Category Archives: Finances

Facts? Balance? Thoughtfulness?

Sadly, as the September 30, 2011 Global News Hour Final stories on the Abbotsford Heat and Abbotsford’s need for upgrading the city’s water system made clear, traditional broadcast media coverage all too often has little or nothing to do with facts, balance or thoughtfulness.

While the segment on the Heat did reference the $1.4 million subsidy paid directly to the Heat ownership for last year’s (2010/2011) season under the ten year revenue guarantee made by Abbotsford’s mayor and city council, it ignored or missed several important points.

Points such as: the indirect subsidies taxpayers pay for items such as the Heat banners adorning city lampposts or the advertising materials that adorn city facilities and buildings or the use of city staff to conduct business on behalf of the Heat.

Nor was there any mention of the yearly multi-million dollar operating subsidy to the Heat in the form of subsidizing the operations of the Sports Complex, the Heat’s home.

But the truly criminal aspect of Global’s story was the failure to address Abbotsford’s mayor and council signing an agreement to subsidize the Heat’s ownership that is illegal under the Community Charter that governs municipalities in BC.

No reference was made to Chilliwack’s mayor and council not entering into the same type of agreement to keep the Bruins (who moved to Victoria) in Chilliwack because as Chilliwack’s Mayor Sharon Gaetz stated “Under the province’s Community Charter, the city is not permitted to fund private business with taxpayers’ funds. This is deemed to be an assist to business and is strictly forbidden.”

Nor did Global say anything about Abbotsford’s mayor and council’s acknowledgement that the subsidy agreement with the Heat violates the Community Charter or their claims of having circumvented the law rather than obey it.

Global failed to question a mayor and council who, when a law forbids them from doing something they want to do, ignore/circumvent the law. Or ask just what else was circumvented or ignored behind the closed doors mayor and council prefer to operate from.

Later in the same broadcast Global’s story on Abbotsford’s need for a new water source left one wondering if some in Abbotsford were questioning the need to spend money on the City’s water infrastructure, while failing to address the true issue(s) of concern citizens have with Abbotsford’s mayor and council’s proposed upgrades to the water supply.

Contrary to the impression fostered by Global, nobody is disputing that Abbotsford needs to upgrade its water supply infrastructure. Indeed, many of those Mayor Peary labels as ‘naysayers’ – meaning they disagree with him – were calling on council to upgrade the water supply infrastructure before it built the ‘great white elephant’ AKA the Sports and Entertainment Complex.

There are major differences between the mayor and council’s intentions and the wishes/wants/best interests of the citizens of Abbotsford.

Council insists on using a P3 to upgrade the infrastructure, with Mayor Peary and council liking to talk about the $61 million grant they will get for going with a P3. Mayor Peary and council don’t like to talk about what prior ‘savings’ by mayor and council have cost the taxpayers (considerably more than the ‘savings’) or the fact that the increased costs associated with a P3 will be more (millions, tens of millions of dollars more) than the $61 million ‘savings’. Leaving Abbotsford taxpayers (once again) paying out of pocket for council chasing a mirage they call ‘savings’.

One significant cost the mayor and council like to overlook is that operating costs under a P3 would be at least a million dollars a year more expensive. Ironically this additional cost was included in the report commissioned by mayor and council to sell the project to the citizens of Abbotsford.

The mayor and council’s insistence on using a P3 ignores, as did the Global broadcast, the reality that around the world municipal governments are choosing not to use P3s on vital city resources such as water for a variety of good reasons, including keeping the control of vital resources such as water with the municipal governments.

Then there is the history and experience citizens have with the mayor and council’s promises as to what the total final cost of a project will be. The last time council told taxpayers the price was guaranteed by the contract with the builder (the last project council sold to the citizens) the cost of the project doubled. Costs that run over the cost promised by council by millions or tens of millions of dollars are simply normal operating procedure for mayor and council.

