • sentance
      April 01, 2014 - 16:15

      If businesses have higher costs due to the HST on electricity and gas they can get that money back through their input tax credits.

    April 01, 2014 - 11:26

    The only one that benefitted was the Finance Dept, that got 75 million from the Feds for putting this into effect. That 75 million appears to have disappeared and Islanders are out of pocket as per usual. The Government likes doing surveys so how about paying for an HONEST survey which will tell how much more Islanders are actually paying per year in taxes? Perhaps the word HONEST confused you.

  • Hard worker
    April 01, 2014 - 10:41

    Don't forget the EI change a year ago today

  • Patrick
    April 01, 2014 - 10:02

    Its done nothing to control spending by a Government who is out of control with spending. Spend and tax Liberals.

    • more taxpayer
      April 01, 2014 - 20:38

      I do not want to vote the government any more!

    • Life Long Voter
      April 01, 2014 - 22:31

      Be careful!! You don't want to wake up the red and blue ostriches. So begins the time where people should feel ashamed to belong to a party!!