Tag Archives: BC Liberals

Parking Nazis: The Price You Pay

Parking in Vancouver has been annoying for a long time and is probably this way in most major cities. In some areas there are two (0r one) hour parking zones but they are few and far between and becoming more limited. These are usually in residential areas with high populations, such as the West End or around any commercial streets. The two-hour zones have gone down in recent years as the city puts in more and more metered parking.

Right now those meters run at about $4 an hour. That’s a lot of change but you can pay by cell phone with many of them. However, it was only a year or two ago that the city raised the price of parking, including their EasyPark lots. EasyPark’s mandate is supposed to be affordable parking and while the city said they were raising meter parking to encourage people to not stay in those spots too long and open them up for others, there was no reason to raise the price of parkade and lot parking. Except there’s that Olympic thing, and the deficits that would not happen.

So here we are a year or so later and the city is talking about raising street parking again, to cover their budget deficits. And we all know, once a price goes up it rarely if ever goes down. It will be $6/hour at least. You can bet the city-run EasyPark parkades will follow suit or be ordered to do so. If they really wanted to help with encouraging people to leave their cars at home, then running the SkyTrain later that 12:30 would help and lowering the price of the transit fair especially for going to the downtown core would be an incentive. I believe Calgary does this.

But what’s even a more surprising and sneaky move, voted on quietly behind closed doors was that TransLink will be raising the tax on parking in the New Year. How can one raise a tax when the PST and GST are set amounts. Well, TransLink thinks they are a power unto themselves and have voted in to raise the PST to 21%. How they can do this when it’s legislated by the government? I don’t know but I’d like some answers. So consider this: when you park anywhere in the lower mainland next year, if it’s run by EasyPark or possibly even the metered parking, the cost will reflect 26% in taxes (5% GST). How this will change with the GST might be even higher.

Translink has said they don’t have the money to build anymore lines but were still spending millions on doing the studies. Well now we know where those millions and where those possible future lines will come from: nearly a third from people’s pockets just for taxes and illegally done at that. They are an arm of the provincial government I believe though it’s been hard to find that and the provincial Liberals are overbugdget on the Olympics too.

Let’s add in that the government will be taxing us on things not previously taxed with the HST and you’re looking at a province that won’t be spending as much. If you eat at a restaurant with ther liquor tax and the HST, that’s going to be at least 12% plus 15% tip and that will be near 30% on every food bill. If you’re parking, it will be nearly 30% on every parking spot.

We’ve hit a new era and the only thing difference between TransLink, or the provincial government and a thug’s is they’re not holding guns to our heads but they’re robbing us on the sly nonetheless. If you don’t want to be taxed to death, protest the HST, write your MLA and MP and ask for accountability from TransLink. If every merchant of anything refused to charge HST, then the government would be stuck but in this case being Canadian will be our downfall, where we’re too polite to truly protest.

http://www.easyparkvancouver.com/

Translink

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There is No Harmonization to Campbell’s New Tax

Gordon Campbell’s two-faced Liberals want to bring in a tax that they say they had no idea about three months ago. If this is in fact true I’d have to say this party is pretty poor in long-term planning. Long-term planning that raised and then took off a half percent on our PST (2004). Poor planning in giving everyone a pre-election bribe of $100. Poor planning in the Olympics, embroiling our tax dollars into it, and then going, oh gosh it’s overbudget. I could have told them this three years ago.

Was ever a word so misused as to take two taxes and call it harmonization? GST, the government tax, covers many things but not food (unless you’re buying a bag of nachos or cookies because the government decided that was unnecessary. Oh and you can buy two cookies and pay GST but not if you buy six, unless it’s a bag, like a bulk thing. If you figure this out, let me know, but the feds have been taxing our food choices for a long time.) So GST hits many things.