Keep in mind this is a mayor and council that built new Highway 1 interchanges where the roundabouts have signs telling drivers not to get in beside a truck because the design has trucks needing the entire roundabout to manoeuvre or where trucks tip over if they try to transit the roundabouts at or near the posted speed limits. A mayor and council that, with a short window for construction, a window that was open during the late fall/winter/early spring, thought hiring a firm that had never built a pool tank was a good idea.

Water is far too important a resource to go with a design build as the mayor and council want to. Yes, designing the system first in order to ensure it meets not just current but future needs, is robust enough for the years of service it will need to deliver and delivers the highest quality water requires far more of council than simply saying build me one of these – but council could always go back to meeting weekly to earn the salaries and perks they have voted themselves in recent years. More importantly, if the mayor and council are not willing to put in the time and effort required to ensure the needs and best interests of taxpayers are met – exactly why are they in office?

By its nature design build is a poor choice as the way to build a project, since the builder maximizes his profits by delivering the least he can, at the lowest cost he can, and meet the specifications of the contract. Design build is how you get roundabouts with signs warning cars not to enter beside trucks.

Abbotsford’s water infrastructure is too important to be built to the lowest standards and costs permitted by the contract.

Those are the major points of disagreement on upgrading the water infrastructure in Abbotsford. The disagreement is not whether we should upgrade, but about taxpayers wanting to ensure the upgrading is done correctly, managed well and has appropriate financial controls and frugality. As opposed to council’s take the easiest way out by going with a P3 and paying whatever the cost comes to.

All levels of government in Canada (municipal, provincial and federal) have a need to deal with a number of serious, complex issues at the same time they are constrained by the need to get their financial houses in order.

Unfortunately politics today are about politicians holding onto their power, perks and overly generous salaries by getting re-elected and has nothing to do with providing good governance and taking care of the people’s business.

Just as unfortunate is that traditional media is not about facts, balance or thoughtfulness. It is about the bottom line and best interests of whichever conglomerate the media in question is part of.

More unfortunate is that with the traditional media having become conglomerate owned and controlled, there is no media outlet for disseminating and discussing differing ideas, points of view and thoughts on what our priorities should be, the issues we need to address and how we should approach those priorities and issues. At least until such time as newer, open internet media such as The Tyee or Abbotsford Today are more well established and the public has an awareness of the new, emerging, information driven media world online.

I say more unfortunate because without information, knowledge and at least basic understanding you cannot make good choices and the functionality of democracy will continue to deteriorate.

With politicians focused on re-election and their own best interests and the public residing in wilful denial, media’s failure or refusal (or inability to recognize or understand?) to raise important issues, challenges and differing points of view in the public forum makes media partners with politicians and citizens clinging to wilful denial in our current sad state of affairs and the inauspiciousness of our future.

Media’s ‘news’ should, at the very least, resemble a broadcast containing facts, balance and thought, rather than having every appearance of being a promotional video for, in this case, Abbotsford’s mayor and council members seeking re-election in November.

Facts???? We’re the Government.

The response (below) to my call for the provincial government to stop bedevilling British Columbians struggling to survive serious health challenges (and the poverty that so often goes with it) has me pondering whether the government pays attention to what you say or, spotting a few key words – Air Miles®, PharmaCare – reply using a rote response or form letter.

Nowhere in the reply were the facts or points I raised addressed.

Of course the reply didn’t contain any facts or evidence to support the government’s  assertion ‘the government was subsidizing the incentive programs’. Further, the government’s reasoning (more accurately what passes for reasoning in government and the bureaucracy) is based on multiple coulds.

Could. And based on the speculation of could, the government took a benefit from the seriously ill who practiced good fiscal management.

Although……basing policies on what government insists on believing, on the speculation of could, rather than facts, does explain the sad state of BC’s finances, healthcare, education, housing, deficit, debt, etc.

Those collecting points were maximizing the bang for the taxpayer buck. By collecting points they got the medications taxpayers paid for and through the collection of points they got $20 worth of food or gas to supplement their (inadequate) support (and if the politicians and bureaucrats feel it is adequate, I propose we set the salaries of MLA’s and bureaucrats at this ‘adequate’ level).

