HST protesters gathered outside the Vancouver Convention Centre during the BC Liberal leadership vote in Vancouver, BC. Feb 26, 2011.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI / QMI AGENCY
The panel's new report says the average B.C. family is taxed an extra $350 annually because of the harmonized sales tax, which was implemented last July. But it also says the HST will create 24,400 new jobs by 2020 and add $2.5 billion to the economy.
"Clearly there are short-term benefits, on average $350 additional cash in the pockets of the average British Columbian family, of returning to the PST," panel chairman Jim Dinning told SUN News Network. "But the longer term benefit to that same family of ... better paying jobs or more jobs ... that's the tradeoff. That's what makes it difficult."
The Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association also released survey results on Wednesday showing 87% of respondents reported a drop in sales since the HST took effect, with declines averaging 15% between July 2010 and January 2011.
The survey also indicated that 68% of respondents would vote against the HST in the referendum, which is being done by mail-in ballot.
However, Dinning noted that while some businesses may have been greatly impacted by the tax change, Statistics Canada figures show overall food and drink sales actually rose 3% in B.C. over that same period, in line with the rest of Canada.
The B.C. government is now seeking public feedback on the tax ahead of the referendum with an online survey at: www.HSTinBC.ca/survey.