And then there’s PST, the provinicial sales tax. It also hits some things but not always the same things as the GST. Some of the items usually exempt are books, children’s clothing and footwear, vitamins, dietary supplements and food for human consumption. But if you’re at a restaurant that food is charged GST because it’s a service, I think. It’s never made a lot of sense.  Here is a list of what is currently PST exempt (not a full list) but will possibly have the HST on them: PSTexemptions

One glib quote by the Tourism Minister was: “The HST is going to be good for all concerned, but there are going to be exceptions,” intoned B.C. Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger. (seattlepi.com) Hmm, good for all but there are exceptions, like every consumer out there. Basically you and me, unless you’re big business. And one minister said something like, all the provinces have done this HST, except that Alberta, NWT, Yukon and Nunavut have no provincial tax. Only New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia have an HST. That is hardly all of the other provinces by far. And remember, we pay these taxes as we buy things and then when we do income tax we pay federal and provincial tax at that time as well.

Facebook already has over 100,000 members protesting the NO BC HST. A recent poll puts people opposing the HST at 87%. How does the government think this is fair when it’s not even an extra percent we’ll be paying on many items (which include such things as condo fees). It’s not even 5% more, the rate of the GST, which would be exorbitant. It’s 7%, which is more than double. Imagine going out for dinner and you know how a bill for $60 often has an extra $10 of tax on it? Well, that will be now an extra $20 in tax. Will I be going out as much? No. And the same will happen to many people. Or they’ll go out an pay less in tips because of the extra cost. This will of course impact the restaurant and entertainment industry, where people will then be laid off because business has slowed.

Those exempt school books and kids’s clothes? No more. It’s already a shame that we have tax on books and food in any form but you’ll probably not be buying a bag of chips when you’re paying 12% on the price of the bag. Because the government has given warning but not bothered to discuss this first, there is huge backlash. And really what is the reasoning for increasing our taxes by 7% on things? Deficit. Campbell screwed up.

I can’t even get into the fiasco of the Olympics and how so many things weren’t reported on and budgets were not revealed. How many aspects are costing waaay more than anticipated (because they didn’t want to shock the taxpayers)? The City of Vancouver raised the price of their city parking as a way to gather more revenue for their part of the Olympics. Campbell, well he’s not admitting he screwed up, but he’ll just charge us extra so he can pay off the Olympic deficit.

If you want to pay more, sit back and be harmonized. If not, then do everything you can. Complain, contact your MLA and MP. Writer letters. But if you think the protests and petitions will change the tune that Campbell is singing, think again. When he made massive cuts in his first reign, there were 40,000+ people who protested in person, and Campbell just continued scything through jobs. And lest people forget, he tore up union contracts of hospital workers, subsequently causing the cleanliness of hospitals to deteriorate more, and was found by the courts to be in the wrong, but that was years later, even if those people had to be compensated. He probably saved himself a few bucks doing that.

So, I’m just saying, Campbell is very close to all those dictators, who do what they want, trumping it up as “good for the people who don’t know what’s good for them”. And even if the people protest vehemently, it will make no difference. Just watch and see.

Oh and if you didn’t vote in the last election, no matter what you voted, then it’s your fault. With 50% voter turnout it could have changed things, or maybe not. But if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain because you didn’t try and do anything about it.

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Carbon Tax and Post Consumer Waste

I received my $100 carbon tax credit (govspeak calls it the Climate Action Dividend) from the BC government yesterday. Of course, they can’t just send the money but have to include some do-good hype to cover up that they’re not actually doing much that’s green. Supposedly this is a revenue neutral tax because “by law, all revenue raised by the carbon tax must be returned to individuals and businesses through reductions to other taxes.”

The enclosed pamphlet is not high-end glossy so that’s good. It’s an 8×12.25″ piece of paper, folded into fours and double sided (French on one side, English on the other). It sports four-colour printing, which is always expensive. Were the colours needed to print the pictures of a child holding a plant, two people walking in a forest or the person’s head with thought balloons of a light bulb, lawnmower and a running shoe, or would two colour have done as well? I lookied closely for the recycling logo. There is none but it says this at the bottom:

By using 40% post consumer recycled paper for this project we saved… 262 trees, 10,780 kilograms of solid waste, 98,978 litres of water, 34, 105 kilowatt hours of electricity, 19,595 kilograms of greenhouse gases, 50 cubic metres of landfill space.

Saved? Hmm.