So, not only is the government’s incentive program policy not saving the taxpayers any money, it is wasting the cash value of the rewards that are no longer collected.

I also found myself wondering if, after the Bureaucratese of the reply had been slapped together, anyone had bother reading what had been written.

Take the lecture on the free market. While it might be suitable as an introduction to economics in middle school its simplistic view fails to capture the complexity of the free market as it functions in the real world.

Such as the difference in the economics of standalone pharmacies versus pharmacies contained within (or part of) a retail operation such as grocery stores or London Drugs; or the consequences of a pharmacy being part of a larger entity (Safeway) which has an incentive program that applies to the goods of the entire store.

So, we have government policy based on the speculation of could and economics and finances suitable to middle school but not for application in the real world.

Then we have this beauty:

” pharmacies set their drug prices and dispensing fees based on what they believe the market will bear – or more specifically on what they believe their customers will pay.”

While PharmaCare does not have the ability to “shop around” it does set maximum amounts for which government will pay.”

PharmaCare sets out what (the maximum) it will pay. Therefore the pharmacies have no need to base their prices on  “what they believe their customers will pay.” If the pharmacies know what PharmaCare will pay, then by the governments own assertion that is what the pharmacies will charge for medication for those on PharmaCare.

According to the government reply, the amount PharmaCare would have been paying when British Columbians in need were allowed to collect Air Miles® (or other incentive programs) was the maximum amount PharmaCare had set for each specific medication being taken.

According to the government reply, the amount PharmaCare is paying now that government  policy prevents the collection of Air Miles® etc is the maximum amount PharmaCare sets for each specific medication being taken.

So, according to the governments own rational it does not matter whether Air Miles® (or other incentive program points) are collected or not, knowing what the maximum amount PharmaCare will pay for any specific medication, means that (the maximum) is what pharmacies will charge.

By the governments own rational, changing the policy on incentive program points collection has not saved the taxpayers any money. Conversely the collection of incentive program points did not cost the taxpayers any money.

The effect of the change in policy is to fail to obtain the maximum bang for the taxpayer buck by not collecting the rewards that are available as a result of taxpayer dollars spent on medication.

And then::

“Rather than offering loyalty rewards, if a pharmacy sets its drug price or dispensing fee at a lower amount to attract customers, then customers, PharmaCare and all taxpayers will save money.”

Setting aside for the moment the fact that, according to the government’s own rational, the price charged to PharmaCare (loyalty rewards or no loyalty rewards) will be the maximum that PharmaCare has set out as the amount it will pay for a specific drug, consider the following points.

In the free market cutting prices to attract business leads to price wars. Incentive programs tend to be offered by large retail chains/organizations (such as Safeway Wal-Mart) who have the financial  wherewithal to win such a war.

When was the last time (if ever) you heard or read advertizing for pharmacies that was based on the prices for prescription drugs?

Even if a pharmacy does charge a lower unadvertised price how are people going to find it? Do you check around to find the lowest price ever time you get a prescription?

If you are on PharmaCare it makes sense to make an effort to fill your prescription somewhere you earn rewards that are useful to you or your survival. If you cannot collect rewards, are you not going to choose a pharmacy  based on convenience or cost savings realized by using that pharmacy?

Also affecting the decision as to which pharmacy to use – I always get my medication at the same place. They have my records and we have a year’s long relationship. As a safety measure I have no interest in going to a strange, unknown pharmacy. (I have had my pharmacy catch and correct what could have been a fatal error in medication prescribed).

Then there is the question of how people are suppose to check prices. Pharmacies do not quote prices over the phone – you have to go to the pharmacy. How reasonable is it to expect people living on extremely limited budgets to spend their gas budget driving from pharmacy to pharmacy to compare prices – particularly after you have taken away the $20 reward they used for gas at the end of the month? How reasonable is it to want people to compare prices  when market forces dictate that all pharmacies will be charging the same amount – the amount set out by PharmaCare.

