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  • Study explores media coverage of pipeline controversies December 14, 2018
    Supporters of fossil fuel infrastructure projects position themselves as friends of working people, framing climate action as antithetical to the more immediately pressing need to protect oil and gas workers’ livelihoods. And as the latest report from the CCPA-BC and Corporate Mapping Project confirms, this framing has become dominant across the media landscape. Focusing on pipeline […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Study highlights ‘uncomfortable truth’ about racism in the job market December 12, 2018
    "Racialized workers in Ontario are significantly more likely to be concentrated in low-wage jobs and face persistent unemployment and earnings gaps compared to white employees — pointing to the “uncomfortable truth” about racism in the job market, according to a new study." Read the Toronto Star's coverage of our updated colour-coded labour market report, released […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Uploading the subway will not help Toronto commuters December 12, 2018
    The Ontario government is planning to upload Toronto’s subway, claiming it will allow for the rapid expansion of better public transit across the GTHA, but that’s highly doubtful. Why? Because Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek’s emphasis on public-private partnerships and a market-driven approach suggests privatization is the cornerstone of the province’s plan. Will dismembering the […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2018 State of the Inner City Report: Green Light Go...Improving Transportation Equity December 7, 2018
    Getting to doctors appointments, going to school, to work, attending social engagments, picking up groceries and even going to the beach should all affordable and accessible.  Check out Ellen Smirl's reserach on transportation equity in Winnipeg in this year's State of the Inner City Report!
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Inclusionary housing in a slow-growth city like Winnipeg December 3, 2018
    In Winnipeg, there is a need for more affordable housing, as 21 percent of households (64,065 households) are living in unaffordable housing--according to CMHC's definition of spending more than 30 percent of income on shelter.  This report examines to case studies in two American cities and how their experience could help shape an Inclusionary Housing […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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The Progressive Economics Forum

HST Without Harmonization

A recent letter from economists nicely summarized the two main theoretical arguments in favour of the HST: “Businesses, large and small, will face lower administrative costs from complying with one sales tax system instead of two. Lower business costs, especially on capital equipment, will encourage investment and economic activity.”

Both arguments make sense in a stylized model of replacing retail sales taxes with a value-added tax on the GST base. But as I have noted before, the provincial portion of Ontario’s HST exempts some products that are subject to GST and applies to other products that are GST-exempt.

Not surprisingly, the BC government is also “rebating” the provincial portion of its HST on certain items. Indeed, yesterday’s Globe and Mail contained an interesting catalogue of the differences between the HSTs in Ontario and BC. So, businesses are still complying with as many sales-tax systems as before: the federal GST, the provincial portion of Ontario’s HST, and the provincial portion of BC’s HST.

The second pro-HST argument overlooks the exemptions for capital equipment in the former provincial sales taxes. Businesses were already benefiting from sales-tax breaks on major investments.

I made that point repeatedly on this blog and about a year ago in The Globe and Mail. My colleague Kim Pollock did so more recently with specific reference to BC’s forest industry.

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