Let’s see…only 40% post consumer paper when many other magazines and publications use 60-100%? But maybe it wasn’t good enough for printing four colour. There is no mention of using vegetable based inks. And let’s look closer at this “SAVING” aspect. The Liberal government sent a cheque to every man, woman and child living in BC. That’s approximately 4, 428,000 people as of April 1. How many trees, water and kilowatts of electricity were used for this propaganda? How much landfill and greenhouse gases were created in printing this?

The carbon tax is for all forms of fuel including propane, oil, gas, diesel and natural gas. Yet if you look at the smartchoicesbc site it says there’s a tax on natural gas but then it says there’s a PST exemption for natural gas. WTF?

Content… we must look at content because it has an important message, doesn’t it? Oh and it’s from the Minister of Finance, not the Minister of the Environment. Well we are talking about money and what you can save but aren’t we really talking about lowering greenhouse gases? It does list six things you can do, four of which apply to homeowners, one for car owners and one for anyone who wants to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs.

I’ve been trying to get my landlord to put in better weather stripping. I already have the light bulbs so will I see more of this neutral revenue in my taxes right away? I don’t think so. It’ll be averaged out. A real climate action dividend for me would have been the government saving the money by not adding this mostly inane pamphlet, but taking the “saved” costs and lowering the price of public transit. That would really help me. As it goes, $100 doesn’t cover a two-zone transit pass for even one month.

And really, did the government need to send out a brochure to give us some simple examples of “Climate Smart Action” when most people will toss the cheques in their bank accounts and spend it on whatever comes next, either bills or that next tank of gas?

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Healthscare: the Undermining of Our Free Health

I’ve already said that if the government is so worried about the funding for our health care, then part of the solution is preventative medicine. This means you can’t deny people services when they’re in an acute stage. The longer one waits for treatment, the more it costs the health system as the problem becomes chronic, sometimes with life lasting problems.

At the same time, each provincial government seems to have the impunity to whittle away our health care any way they want, without the federal government saying anything. In BC, we used to get 12 covered visits for chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage therapy each. I suffer from soft tissue problems which often take the combination of massage and chiropractic to stop my bones from being pulled out of alignment by my over-tight muscles. The BC government somehow didn’t believe that these therapies helped people so they took them away. Then you were allowed ten visits total and only if on subsidized medical.

Subsidized? But surely health care is free in Canada. Well, some provinces are freer than others. Alberta and BC pay a monthly premium (in which you are harassed, ignored and strong-armed into these payments–to be elucidated on later). BC residents pay $54 a month. Oh, and let’s see what we lost when the Liberal (liberal?!!) government decided to bleed us, but not for our health.

  1. Premiums doubled (we’ve always had to pay)
  2. Massage, physio and chiro went to no free visits (or only 10 combined if you were subsidized)
  3. Podiatrists were dropped (what happens to people’s feet as they get older)
  4. Optometrists were dropped (what happens to eyes as people get older)

Optometrists seem to be covered if you have a health problem but a check-up is not. Glasses and/or contacts have never been covered. Likewise, somehow dental health has never been covered. As someone who has no medical/dental plan, the cost of even the basic dental health is out of reach for many people. I’ll be paying out over $2000 for one crown and one root canal. Feet problems? Well I may have to put those off. Back problems. I suffer longer, use more painkillers which do not work and worry about the problems that become worse with time, where I must visit the doctor more often, get more prescriptions and seek more specialists.

Over the years of the mismanagement of MSP (Medical Services Plan) I have written letters and asked why we pay when other provinces do not. To this day I have never received any communication from MSP except for the automaton bills, which are erratic at best. I’ll devote a piece just to the unfair billing practises of MSP.

And now we’re looking at bill c-51 about to be passed where you and I will not be able to buy vitamin C, echinacea or anything else we want over the counter. We’ll need prescriptions and that will cost more. My last prescription: the drug was $6.50, the dispensing fee was $8.30. What will this mean? Pharmaceutical companies and drugstores will get richer, we’ll put greater strain on the health care system by either having to see our doctor for a prescription or by ignoring and taking no vitamins.

Granted there is a lot of self-medication and taking supplements that don’t do anything but really, will I need a doctor’s permission to take vitamin C and iron. Write your member of parliament if you’re concerned about any of this.