I do not have the information to properly analyze how PharmaCare sets the maximum price it will pay for each medication it covers. However I would assume that PharmaCare behaves at least semi-rationally (I know – a dangerous assumption when referring to government). Meaning that PharmaCare would set its maximum rate based on the wholesale cost (the cost to pharmacies) of the specific medications.

Unless PharmaCare is allowing for a ridiculously large mark-ups (if it allows any mark-up at all), then pharmacies make little or no money on the mark-up over cost on filling PharmaCare prescriptions. Thus if PharmaCare is behaving in a fiscally responsible manner in setting the maximum it will pay for a specific medication, a pharmacy will need to charge the maximum PharmaCare will pay.

Once again,  incentive or no incentive program, the amount charged by a pharmacy is going to be the maximum amount PharmaCare has set out as what it will pay.

If the government has evidence to support its claim that the collection of points in incentive programs is costing taxpayers dollars they need to present that evidence.

Evidence based on facts, not the speculation of ‘could’ or fairy tales. Because, if the government of BC insists on making policy based on speculation and fairy tales, I want to know why the government hasn’t solved all its financial and service woes by having Rumpelstiltskin in the legislature basement spinning straw into gold?

The government needs to remember it is suppose to help, not persecute or hinder, the Wellness of citizens in need.

It should be maximizing the bang for the taxpayer buck, rather than wasting the rewards that accrue to the dollars taxpayers spend on medication by allowing the collection of reward/incentive points – points that cost the taxpayer not one additional cent.

Perhaps if the government ceased to waste time and resources chasing mirages of nonexistent savings or dreaming up ways or excuses to abuse British Columbians in need of help, the government COULD address major issues such as the rationing and cutbacks of healthcare.

Whether malice or maladroitness it is time the government ceased to tyrannize British Columbians suffering from serious health issues and a lack of personal resources by allowing them to collect Air Miles® (or participate in other incentive programs).

*************************************

Dear Mr. Breckenridge:

I am writing in response to your emails of July 11 and 18, 2011, regarding the restriction on incentive programs such as Air Miles®. I am pleased to respond on behalf of the Honourable Michael de Jong, QC, Minister of Health.

As you are aware, the British Columbia PharmaCare program is the publicly funded drug insurance program operated by the BC Ministry of Health. The purpose of the PharmaCare program is to assist British Columbians, particularly those with lower incomes, with the cost of eligible prescription drugs and designated medical supplies.

Community pharmacies in BC are retail enterprises that operate in a free market. A free market is defined as an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses. Like other retail businesses, pharmacies set their drug prices and dispensing fees based on what they believe the market will bear – or more specifically on what they believe their customers will pay.

There is a wide variation on what pharmacies in BC charge for prescription drugs. If people purchasing prescription drugs at the higher cost drug stores shopped around, they could save up to 25 percent on their annual drug bill.

For example, people taking commonly prescribed atorvastatin (generic Lipitor) 10 mg once daily could pay over $40 for a 30 day supply of the drug at the more expensive pharmacies in the province. The same amount of the same drug could cost less than $30 dollars at less expensive pharmacies. PharmaCare currently reimburses up to $31.56 for a 30 day supply.

Incentive programs encourage people to shop at a particular pharmacy or pharmacy chain by enticing them with such things as loyalty points, coupons, discounts, goods, rewards and similar schemes rather than with lower prices. Incentive programs cost retailers money, which they build into the price they charge consumers. Customers, particularly those where an insurer pays all or part of their drug costs, may become more concerned about the rewards they are receiving than the cost of the drug. Over time this can contribute to price escalation.

This new policy respects the right of pharmacies to offer incentive programs for customers, but takes government out of the business of subsidizing them.

PharmaCare is also a community pharmacy customer, spending as much as $1 billion annually on prescription drugs for its beneficiaries. While PharmaCare does not have the ability to “shop around” it does set maximum amounts for which government will pay.

