The damage is done

I am pleased to hear that MLA John Slater is calling for changes to the province’s tougher driving and drinking standards, but it may very well be too late to impact the possibility of recovering lost taxes and reverse the social impact of the .05 “fees”. I find most people are creatures of habit and it may be hard for locals to return to their old haunts, even for a couple of afternoon/after work drinks.

I am pleased to hear that MLA John Slater is calling for changes to the province’s tougher driving and drinking standards, but it may very well be too late to impact the possibility of recovering lost taxes and reverse the social impact of the .05 “fees”. I find most people are creatures of habit and it may be hard for locals to return to their old haunts, even for a couple of afternoon/after work drinks.

I note a number of MLAs have now realized the damage done by these disguised fines, which are not consistent with punishments in other provinces under the Criminal Code. Hopefully, we can at least salvage the tourist trade.

Bar sales during the period from 3-6:30 p.m. have dropped 30-50 per cent and some businesses have already closed. Service clubs are on the brink. I wonder how much tax has been lost because of the reduced sales. Tens of millions? At least.

The argument that some of the reduced sales was caused by the HST is a non-starter. HST on a drink is 12 per cent. Previously there was 10 per cent PST plus five per cent GST, for a total tax of 15 per cent. If bars/pubs have passed on the savings, drinks are now 3 per cent cheaper than before the HST.

I hate to believe that our politicians could foresee the negative social impact of these .05 BAC “fees,” and the substantial loss of tax revenue to the province. On the other hand I hate to believe they were stupid enough not to foresee the impact. I am unaware of any Liberal MLA that publicly opposed this legislation.

Either way, I hope our politicians have reasonable plans as to how to replace those lost taxes and redress the angst caused to citizens and businesses but, given past performance, I shudder at their remedies.

Patrick MacDonald

Penticton