The HST Information Office, which was created to provide information on the shift to a Harmonized Sales Tax in B.C., confirmed on Monday that there is a high level of unhappiness - as well as a fair amount of confusion - over the new tax system.
Among other things the office found:
• 67 per cent of British Columbians support the decision to hold a referendum on the HST.
• 45 per cent believe a return to the PST/GST would have a negative impact on provincial finances, versus 22 per cent that believe it would have a positive impact.
• 63 per cent are not satisfied with the information they've been provided about the GST, while 72 per cent said they had not personally received any information.
• 47 per cent do not believe they have enough information to make an informed choice about the HST.
• 55 per cent believe the HST will hurt the economy, versus 31 per cent who believe it will improve the economy.
• 86 per cent believe that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, the HST issue will have a major impact on B.C.'s future.
• 57 per cent of respondents said they would like more information before deciding how to vote in the referendum.
In terms of perception, the HST Information Office determined that people believe there are more reasons to oppose the HST than to support it. They also found that some respondents believe the HST increased the cost of goods and services that were previously taxed by both PST and GST for the same amount. As well, there was a perception that the economy would be worse off under the HST - even in sectors that are benefitting from the harmonized tax.
The HST debate has been raging in the province since it was introduced on July 1, 2010, leading opponents to raise enough signatures to hold a referendum on the tax. As well, HST opponents have started a recall campaign against several Liberal MLAs, starting with Ida Chong.
The HST debate was also a major factor in Premier Gordon Campbell's decision to resign.