Two influential business groups have expressed their disappointment with the results of the HST referendum, shortly after learning that voters had rejected the tax by a 10 per cent margin.
The Business Council of B.C., which strongly endorsed the HST, issued a statement saying they accept the public’s decision.
“The public have spoken and rejected the HST, a tax change we strongly endorsed. The business community respects that decision and understands that the government will do the same,” stated Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of BC.
“We are unquestionably disappointed but don’t have the luxury in today’s uncertain times to revisit the past. We need to move on to deal with the real challenges facing BC’s economy and its people if we are to achieve our full potential.”
The Smart Tax Alliance also regretted the loss of the HST referendum, noting that business confidence and certainty will be shaken.
“It’s a disappointing outcome,” says Peter Leitch, STA Co-chair and Chair of the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of British Columbia.
“We respect the referendum decision and the need to restore the old PST/GST system, but a dialogue needs to take place that puts jobs first under a competitive tax system.”
Both groups called for the B.C. Government to explore fiscal and policy approaches that can restore some of the economic competitiveness and efficiency lost with the return of the PST/GST.
However, Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour, had a different take on Friday's result.
“A victory for common sense and working families," says Sinclair of the outcome.
Sinclair said that the B.C. Federation of Labour fought against Christy Clark’s HST because it was an unfair tax shift of $2 billion annually from large corporations to BC families.
“Clark and the BC Liberals have repeatedly cut taxes for businesses and wealthy individuals over the last decade, while imposing regressive taxes and service cuts on working people. The HST was the last straw, and British Columbians rose up and said ‘enough is enough’,” says Sinclair.