GST portion on home heating must go

As the leaves begin to change colour and the first frost arrives, we also begin our preparations for those six chilly months ahead. We put away our summer wear and look for our mitts, and start to look for those snow shovels and snow blowers once again.
Another painful thing we must do as winter approaches is turn on the heat in our homes—and more painful yet we must pay those heating bills.
Having to heat in your home in Northwestern Ontario on those minus-30 degree C January nights is not a luxury or an option; it’s a necessity. Yet thanks to the Harper Conservative government, supported by the Ignatieff Liberals and the McGuinty Liberals in Toronto, that necessity of life has become eight percent more expensive for you.
New Democrats, at all levels of government, believe this is unacceptable.
Heating our homes in the winter was never a cheap proposition to begin with, but whether you heat your home with oil, natural gas, or hydro, it now will cost you an extra eight percent.
This is one of the major reasons why my New Democrat colleagues and I have fought so hard against the HST.
New Democrats always are offering proposal to make life affordable; a national pharmacare plan, pension protection, and ending gas price gouging are just a few examples.
In keeping with this tradition, we now are calling on the federal government to immediately remove the GST portion of the HST on home heating, which would reduce your heating costs by five percent.
In Ontario, home heating costs (the price of oil, gas, and electricity) have risen 17 percent in the last six months, and in large part because of the introduction of the HST. We believe that lowering those costs by removing some or all of that tax would go a long way in making life more affordable over the winter months.
The cost of our proposed GST/HST exemption usually is the first thing I’m asked about when I discuss this proposal. The total cost to the federal government for a five percent HST cut on home heating would be about $700 million for this year.
That’s certainly a good chunk of change, but it would make a huge difference to our household budgets in Northwestern Ontario, where we have been hit hard by declines in the tourism and forestry sectors, and where home heating costs usually are more to begin with.
In addition to asking for removal of the federal portion of the HST on home heating, New Democrats also are asking the Conservative government to re-introduce the ecoEnergy Retrofit Program so families can retrofit their homes and further reduce their heating and energy bills moving forward.
Restarting the retrofit program also would stimulate job growth in the construction sector, which again is in a downswing, and would cost the federal government about $200 million.
The Conservatives are quick to say that we can’t afford the $900 million cost of these proposals. Realistically, though, these programs are a bargain, especially when compared to the $18 billion the Harper government is paying for those 65 fancy new military jets or the $2.5 billion in tax cuts they are passing along primarily to the banking and oil sectors.
Canada’s New Democrats were the only party to vote against Bill C-62 (the federal HST legislation) and we seem to be the only ones who actively are pursuing policies to make life more affordable during these tough times.
We believe our proposals to exempt the GST/HST on home heating, along with the renewal of the ecoEnergy program, would make a real difference to our household budgets.
If you agree, then I invite you to visit http://heatyourhome.ca to find out more about this proposal and to show your support.

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