While PharmaCare sets a maximum amount it will pay, not all pharmacies bill at the maximum amount. Rather than offering loyalty rewards, if a pharmacy sets its drug price or dispensing fee at a lower amount to attract customers, then customers, PharmaCare and all taxpayers will save money.

Please be aware that the restriction on inducements only affects the portion of a prescription paid by PharmaCare. You may still choose to get your prescription from a pharmacy that offers incentives so you can accrue points/rewards on the amount you pay out-of-pocket.

Further information on PharmaCare’s policy on inducements has been posted on the PharmaCare website. The Information can be viewed at:

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/pdf/inducements.pdf.

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns, and trust that this explains the rationale for restricting incentive programs.

Sincerely,

Bob Nakagawa, B.Sc. (Pharm.), ACPR, FCSHP

Assistant Deputy

Insult to Insult to Injury

Over the years many people have compliment me on my willpower for my dedication in swimming 5 – 6 days a week. The truth is that it is not so much willpower or dedication as it is being highly motivated. 

As the years have accumulated all the contact sports, injuries etc have come home to roost with a vengeance. To maximize, to maintain, mobility and minimize pain I need to swim those 5 -6 days a week.

Which is why the sizable surcharge imposed on the users of the Abbotsford Recreation Centre (and the City’s other facilities) to pay the multi-million dollar subsidy for a professional hockey team and a multi-million dollar subsidy to the well connected members of the Heat ownership group is so painful both as a citizen of Abbotsford and physically.

The surcharges have pushed the cost of a pass for ARC from affordable (with planning and frugality) to out of reach for the best part of Abbotsford’s citizens – as well as propelling the cost of using public facilities well past the cost of using private facilities. Only in Abbotsford would you end up with the public facilities affordable only for the well-to-do and the private facilities affordable to the general public.

The reason I have not followed so many others to the private recreation facilities is that I am a length swimmer and it is only the public facilities that permit 25 metre lengths.

The limitations on swimming imposed by being able to afford to swim only during toonie swim times means that since pool fees moved into the stratosphere my mobility has been decreasing and my pain levels have been increasing.

Struggling stiffly, slowly and painfully up to start the day serves as a daily reminder of city council’s practice of serving the needs of council’s egos rather than the needs of the taxpayers – with the notable exception of well connected taxpayers.

Adding insult to the injury of the usurious surcharge is the decision to abuse perfectly fine walls with paint to caricature a mural – as opposed to using the money frittered away on the mural to keep the cost of admission less extortionate.

A mural that seems to have a great deal in common with a Rorschach inkblot adds yet another layer of insult. Filling balloons with paint and having patrons throw them at the walls would have gotten much the same look, at a negligible cost.

Council, in typical council fashion, painted murals in a building where the cost of painting the murals pushes the admission cost up leaving people unable to afford to use the facility and see the murals.

The purpose of public facilities is not to fritter away money on murals or to provide funds to provide multi-million dollar subsidies to/for a facility for a professional hockey team or to provide multi-million dollar subsidies for an ownership group to buy themselves (themselves – not the city that is paying the subsidies) a professional hockey team.

The purpose of public recreation facilities is to provide amenities that all citizens can afford to access.

Choice isn’t about HST or PST

The author of a recent column on the HST stated “I’m sick of the lies…”, a sentiment I am sure many voters in BC and across Canada would echo. Although I am not sure why.

After all, for decades voters have been rewarding the politicians who have lied to them and told voters what they wanted to hear by electing them and punishing those who wanted to focus on important issues, who told the truth or told voters what they did not want to hear.

To put it in terms of animal husbandry – we have been selecting for and breeding politicians who lie.

So why is anyone surprised that politicians lie?

When you consider the list of issues and challenges voters don’t want or refuse to hear about, or think about and the list of issues and challenges voters ‘know all about’ – even though the evidence shows what they know is erroneous; the choices or priorities voters do not want to have to choose among or set; the things voters just plain don’t want to hear……..it is tough to talk about anything without either lying or eliciting the same response from voters that you get taking a stick to a hive of Africanized bees.

