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BC Liberal leader explains PST tax cut strategy during Campbell River campaign stop

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson continues to push his promise to temporarily cut the provincial sales tax, if he’s elected on Oct. 24th.

During a campaign stop in Campbell River today, Wilkinson said cutting the tax for a year would give British Columbians a chance to get ahead.

“(It’s a) chance to rebuild the economy, a chance to restore confidence and move British Columbia ahead,” he said. “Since we announced the provincial sales tax suspension for a full year, economists left, right, and centre, have said, ‘That’s a good idea.’” 

As for the $7 billion dollar price tag associated with eliminating the PST, Wilkinson said that “we’re in a difficult time.”

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“Our society’s facing its biggest challenge ever in our lifetime,” he said. “We have a rampant pandemic disease that is now in its second wave, we have a society that’s suffering from major economic setbacks, and just like a wartime economy, we have to focus the capacity of government to make things better for people.”

He promised that temporarily eliminating the tax will not lead to any reduction in services in B.C.

Wilkinson also didn’t promise to balance the budget. “I think we all know that governments across the western world are talking about deficit budgets for at least two to three years. The role of government now is to support people’s hopes… to give them a sense of purpose, to give them an opportunity to get ahead.”

Asked if the money lost from cutting the PST would be better spent on services like expanding child care spaces, and employment opportunities for low-income people, Wilkinson said, “We’re in a deep crisis and we have to recognize that this is when government is needed most.”

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He promised further announcements “in the next week or so” on “how we can revitalize childcare in British Columbia and make it possible for parents, and especially mothers, to get back in the workforce.”

Meanwhile, the BC NDP says its Economic Recovery Plan already brought in a one year, 100 percent rebate to businesses on the purchase of machinery and equipment.

The NDP points out that the government already provides a number of exemptions on PST for the logging industry, and that most household essentials are also exempt, including groceries and meals in restaurants, children’s clothing, school supplies, medications, rent, and childcare. 

BC Green Leader, Sonia Fursenau calls the tax cut idea “antiquated,” adding that it shows an astounding lack of imagination. We have reached out to the Conservatives for comment but have yet to hear back.

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