Harmonized Sales Tax will hit seniors in care homes hard

The recent changes to the HST brought in by the provincial Liberals were obviously as well thought out as was its initial introduction.

The recent changes to the HST brought in by the provincial Liberals were obviously as well thought out as was its initial introduction. 

Offering $175 cheques to some seniors can at best be described as bribery to accept the HST.

When the HST was introduced seniors and others on limited incomes bore the brunt of the changes because many of the exemptions from PST were eliminated under HST thereby increasing the tax payable to 12 per cent from five per cent.

Seniors buy products like Tylenol or Tums from the local pharmacy because they are essential for daily comfort. 

As individual needs vary so much it is not possible to estimate how much that extra seven per cent tax amounts to per year.  

However without the ability to purchase these products the overall health of some seniors will deteriorate and the provincial health care system will have to pick up the tab for the extra visits to GPs and emergency departments.

We would all like to stay in our own home for as long as possible and it is recognized that home care is essential for some. Home care for seniors is, and must remain, a vital part of all future health care strategies. 

For many seniors to stay at home they have to pay privately for some home care as they may be unable to perform light cleaning tasks, shop for their basic needs or need a ride to the doctor’s office. 

This type of service is not available through the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) within the provincial system and therefore must be paid for privately. 

If that payment was only $50 per week, or $2,600 per year, the additional seven per cent HST would be $182.

Many need more help than this and are paying an extra $50, $100 and more per month HST compared to PST. If they were unable to pay for these services they would have to go ‘into care.’

The affect that the additional seven per cent HST has had on the residents of private care facilities on Vancouver Island is even worse. 

Don’t for one moment think that all the people in private care are independently wealthy and can afford to pay the additional tax. 

They are not, and they cannot. 

Most of them worked hard all their lives, were frugal and their reward was that they owned their own homes or they had some savings and maybe a company pension.  

Prior to the introduction of HST many seniors living in independent/supportive facilities were already being financially assisted by their families to pay their rent. 

The rent is unlikely to be less than $2,500 per month, or $30,000 per year. The additional seven  per cent imposed on them by HST amounts to another $2,100 per year. 

What will happen to these seniors when they can no longer pay their rent? 

It may be only a matter of time until this starts to happen.

The additional seven per cent HST will be devastating for many seniors on Vancouver Island.

How many pieces of silver was it?

Roy Summerhayes lives in Qualicum Beach