Voters want governments to provide all the services voters feel they are entitled to and/or want, they want them provided NOW – and they don’t want these services to cost them one penny more than they are paying now.

The provincial Liberal government should have said NO to funding anything but provincial infrastructure (i.e. the sea to sky highway upgrades) for the 2010 Winter Olympics. But then Vancouver would have not hosted the Olympics and then everyone (including the voters) would be blaming the Liberals and saying they should have funded the Olympics. And you can bet that if the Liberals had said NO, the NDP would have flipped and been demanding the Liberals fund the Olympics and raising the Liberals ‘losing’ the Olympics as an election issue.

And when the BC Liberals were unable to say no to the federal government’s HST compensation offer because they needed the $1.6 billion so badly to cover Olympic expenses and Olympic cost over runs. No one who supported the 2010 Winter Olympics should be complaining about the HST because the HST is part of the price of hosting the Winter Olympics.

And to layer financial irresponsibility on top of financial irresponsibility they was all the money wasted on throwing a one year anniversary celebration of the Olympics. Where were the taxpayers then? Oh ya, they were out partying.

About politicians the author also said “…. start performing on our behalf instead of using all their brain power on ways to get all our money.”

Politicians are not using all their brain power to get all our money. They are using all their brain power to keep getting re-elected and to form the government. In order to do this they must try to satisfy voters who want more, more, more. Voters who, if they do not get their way, throw a temper tantrum that would put any two year old to shame (as Mr Vander Zalm and the anti-HST forces are doing) and throw out the politicians who dared to suggest that there is such a thing as enough and replace them with politicians who promise voters whatever voters want and tell voters whatever it is they want to hear. You know, the politicians who lie to them.

So it is not that politicians are focused on getting as much money from voters pocketbooks as possible for the sake of getting the money. Rather politicians are focused on giving voters what they want , when they want it – as best they can – in order to get re-elected and remain the government.

It is simply that this course of action requires governments to maximize the amount of milk (cash) the government can get out of people to add to the funds they can borrow so they can give people what they want and are demanding and get re-elected.

The HST and ‘Myths”

An anti-HST supporter was waving around the anti-HST ‘Top 7 HST Myths’ claiming it was absolute proof that extinguishing the HST was the only choice and that extinguishing the HST would have no negative consequences for BC.

Since he wouldn’t let anyone actually read this ‘proof’ it was necessary to hunt up a copy of a paper with the advertisement in its pages to see what ‘proof’ the ‘Top 7 HST Myths’ offered in support of it being worth accepting/suffering the consequences of extinguishing the HST and returning to the PST/GST.

You can find the information allowing you to reach an understanding of the HST, PST/GST, the issues and consequences of extinguishing the HST by going to http://www.hstinbc.ca/media/Its_Your_Decision_GSTPSTHST.pdf and reading the independent panels report yourself.

Because the Extinguish Yes/No decision will have a significant effect on healthcare and other services and the finances of BC it is imperative for voters to invest the time in getting the facts and not the nonsense both sides are vomiting forth.

What is to be found in the “Top 7 HST Myths?

From Myth 1 “…a total tax increase of $1.6 billion per year”; from Myth 2 “…increases taxes for British Columbians by $2.8 billion per year”; from Myth 7″ over $28 billion in new taxes in just 10 years” – $28 ¸10 = $2.8 per year and “the independent panel says the HST generated $850 million more than budgeted.” [the GST was implemented a year ago – July 1, 2010]

So is the tax increase $1.6 billion a year? $2.8 billion a year? or $850 million a year? DUH!

From Myth 7 “Ottawa collected $300 million more in corporate taxes under HST than under PST”

The HST is a sales tax – ‘corporate taxes’ are income taxes.

Prior to the HST Ottawa collected the 5% GST (Goods and Services Tax) in BC. When the HST was implemented by BC it was BC that made changes to what its sales tax was collected on; Ottawa made no changes to the rate (5%) nor on what goods and services that rate applied to.

