I have to tell you, the reality is that only the people of Ontario know that this is a bad tax. They know that politicians will say whatever they want to say to get elected, if you're a Liberal, and they'll say whatever they can say if you're a Conservative to pretend that it's not your problem and you never thought it up in the first place.
I have to say, I am extremely disappointed in both of my colleagues' parties. I'm very disappointed in what they're doing, digging up all this stuff. Come and talk about what the tax is actually going to do to Ontarians. Tell Ontarians exactly what they are going to pay for now that they didn't have to pay before.
My colleague read some of them out but I have a list that I think might be exhaustive and I think-if anybody's watching-it includes: gasoline for your car; hydro and home heating; the Internet; veterinary care; newspapers and magazines; prepared foods under $4; personal care services; hair styling; professional services; legal and mutual fund fees; campgrounds; taxi fares; real estate commissions; ice rink rentals; dry cleaning; labour costs for your home renovations; car rentals; funerals; domestic air, rail and bus tickets; vitamins; new homes over $400,000; and commercial property rentals.
That's what's included. That's where the taxes are going to come from. You can say all you want that it's going to help business and I have no doubt it's going to help some business, but it's going to hurt consumers. It's going to hurt the very people who voted for you in the last election and the very people you told you wouldn't do it. That's who's going to be hurt. If you look at them and you tell them honestly, and look at what is going to happen, we know that with condo fees-and I've got a quote here from Murray Johnson, regional manager with Brookfield Residential. On condo fees: "When we ran the computer simulation of budgets we were able to consistently arrive at the overall 6.8% increase to the annual budget and thereby the monthly fees. We are somewhat reassured that our numbers are correct in that we have heard our major competitors have arrived at the same figures."
So if you live in a condo, you are looking at a 6.8% increase. I heard a question asked the other day, and what a question: Are rents going to go up? No, the rents can't go up and the rents aren't going to go up, but the cost to the people who own the apartment buildings are going to go up approximately 3%, and they are going to apply to have that rent increased. You know and I know it's going to happen.
David Murrell of the University of New Brunswick has done a study on this already, and he suggested that, over the next few years, Ontario consumers will pay $7.1 billion more annually. It works out to $1,560 per household. The consumers aren't being fooled. They know who's going to pay: They're going to pay. And it doesn't matter whether Jim Flaherty likes it or Dalton McGuinty was once opposed to it. In the end, the people who are going to pay are the consumers, and they are not going to forget come the next election. They are not going to forget what is happening here in this Legislature and what is being debated.
In fact, when we informed some of the 100,000 people who have signed our petition of the debate here today and what Mr. Zimmer was putting forward, we received literally 1,000 e-mails. I'd like to read a couple of them, because this is what ordinary people out there think of this whole debate.
The first one is from Sandy Allan. "My wife and I are both senior citizens; we live in a condo. If this tax goes through we may have to sell up and move into rental accommodation; our condo fees are high enough as it is."
The next one, from Joni Bottos: "Say no to HST! In today's economy, we should be doing all we can to promote commerce. The introduction of HST will only cause people to think twice about spending money."
Or how about from Richard Reilly and Euna Branch from Innisfil, Ontario, who said, "While I am aware of recent government deficits and the need for new sources of tax, I find that for retired persons such as myself, there will be a very significant increase in my cost of living, as much as $500, which I can ill afford."
Or how about Tanya Loeffen from Scotia Plaza: "In my opinion, by adding additional tax to services that are not currently taxed, i.e. haircuts, the government will do damage to the already rocky economy."
Or how about Gary Dinkel: "Another tax is simply unacceptable. As a senior on limited income, you will make everyday living even more expensive. I say no to this tax. Put yourself in our shoes."
Or how about Krysia Steinberg, who writes: "I cannot afford an additional increase in hydro, water, gas, repairs."
Or how about Cary Roy: "Once again a family that is just making it by will have to dish out more money to taxes, and once again the working class has to bear the brunt of the majority of the costs to implement this money grab."
I want to leave some time for my friend, but a couple more: "As a resident of Ontario, I am appalled that you would even consider bringing in the HST next year or any year for that matter.
"The people of this province are struggling enough to keep their heads above water. The jobless rate is at its highest and the welfare lines are growing and the food banks are empty....
"Shame on you!" from Maureen Fitzpatrick from Grimsby, Ontario.
Last but not least: "Please do not harmonize the GST and PST taxes.
"I do not appreciate the tax grab. Those of us working are already struggling with higher food and energy costs," from Karen Martini, from Mississauga, Ontario.
I've got lots. The time is limited. I just want to say that the people of Ontario are not being fooled. They're not being dragged into what Jim Flaherty wants, what Dalton McGuinty wants, what Tim Hudak said 10 years ago. They want not to be taxed in a way that this government is doing it, and they are telling this government that they are putting themselves at risk by continuing to do so.
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