This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Transit tax penalizes the poor.

This week’s topic: Is a 0.5% increase in the provincial sales tax a good way to fund transit improvements in Metro Vancouver?

Let’s face it, for most people tax is a four-letter word. Say it and people scowl as if you’ve said something offensive and inappropriate. However painful it is to hear, the truth is that taxes are a necessary evil. For every level of government, from municipal through to federal, taxes are vital revenue streams that help pay for the services and infrastructure we rely on.

Having said that, I don’t think an increase in the provincial sales tax within Metro Vancouver to fund transit improvements alone is the solution.

It’s been said that a no vote in this referendum will set back transit a decade and there is no other way to fund transit that is as fair as this proposal, yet a tax that penalizes those who can least afford it is anything but equitable.

It’s estimated to cost the average family approximately $125 a year, and the poorest families, $50.

Without a doubt, we need to get moving on transit in Metro Vancouver, but we are also facing some big challenges as a province. Highways and other infrastructure are in disrepair. Hospitals are overcrowded and understaffed. The list goes on, yet we keep hearing there is no money.

Read Brent Stafford’s column here.

I can’t help but feel it’s terribly short-sighted to approach the funding solution for transit on its own when the province is clearly in need of a solid revenue stream for all of these challenges.

While the premier often boasts about our low tax rates, the cost has been steep. What isn’t mentioned is that the series of cuts to both personal and corporate taxes since 2000 created a devastating hole in provincial revenues that has never been adequately replaced. We’ve been left with a regressive tax system that hurts the people who can least afford it – just like this sales tax increase…

READ the rest of this weeks column, comment and vote at


HERE is the link to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives paper on progressive tax solutions:

And here is the quick look at page 8 where a portion of the reforms are listed – many of these options could potentially provide enough revenue for transit improvement ( dedicated much like the portion of this sales tax revenue proposal) as well as bringing in additional revenue for things like healthcare and education,as well as restoring cuts to justice services programs etc.


16 thoughts on “This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Transit tax penalizes the poor.

  1. Rather difficult to vote at all in this poll. Both commenters assume not only that taxpayer-subsidized public transit is a good thing AND that it has to be expanded even more. How about a third option: user-pay funded public transit?


    1. I agree. The assumptions are wrong. Fundamentally so. I am reminded of the government’s and industry’s successful attempts to convince people to smoke and then cranking up the price as the years wore on. Then insulting those who were legally addicted by making them stand outside in the rain. As a non-smoker (always) I was not sympathetic until it became obvious that the addicted were just more enslaved by the system than was I. Transit is the same thing. Firstly, it only serves those who work like drones in offices. Secondly, the drone eventually becomes totally reliant. Thirdly, the drone is taxed for it to the point of it not being worth going to work (already the case for many). Here’s the shocker: NO ONE benefits by transit except corporations. The average worker has not seen a salary increase (in real terms) for over thirty years. Nor do they have more time – they have less. And the tax increases have been soul destroying. By ‘tax’, I mean those charges over which you have no choice (not the narrowly defined one offered up here) and that seems to now include transit- whether you use it or not!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know I sound a bit like a nut…(not the first time)…..but, think about it. When was the last time you turned to someone and said, “Hey! Let’s have some fun today and ride a bus or take the Sky-train!” Never? That’s because both are only designed to facilitate office/store workers going to work. So, now they have made it easier to go to work and work, work, work…fine. Getting better off are ya? No? Have more free time? More in debt (that’s what they are reporting)? Basically, it is all about further enslavement. So, who really benefits from people tubes that lead to downtown?
        Sorry about that Orwellian rant…I must be getting delusional.


  2. enough of all these “mini” taxes and fees. the province needs an equitable income tax system. The reduction of income taxes for corporations and individuals is what has benefitted those that have. Those that have little or nothing don’t gain anything. On the way to providing all these subsidies for corporations, the province became so impoverished Christy and Don McRae have taken to mining for “gold” in the pockets of children living at 50% below the poverty line. They need the $17M, well increase the corporate taxes 1% and same for those making over $100K. Its not going to affect their bottom line. it certainly will help the children eat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would rather see cuts to the executives & admin in Translink – bloated there.Transparency first? I may have missed it – I haven’t seen anything that ensures this ‘tax’ would ONLY go to what we are ‘led’ to believe – what kind assurance do we really have that it wouldn’t go to Bonus’ etc. I look at ICBC profits being scooped up by Gov’t rather than lowering rates for safe drivers (almost 40yrs here) & rates still rise. Question too vague for me to say – sure tax us – without BINDING assurances.


  4. Beachboxer made the best point. How about a forensic audit? This is not the first time that Translink has been given money to ‘fix’ the transit problems. How was all that money spent? Why are there so many administrative layers in Translink?

    I say don’t give them a nickel until they have been found truthful and responsible.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a great idea! Fund it out of the LNG Prosperity Fund.

    I know. I’ve been away for six months, and NO, I was NOT with Christy. I have no idea where she’s been.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Didn’t get much support for my earlier Orwellian rant but I will try again….transit is, at best, only a supplement to anyone’s transportation needs. No one can rely on transit for more than one pre-planned route. Usually work or school. Who rides transits with groceries, tools, building supplies or even for more than one stop? Face it, transit-as-a-solution is a professionally generated myth. It does not work. I.E. I had to go to Metchosin from Sidney. My smart-phone said: “38 minutes in normal traffic, 3 hours and 40 minutes by bus!” I am currently staying on the North shore and travel to Richmond. Driving time is ridiculous and transit time is simply impossible. People balk at paying for a solution that doesn’t work and rightly so. Final point – look at London, New York even Toronto. Traffic is gridlocked despite mature transit systems. Why? BECAUSE transit does NOT work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thus far in my life, every city I’ve visited that has fabulous transit…still has traffic jams at certain if not many hours of the day.You are bang on that accessibility to transit doesn’t guarantee forgoing a vehicle.Many people will never choose to take transit, and I know people who have relied on it for years, but after being able to afford a vehicle, would never set foot on transit again even though it runs right outside their door 🙂


      1. The reason the fab-transit cities are still clogged with vehicular traffic is because fab-transit does not do the job. I think it all requires a radical re-think across the board. Tax incented or even govt. subsidized dinky-car purchases to reduce space, pollution and traffic (i.e. minis, Fiats and Smart cars) and reduced access times (after midnight and before 8:00 am) for heavy trucks (like Germany), free short-ride buses (to encourage downtown use), free monthly limited use transit cards (to encourage SOME use) and share-a-ride bus-stops so that people can pay a buck-for-gas to get a ride down Broadway or wherever but have the security of a camera-recorded pick-up…that kind of thing. We already HAVE the roads…so why try to replace them? Just use ’em better. We are literally trying to re-invent the wheel. The MTR in Hong Kong works best of all the cities but HK is a very small area and the people are very law-abiding and orderly (harmony in the society is valued there. Surrey? Not so much). Plus we have a HUGE area to cover by comparison. I don’t drive a 4X4 for fun, I NEED the traction when off road and in the snow and when carrying tools and construction materials. People don’t need to do that in London. We are different and need a made-in-BC solution. First step, everyone engaged in planning and managing public transit has to use it!

        Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.