Under the HST Ottawa collects exactly the same revenue it would have under the GST. DUH!

From Myth 7 “The independent panel says the HST generated $850 million more than budgeted.”

Where? A question readers can seek an answer to while reading the independent panel report “It’s Your Decision”. While reading the report one can read the biographic information on the panel members to form an opinion as to how much weight to give the reports information in making one’s decision.

The report does say that in budget years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 the HST will generate addition GROSS sales taxes of $820 and $893 million which will NET out to $531 and $645 [NET = GROSS – the HST rebates and income tax breaks].

It would appear the anti-HST forces have so poor an understanding of this matter – GST/PST/HST – they fail to understand what “It’s Your Decision’ is actually saying. Reading “It’s Your Decision” makes it obvious that $1.6 billion or $2.8 billion or $850 million are all incorrect figures for the extra revenue the HST generates. DUH!

From Myth 5 “Bribes of $175 per child when your cost is closer to $400 a year each makes you wonder if they think all of us failed math as badly as they did.”

While reading “It’s Your Decision” you can find the information to take $400 per year and determine how much has to be spent per child to generate an extra HST cost of $400 an year. When you do the math – which is rather straight forward and simple – you find that in order to pay $400 more per year per child you need to be spending $33,613.00 per child. Might I suggest that anyone spending $33,613.00 per child per year can afford to pay the extra $400 per child per year in taxes?

Speaking of “…failing math…” – DUH!

From Myth 4 “A onetime rebate of $175…”; from Myth 5 “Bribes of $175 per child…”.

There is the possibility that what these statements reflect is that the anti-HST vote is so committed to ‘winning’ and/or ‘punishing the Liberal government’ they will lie by omission.

On the other hand, with the degree of ignorance and the lack of understanding demonstrated in “Top 7 HST Myths” by the anti-HST forces, the proponents of extinguishing the HST may be ignorant of the $232 million in HST rebates that will be paid out to British Columbians every year and the $200+ million dollars in yearly income tax breaks British Columbians will benefit from with the HST. DUH

From Myth 4 “Seniors and people on fixed incomes are some of the hardest hit by the HST”; from Myth 5 “Next to seniors working families are among the hardest hit by the HST…”

The HST is a sales tax, a consumption tax. The more you spend, the more you consume, the more things you purchase and the higher the cost of your purchases (designer clothes, Ferraris, etc) – the more HST you pay. Those hardest hit by the HST are the big spenders, the wealthy who can most afford to pay more.

If you are a low income earner, poor, living in poverty, living on a (low) fixed income you get HST rebates and/or income tax breaks.

The lower your income, the better off you are financially under the HST. DUH!

From Myth 7 “We’ll owe $1.6 billion if we cancel the HST – False”; BC has received only $1 Billion”.

BC has received two payments from Ottawa, one received when the HST legislation was introduced in the BC legislature and one received July 1. 2011 when the HST went into effect totalling $1.124 billion. The final $475 payment was due July 1, 2011 but with the scheduled referendum on the HST has not been paid and will not be paid until the HST is approved in the referendum. The $1.6 billion represents the total compensation BC was to receive for the HST.

While it is true BC will only need to repay $1.124 billion to Ottawa, it will have to ‘repay’ $475 million to the 2011/2012 BC budget to replace the $475 million it was to have received on July 1, 2011.

No matter how you slice it, BC and BC taxpayers will be out of pocket the $1.6 billion it was to receive from Ottawa for implementing the HST. DUH!

From Myth 7 “the HST generated $850 million more than budgeted……government already has $850 million to repay Ottawa. BC has only received $1 billion and Ottawa collected $300 million more in corporate taxes under the HST than the PST. So it’s a wash.”

As noted earlier 1) the HST has not generated $850 million more than budgeted; 2) BC has received $1.124 million and will have to forgo the final $475 million dollar payment; 3) Ottawa collected the same revenue under the HST as it would have under the GST – there was NO ‘extra’ $300 million collected.

