According to a recent release from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), the budget handed down by the government of British Columbia has the province’s restaurant and foodservice industry worried about the potentially negative impact that a new 12 per cent harmonized sales tax (HST) will have on sales.
“As it stands, there is nothing in this budget to offset the significant negative impacts of the HST on the restaurant industry. Even finance minister Hansen recognizes that the restaurant industry will be hurt by the HST,” says Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the CRFA. “We are encouraged that the government has publicly stated that it is open to working with us to mitigate the impacts.”
Currently, the CRFA estimates that the new 12 per cent HST will cause more than a seven per cent drop in restaurant sales. “The HST will deliver a huge hit to restaurant operators.” The government is plucking $750 million from the restaurant industry and it needs to find a way to give it back,” says Whyte. The HST adds up to “three strikes against the restaurant industry,” he says. “It’s going to eat into our sales, most of our costs aren’t eligible for input tax credits, and there’s a five-year delay in the tax credits for business meals.”
B.C.’s restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the top private-sector employers in the province, with 173,000 direct jobs, representing 7.5 per cent of the provincial workforce.