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

Agassiz Farms Cycle Tour returns for 12th year

Offers sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Fraser Valley farming and agriculture

One in custody after dramatic Abbotsford vehicle theft ends with rollover in Chilliwack

Prolific offender Michael Joseph Hasell facing numerous charges

Letter: Citizens should hold incumbents accountable

As a resident of the village of Harrison Hot Springs, I am… Continue reading

A look at the latest from Agassiz Harrison

Bite-size news from your community

Stolen sunshade puts damper on Lower Mainland woman’s pet-relief effort

Broken umbrella taken from White Rock lawn ‘within 10 minutes’

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Teen killed by train remembered for his love

Friends and family share stories of young Crescent Beach train victim

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Most Read