Restaurant food PST-free, but food producers pay?

Perhaps the biggest irony of the referendum defeat of the HST in B.C. is that the "working poor" of this province will still not be able to afford to dine out once the former PST exemption is restored to restaurant tabs. Yet B.C.'s agricultural industry, which provides nutritious, locally-grown food to the public free of any taxes, will be forced once again to hand over $15- to $20 million a year in PST to the provincial treasury.

Perhaps the biggest irony of the referendum defeat of the HST in B.C. is that the “working poor” of this province will still not be able to afford to dine out once the former PST exemption is restored to restaurant tabs. Yet B.C.’s agricultural industry, which provides nutritious, locally-grown food to the public free of any taxes, will be forced once again to hand over $15- to $20 million a year in PST to the provincial treasury.

“A return to the PST/GST means that B.C.’s food producers will be at a disadvantage in both local and export markets,” says Garnet Etsell, the chair of the B.C. Agriculture Council (BCAC) and a Mount Lehman poultry farmer.

“Agriculture will face higher input costs that are no longer balanced out with investment tax credits made available under the HST. B.C. farmers will pay more to produce food that is tax-free for consumers – an unsustainable pattern that would add to the significant financial pressures many B.C. farmers and ranchers are currently facing,” says Etsell.

Etsell cited examples of this tax disadvantage, “primarily on the capital expenditure side. Under the HST if you built a new barn you would get that back, and under the PST you would pay seven percent on the materials and you would not get that back.”

In the case of smaller farm operations Etsell said smaller farm tractors were PST assessed while larger tractors were not.

“Any vehicles — trucks, tractors — farmers could claim the HST back but not the PST,” said Etsell.

The old PST administration “was also a very awkward process. The tax exempt list did not keep up with improvements in technology. It was not a timely process, we’d get one crack a year at adding things to the ‘shopping list,'” said Etsell.

“B.C. is the only province in the country where agriculture showed net revenue losses in the past number of years. Many of our farmers are already hurting.”

Following the announcement of the defeat of the HST last week, Premier Christy Clark’s office issued a statement pledging a return to the former PST exempt list that existed prior to the implementation of the HST.

Etsell says that the BCAC, “will be having a chat with the government about this.

“Simply reintroducing the old PST system is a poor option for B.C. agriculture. In an effort to improve industry competitiveness, the BCAC will also be looking to government to change other tax policies such as the Carbon Tax, which has had a crippling effect on several agriculture sectors,” said Etsell.

“Food should be tax-free.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: A one-person Terry Fox walk by Langley City resident

Lois Mcleay didn’t have to worry about social distancing

VIDEO: gunshots fired outside Langley gas station

Two people involved left scene uninjured, police said

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

VIDEO: Art in the time of COVID: how a Langley exhibition managed it

Holding the charitable event depended on which phase of restrictions were in effect

Three TWU grads named to first ‘Fellows’ program at Langley-based university

Program selects promising recent graduates to participate in a year-long paid internship

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Most Read