In an email to candidates of the three main political parties running in the May 2009 Provincial Election, President Miriam Maisonville asked for a response to the issue of PST on legal fees. (also called SST – social service tax). Here is the text of the President’s email and the responses received by date and party:
I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (CBABC). The CBABC represents over six thousand lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across British Columbia. Our organization is considered the trusted, non-partisan voice of the BC legal profession.
During this election, at time when policies are actively debated, we wish to bring to your attention the unfair policy of applying Provincial Sales Tax (PST) to legal services in British Columbia.
The PST places an additional financial burden on those who need legal services to prevent and resolve their problems. This is a tax paid by individuals, families and businesses that no-one is subject to in competing provincial jurisdictions such as Alberta or Ontario, and it directly penalizes those who must access and provide legal services.
In addition to being an impediment to the access of justice, taxing legal services also hurts our economy. A study conducted by BC economist Dr. Roslyn Kunin showed that the economic impact of the tax on legal services includes:
- increased cost of doing business in BC relative to other jurisdictions;
- a specific burden on new-economy businesses like biotechnology, IT, film and new media that are large users of legal services to protect intellectual property; and
- a “tax on capital”, which most economists oppose because this type of tax reduces economic growth which in turn reduces government revenue.
CBABC has long sought the elimination of this tax for the reasons outlined above. You will see an advertisement in Friday’s Vancouver Sun in which we outline some of the negative impacts of this tax. Our Association is calling on candidates from all major parties to advise us in writing of their position on this matter. Please be advised that all responses will be provided to our members in advance of Election Day. I ask that you inform us of your views, either to my email address (email@example.com) or by fax to the CBABC Office (604.669.9601, or toll free 1.877.669.9601).
Thank you in advance for your response to this issue during this busy time.
BC Provincial Candidate Response Letters
Green Party of British Columbia
Dirk Becker, Nanaimo
Helen Chang, Burnaby-Lougheed
Ryan Conroy, Vancouver-Hastings
Michelle Corcos, North Vancouver-Lonsdale
Bernadette Keenan, Surrey-Whalley
Hazel Lennox, Comox Valley
Bev Markle, Kamloops South Thompson
Robin McKim, Westside-Kelowna
Heather Nicholds, Victoria
Wayne Osborne, Parksville Qualicum
Drina Read, Vancouver-West End
Adam Saab, Victoria-Beacon Hill
Gerald Singh, Surrey-Tynehead
April Snowe, Kamloops North Thompson
Sarah Svensson, Columbia River-Revelstoke
Jennifer Tsuida, Kootenay East
Rev Warkentin, Vancouver-Kingsway
Michael Wolfe, Richmond Centre
New Democrat Party of British Columbia
Jenny Kwan, MLA, Vancouver-Mt Pleasant
Tom Friedman, Kamloops South Thompson
Brenton Walters, Policy and Correspondence Coordinator [on behalf of all NDP candidates]
[posted May 11, 2009]