Beginning July 1, 2010, Ontario will become the fifth province to unify GST and PST into one 13 percent entity, known as Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). This means a huge increase in tax from purely 5% GST to 13% HST for many goods and services, including the services of massage therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals in Ontario.
It is the government’s response to a growing provincial deficit spurred by the economic downturn – a deficit expected to reach 58.6 billion over the next seven years. The plan is to boost the economy by spending 27.5 billion on roads, transit, schools, and hospitals, hopefully creating 300,000 new jobs over 2 years. It is designed to have a neutral effect on businesses, as they will receive tax credits. There is also a possibility of a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 14 to 10 percent to attract businesses to Ontario.
On the flip side, for healthcare practitioners and their patients, the costs of the new tax surely outweigh the benefits. The costs of services will increase significantly, forcing many patients to reduce or even terminate their treatments. This will have a direct impact on the health of many Ontarians, which will ultimately cost Ontario’s health care system in the long run. The tax will also obviously reduce business for the health practitioners themselves.
Fortunately, there is still one sliver of hope. Healthcare practitioners are creating an online petition to request that their services be exempt from the new HST. It will be sent to the Ontario Premier Dalton Mcguinty and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. Sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/ontario-hst-harms-patients-professionals.