|CRFA's Ron Reaman (left) and Joyce Reynolds present 1,000 HST petitions from British Columbia restaurant operators to MP Ted Menzies, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Finance.|
(Oct. 20/09) CRFA continues to press both the British Columbia and federal governments for industry fixes for GST/PST harmonization in the province. Because restaurant meals in B.C. are exempt from provincial sales tax, the HST (harmonized sales tax) would result in a new 7% sales tax on meals.
Foodservice industry concerns about the HST have dominated media coverage of the issue. The B.C. government responded to CRFA pressure by committing, in its Sept. 1 budget, to work with the industry on mitigation.
Since then, CRFA has met with MLAs, Ministers, and the Premier to discuss the issue. It also presented industry concerns to the B.C. Finance Committee at its first pre-budget consultation meeting on Sept. 28.
Through a joint letter, CRFA and the provincial restaurant association have asked the Minister of Finance for assurance that exemptions and an HST phase-in for the foodservice industry remain possible, despite limitations in the agreement with the federal government.
At the same time, CRFA has held the federal government accountable for solutions by pointing out that it provides provinces with $1.6 billion in federal tax dollars, dictates the timeframe for implementation, restricts provincial value-added exemptions to five per cent of the GST base, allows provinces to delay access to input tax credits for restaurant meals and beverages, and fails to address the food tax inequities in the GST.
CRFA has met with federal Finance officials, delivered more than 1,000 petitions to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance as well as individual MPs, made a presentation to the B.C. government caucus, and met with MPs of all stripes. On Oct. 22 we will meet with the senior B.C. Cabinet Minister, the Hon. Stockwell Day.
All CRFA members in B.C. will be contacted soon and are encouraged to get involved in the next phase of the fight!