In just a couple of weeks the widely and rightly hated HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) will come into effect in both Ontario and British Columbia.
The HST combines the federal GST and the respective provincial sales taxes into a single “harmonized” that will apply to many more items and services and significasntly increase the cost of living in those two provinces for the poor and the working class.
The HST is a harmful and hateful tax because it is a regressive tax that has much greater negative impact on the masses – the poor and the middle class – than on the socioeconomic elite.
Widespread protests have occurred in British Columbia – to the point where one cabinet minister has resigned – and the popularity of the governing Liberals has fallen below 20 percent in some polls and is approaching the level at which federal Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney was chased from power in utter humiliation in 1993, shortly after he passed the equally and rightly hated GST (Goods & Services Tax).
It is now all but certain that the Liberals (an amalgam of provincial Liberals and Conservatives in B.C.) will be routed by the NDP in the next provincial election.
But in Ontario, the story is very different.
Other than the First Nations groups whose treaty rights and economic survival are being seriously threatened, there has been little public outcry.
Ironically, Ontario is where the HST should be most hated and most vigourously protested.
There’s an old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” All Ontarians should now be ashamed – of themselves and of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
After the last Ontario election, McGuinty instituted a “health-care premium” which was supposed to help fund the ailing health-care system. But it was not used for that purpose. Instead it was used to finance yet another corporate tax cut. (Don’t these tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy ever end?)
In real terms, the federal and provincial funding for health care has continued to decline even as the population continues to grow and rapidly ages.
The level of neglect of the health-care system is such that Ontario’s hospitals are now almost crippled by budget and staff cuts.
This time McGuinty is claiming that the HST revenue is urgently needed to help fund social programs.
But that’s another lie!
Instead it is financing yet another corporate tax cut. (Don’t they ever end? At the rate things are going governments will soon be paying tribute to the corporations and the wealthy instead of the corporations and the wealthy paying any taxes at all.)
Put simply, the HST will cost every poor and working class family in Ontario hundreds of dollars a year, at the least. That’s because the poor and the working class spend most of their money on essentials.
For the socioeconomic elite – the top five percent who own almost everything – the effect will be negligible because they need so little of their income for survival.
If Ontario’s masses have been apathetic, it is largely because they have been poorly performed on the subject. Where has the mass media been? It certainly hasn’t been crusading against this harmful and unnecessary tax? Where, in particular, has the Toronto Star been? For over a century, the Toronto Star has promoted itself as being mildly social democratic and strongly committed to social justice – at least between elections. But as on many real social justice issues, the sorry Toronto Star has been AWOL.