It is not ‘wash’. If the HST is extinguished the BC budget will be out $1.6 billion, and that $1.6 billion will have to be replaced. Either taxes will need to be raised $1.6 billion OR healthcare, other government services and expenditures will have to be reduced $1.6 billion. In other words voting to extinguish the HST is voting for less healthcare (more beds in the hallways, longer waits for services at hospitals and so on) DUH!

Myth 7 “”keeping the HST would cost British Columbians – over $28 billion in new taxes in just 10 years’

If you use the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 numbers from “It’s your decision”, accepting the 25% year-to-year increase in revenue and do the math you get an estimated $10,875 billion which is a far cry from $28 billion (“failed math”?). Duh!

Top 7 HST Myths – the fallacies and WTF are they thinking.

Why would you ever assume that, given our current economy and the demands taxpayers have been making on government, that any HST dollars collected above the budgeted amount remain available to repay Ottawa?

The sluggish economy means that other revenue sources have brought in less dollars that budgeted. The demands taxpayers have been making for more government spending (services) means spending is over budget. Less revenue, more expenses where is the money to cover the budget shortfall to come from? That’s right – the extra revenue generated from the HST. Leaving no mythical big pool of money lying around to repay Ottawa the $1.124 billion and replace the forgone/lost $475 million – $1,599 billion that will have to come from the pockets of British Columbians. DUH!

Declining/returning the $1.6 billion from Ottawa.

Most of the $1.6 billion that BC was to receive from Ottawa came out of the pockets of Canadians other than BC residents. Personally I favour letting Canadians living outside of BC pick up the tab for most of the $1.6 billion. For some unfathomable reason the anti-HST forces want to return this money to other Canadians and have British Columbians pay extra taxes to cover the $1.6 billion.DUH!

That there is and will be no need for new taxes to pay for services provided to citizens by the BC government; that if the HST is extinguished the extra funds the HST would have raised will not have to be raised by other taxes/fees.

While the statement “the ‘independent panel’ says…” would seem to imply the anti-HST forces have read “It’s Your Decision” their own words in “Top 7 HST Myths” make it abundantly clear that if they did read “It’s Your Decision” they failed, or lacked the capacity, to understand the budgetary and financial realities of the Province of BC.

The report, in plain language, sets out the reality that BC, without extra funds (taxes) from somewhere, is facing the need for significant cutbacks of budget expenditures (services such as healthcare).

Indeed the report specifically cites the way healthcare costs are ballooning and the reality that even with the hundreds of millions of extra tax dollars generated by the HST healthcare costs will outstrip the ability of the province to fund healthcare.

So, whether it be from the HST or some other combination of taxes/fees the province of BC either needs significant increases in revenue or to make significant reductions in healthcare, education and other services.

The real question that needs to be addressed isn’t as to whether the HST is raising more money – it is – the question is what are those funds being used for and what are the consequences if those funds are lost.

Finally, the true falsehood revealed by “Top & HST Myths” is the myth that the anti-HST forces understand the issues and consequences involved in extinguishing the HST.

The ‘proof’ contained in “Top 7HST Myths”, set out in the anti-HST forces own words, is that the anti-HST forces lack an understanding (lack the mental acuity to understand?) of the financial and budgetary realties facing the Province of BC or of the nature and workings of the HST.

Disturbingly, if the anti-HST forces cannot comprehend the issues surrounding the provincial budget and the HST – they cannot understand or appreciate the far reaching negative consequences of extinguishing the HST.

Which is at least a more acceptable reason than self-aggrandizement or malice for why the anti-HST forces are working so hard to lead British Columbians off a cliff and int0 self-destruction of the provinces finances, healthcare and other services that would be brought about by extinguishing the HST.

I will be voting NO to the question of extinguishing the HST because of the far reaching consequences.

I urge you to go to http://www.hstinbc.ca/media/Its_Your_Decision_GSTPSTHST.pdf and read “It’s Your Decision” – the independent panels report – for yourself. Read carefully, give it careful thought and make up your mind based on facts not ‘myths’ or hyperbole.