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A Welfare State of Mind

The BC government thinks they shouldn’t raise the rate for welfare recipients because it might equal the rate of the working poor. Notice that they’re not going to do anything with raising the minimum wage so there are fewer working poor or get rid of their contentious two-tier wage, where younger people can be paid a lower minimum wage.

In any system, whether just paying income tax, being on welfare, unemployment or being employed, there are people who cheat. In all cases, it’s a small number of people. For welfare, most of the people are on it, not because they’re lazy or bilking the system, but because they have to be.

I speak from both sides of the fence. In my twenties I was out of work and putting in fifty applications a month. I had finished high school, graduated from art college and still could not find a job. I lived in a house with two other people. At one point we were all unemployed. Rent was still cheaper than trying to move. With welfare for each of us, we still had to get food from the food bank because welfare barely covered the cost of rent. Any extra bills, and I had fewer then, were beyond the means.

Welfare is designed to belittle, humiliate and keep people impoverished. It used to be, decades ago, that a woman on welfare also had to answer for her social life, everything from who visited to what their boyfriends did, if they were even allowed to have a male visitor. More women than men are on welfare. If a marriage falls apart and the guy is  a deadbeat dad, then the woman is left with trying to get a job, plus raise children and provide childcare, and often childcare amounts to as much as she earns. So she ends up on welfare. Or as a prostitute.

Welfare punishes you if you get a job that doesn’t pay enough or isn’t full time. You’re given a base amount (if you’re single–$610/mo.) but should you make some money, you have to deduct it against the welfare amount. I’m not sure what this is. Navigating through the labyrinth of the BC government’s income assistance site does not net you this information, so I’m presuming it’s the same. If you’re on unemployment I believe you’re allowed to make $50/wk before the amount is deducted against your unemployment amounts. So let’s presume it’s something like this.

What then happens is a person isn’t encouraged to get a part time job, if they still must be on welfare. You end up working for the same amount you would get for not working. When I was in such a situation the only way I survived was by being hired by one company for two days a week. Yes, it was under the table so that I could actually survive on welfare. Eventually, they hired me full time and with great relief I said good bye to the humiliation of welfare.

Many years later I ended up in a situation where I had been freelancing for years, but had lost my clients at the same time. I couldn’t get unemployment because I was freelance. I was $300 short of rent one month as I was looking for more work. I didn’t know what to do so I appealed to welfare. At that point I had about $4,000 in RRSPs, my retirement income, in hopes that I won’t have to live under a bridge in my elder years. All I needed was $300 for one month. I would have even repaid it, but no, I was told I would have to exhaust my RRSPs first. I’m sure if I had owned a house they would have wanted me to sell it. They might have wanted me to sell the car I had but it wasn’t worth much and would have left me more stranded for work.

I found it particularly transparent of a government’s true attitude, where they were willing to bankrupt people completely and leave them destitute in the name of keeping them off welfare. I would have then been a full welfare recipient in my retirement with no resources to fall back on. Somehow, something came through last minute, saving me. But in my desperation I was seriously contemplating prostitution. That’s where the government welfare policies put many people.

And if you get only $610/mo and don’t have several roommates, and perhaps a couple of bill payments, well, then you might end up sleeping on the streets so you can eat and pay those bills. There are people, the working poor, who likewise live on the streets because they can’t afford housing. Eventually that hard living will cause more health problems and then the government will pay out more in health services to heal those people. But it’s much better to keep a person less than poor so that they can never get out of the perpetual welfare state.

I pray that with the cost of housing, heating and the rising price of food, that I don’t eventually retire into abject poverty. I wish I could say this was too far from the truth to consider, but it’s a reality that could just be around the corner. It’s too bad that supposedly progressive governments have such short vision and lack the perspective to take their thinking out of a welfare state.

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/News/2008/04/PressRelease1868/index.cfm?pa=BB736455

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080423.wxbcwelfare23/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20080423.wxbcwelfare23

http://www.eia.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/2007/increase_table.htm

http://thetyee.ca/News/2008/04/22/Poverty/

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