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POLL: Few think scrapping HST will improve BC economy

A new poll suggests that, while British Columbians still don't like the HST, not many of us believe that scrapping it will improve the economy.

An online poll conducted by Insights West found 52 per cent support for dumping the HST. Some 37 per cent were opposed to scrapping the tax; 11 per cent were unsure.

The Gordon Campbell government announced it was switching to the HST shortly after the 2009 election after denying during the campaign it had any intention of doing so. The move caused a political uproar. As a result of a 2011 referendum, B.C. reverts to the GST/PST system today.

In the referendum, 55 per cent favoured scrapping the HST while 45 per cent favoured keeping it.

The poll found 28 per cent of respondents said ending the HST will benefit the B.C. economy. But 39 per cent said they believe it will harm the economy. Some 21 per cent said they think the change will have no impact and 13 per cent didn’t know. (The numbers may not add to 100 because of rounding.)

Respondents were more likely to say the change will improve their personal economic situation: 38 per cent thought their personal finances will improve because of the change; 15 per cent thought it will hurt. A further 35 per cent said it will have no effect and 12 per cent were unsure.

"It appears that more British Columbians are confident that the change back to the PST/GST will result in consumers paying less for goods and services than there are British Columbians who are confident that the change will actually be good for the broader economy," Insights West senior vice-president Catherine Dawson said in a media release.

The survey was conducted between March 26 and 31, among 867 British Columbians drawn from an online panel.

The company states that "while statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points, nineteen times out of 20."

For more on this methodological issue, see this story.

Find Tyee election reporting team member and contributing editor Tom Barrett’s previous Tyee articles here. Find him on Twitter or email him here.

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