Monday, September 6, 2010

Ontario's Children's Activity Tax Credit Lacks Vision

Ontario has recently proposed a Children's Activity Tax Credit. Like the Harper Conservatives before them, the McGuinty Liberals lack vision. Instead of looking at a physical activity tax credit as a way to reduce health care costs for the entire population, they're approaching it from a "family values" perspective and offering the credit only to children.

Especially in tough economic times, providing all Ontarians a tax break to help them afford physical activity would be wise. Exercise relieves stress and wards off depression... these ailments are widespread during a recession, and they reduce productivity, contribute to days off work, and increase demand on health care.

What should be on the table is an Ontario Activity Tax Credit, available to everyone. The reasoning is simple... lifelong physical activity prevents illness and infirmity, which in turn will reduce demands placed by citizens on the health care system. The payoff in health care savings would dwarf the cost of the credit. Making an activity credit available to everyone makes good sense.

What can you do? Send Dalton McGuinty a message. Then send your MPP a message too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Repeal Ontario's Tax on Reading!

With the HST tax grab that came into effect on July 1st, one thing that was to remain unchanged was that books would remain free from provincial sales tax (the federal government has been taxing reading for years with the GST).

That hasn't happened. While paper books remain tax-exempt, e-books, which are the future of reading and the publishing industry, are now taxed 13% HST instead of only 5% GST.

There is a detailed HST Info Sheet on the taxing of books here; in the fine print it specifies that:

"For purposes of the rebate, the term 'printed book' has its ordinary meaning. Therefore, electronic and digital books will not qualify as printed books for purposes of the rebate."

Amazon recently announced that it sells more e-books than hardcovers.

What the Ontario government has done is to sneakily break their promise not to tax books, and they've done it by taxing the future of reading. They figure that by the time book-buyers clue into the paper vs. e-book tax discrepancy, that they'll have forgotten that this is a new tax, and one which McGuinty promised us we wouldn't have to pay.

In fact, current Ontario government HST propaganda specifies that:

"Other products will be eligible for a point-of-sale rebate for the provincial part of the HST. This means you will only pay the 5 per cent federal portion of the HST. These include print newspapers, books (including audio books),".

That seems pretty clear, doesn't it? But apparently an e-book isn't a book. McGuinty has made a big deal about how the HST is good for business, but with this new tax on books, he's struck a blow to the publishing industry. He's made the fastest growing segment in publishing 8% more expensive. Is that good for business? Is it good for Ontario? I don't think so.

Putting a tax on reading is poor public policy. It raises the cost of education for students of all ages. Books are the primary form by which we transmit knowledge in our society, and the foundation on which our knowledge-based economy is built. For all the good reasons we didn't tax reading before July 1st, we shouldn't begin to tax it afterward. Making a distinction between books and e-books is disingenuous at best, intentionally deceptive at worst.

What can you do? Write a message to Premier Dalton McGuinty, and then write one to your local MPP, too. (If you're really ambitious, ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper to drop the GST tax on reading, too!)

You can also join the Repeal Ontario's Tax on Reading Facebook group, and visit If you really want to make a difference, vote NDP in the next election...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Canada holds anti-dictatorship (aka anti-prorogation) rallies nation-wide.

I never in my life expected we'd have protests against a dictatorship here in Canada, yet yesterday there were protests against Stephen Harper held across the country.  (Here's the poster; put it everywhere!)

Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister, has twice now closed (prorogued) Parliament to avoid his government being held accountable for its actions.  While Parliament is closed, Harper is able to rule by fiat, issuing decrees from the Prime Minister's office with no accountability to our Parliament.  By proroguing, he strips our democracy of the checks and balances which are built into it to prevent dictators like Harper from arising.

So there I was yesterday, with a large group of people in front of St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra's office.  Dykstra of course didn't show his face (understandable, since his government's actions are indefensible), but I walked by his office less than two hours later and noticed that all of the signs we had taped to the windows had been taken down already.  In typical Conservative government fashion, Dykstra's supporters had quickly whitewashed the issue.

It doesn't matter what political party Harper belongs to, his actions have proven he has no respect for the democratic system he's supposed to be part of.  In our next election (which hopefully will be very soon), every Canadian needs to cast a vote against dictatorship by casting a vote against Stephen Harper and his cronies.  Harper's style of politics has no place in Canada's democracy.

External:  Niagara at Large also covered the rally.