Cutting the cost of Provincial Sales Tax on electricity to large industry and business is a good move on the BC Liberal government’s part. The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon as Christy Clark’s government released its feel-good, pre-election budget.
The PST will be cut in half, to 3.5 per cent, this year, and completely eliminated on April 1, 2019.
British Columbia is apparently the only province in Canada that charges a sales tax on electricity for such businesses, and for a company like Catalyst Paper, that eats up about 30 per cent of their costs.
The move comes as good news to the pulp and paper industry, and that means it will be good for communities like Port Alberni that rely heavily on the forestry industry.
The forest industry in B.C. is closely integrated. The pulp and paper and solid wood sectors help keep one another viable. This practice is visible in Port Alberni: sawmills like APD and Somass sell wood chips and hog fuel to Catalyst Paper, providing the mills with needed revenue and an energy source to the paper mill.
Mayors in eight B.C. municipalities including the Alberni Valley called on the provincial government last month to exempt electricity purchased by industry and business from the PST, to help protect forestry jobs. This week they are celebrating the budget decision.
As the mayors pointed out, supporting the forest sector in any manner is vital in this time of uncertainty due to the Softwood Lumber Agreement coming due, as well as talk about renegotiating trade deals coming from south of the 49th parallel.