Friday, August 28, 2009

IMPACT OF HST ON RESTAURANTS & LOCAL FARMS

Hi Everybody,

Yesterday I participated in Question Period for the first time.

The transcript is below.

Here is the link where you can watch it: http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/video/archive.asp?video=200908271300&time=13:53:53&duration=00:34:53&toc=archive My question starts at the 16:40 minute mark.

IMPACT OF HARMONIZED SALES TAX
ON RESTAURANT INDUSTRY
AND LOCAL FARMS

L. Popham: By implementing a tax that threatens B.C.'s restaurant industry, this government is slamming the door on a critical market for B.C. farms. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Recently the president of the Island Chefs Collaborative, Cory Pelan, stated that the connection between small local farms and the restaurants they supply is a direct and mutually sustainable one. However, Mr. Pelan said that because the HST threatens the restaurant industry, it also threatens B.C.'s small and medium-sized farms, which depend on local restaurants buying their fresh produce. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

My question is to the Minister of Agriculture. Did you consider the negative impacts on small farms when you supported the HST? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: Let me tell you what was actually the biggest threat to the restaurant industry that's occurred in the last number of years. It was actually a commitment…. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Just sit down, Minister. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Members.

Continue, Minister. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: The biggest threat to the restaurant industry in recent years was the commitment that was made by that party that would jack up their wage cost by 25 percent, and the industry itself said it would lay off thousands of restaurant workers and close literally hundreds of restaurants around British Columbia. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

To the benefit of the hon. member, the B.C. Agriculture Council, which represents 12,000 farmers in British Columbia, is in support of HST because it takes costs out of their costs in producing the food that we depend on. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Mr. Speaker: Member has a supplemental. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

L. Popham: The Minister of Agriculture didn't answer my question. My question is about small farmers and local food production for local restaurants. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, has stated today that the connection between the restaurant industry and local food and beverage producers provides a material boost to the local economy. B.C. Restaurants and Foodservices Association does not support the HST. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Given the devastating effect HST will have on the restaurant industry and local farms in B.C., will the Minister of Agriculture stand up for these industries and demand the Premier cancel the proposed HST in British Columbia? [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Hon. C. Hansen: As I pointed out to representatives of the restaurant industry in one of our discussions, even a head of lettuce has embedded PST built into the cost. The cost of putting tires on the trucks that move produce from the farms to the distribution warehouses and from those warehouses to the restaurants has embedded PST in it that gets passed on in terms of the cost of those goods. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

I can tell you what is the biggest threat to the restaurant industry in British Columbia. It's people who are unemployed, and that threat is because people who don't have jobs don't typically go out to restaurants to dine. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

This is a measure that's going to create jobs. This is a measure that's going to stabilize the economy and provide for economic growth, and it is exactly that economic growth that will help benefit a restaurant industry in the years to come. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]