No surprise - British Columbians do not want a new meal tax

Survey demonstrates strong opposition to HST being implemented in restaurants

VANCOUVER, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - With consumers' wallets already in a pinch, paying more to dine out as a result of the proposed HST tax increase is leaving a bad taste in British Columbians' mouths. Findings from a recent survey commissioned by the B.C. restaurant and foodservice industry show that 64 per cent of B.C. consumers favour exempting food in restaurants from a new meal tax.

"Consumers' wallets will take a major hit if the federal and provincial governments move forward with implementing an additional seven per cent tax on food served at restaurants, despite the strong opposition by British Columbians," said Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President Western Canada of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). "Everything from morning coffee to lunch at the university or office cafeteria to pizza dinner with the kids will cost consumers more. This survey underscores that it is not just industry that opposes HST, but that consumers agree with much of what we have argued for months."

The restaurant and foodservice industry has strong ties to residents and communities throughout B.C. More than half of survey respondents reported that they visit a quick-service restaurant once a week and a full-service restaurant at least several times a month. In addition, more than a quarter of all respondents have a direct connection to the industry: 17 per cent either work or have an immediate family member who works in the industry and six per cent are in a household that works in an organization that depends significantly on the restaurant industry.

"The B.C. restaurant and foodservice industry employs 173,000 people, so it's not surprising that British Columbians are worried about how HST will affect them directly," said Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA). "With so many jobs at stake, consumers are beginning to realize the domino effect that HST would have on the economy and the $10 billion restaurant industry. The negative effects of a new meal tax would reverberate throughout the province as the impact on our sector will have a cascading effect on everyone from suppliers and vendors to their employees and to farmers."

    
    Other findings from the survey indicate that:
    -  67 per cent are less likely to support a new meal tax to be applied
       to restaurants and coffee shops when told that the "HST will raise
       more money from consumers to give tax breaks to business and there
       won't be more money for health or social programs."
    -  64 per cent are less likely to support a new meal tax when told that
       "prepared food sold in grocery stores, such as frozen pizza, won't be
       taxed while pizza made by local workers in a local pizzeria will be
       taxed."
    -  59 per cent are less likely to support a new meal tax when told that
       "there are 173,000 jobs in B.C. coffee shops and restaurants at
       stake."
    

The survey also shows that there is resentment amongst B.C. consumers towards the federal and provincial governments for their HST implementation plans. Tied with Olympic spending, respondents identified HST as the most critical issue that concerns British Columbians the most about the provincial government's performance. Thirty-five per cent of respondents were aware that HST is an initiative that is being driven by the federal Conservative government. However, when informed that the federal government offered the provincial government a $1.6 billion incentive to endorse the initiative, 54 per cent of respondents indicated they had a less favourable impression of the federal Conservatives.

"We are not asking for any government handouts or a bailout, we simply want food tax fairness for B.C. consumers and those working in the restaurant and foodservices industry," said von Schellwitz. "B.C. consumers shouldn't be discriminated against and taxed for choosing to dine out rather than prepare a meal at home. A solution that protects B.C. consumers' interest is what is most important to us and that won't happen without the cooperation of the federal and provincial governments."

The results were drawn from a telephone survey, which was conducted among 604 B.C. residents in the evenings between November 14 and November 19, 2009. A sample of this size is considered accurate to an estimated margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association:

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with 33,000 members representing independent and chain restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers, including more than 4,000 British Columbia-based members. CRFA's mission is to create an environment to help members in every community grow and prosper. Canada's $60-billion foodservice industry employs more than one million people in communities across the country.

About the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association:

With more than 25 years of leadership, the BCRFA is the foremost advocate and resource for the restaurant and foodservices industry, ensuring long-term dynamic growth within B.C. The Association is a representative body of restaurateurs, foodservice retailers, suppliers and educators. It works to enhance the image and integrity of the industry through positive communications, education and promotion of operating standards that encourage excellence.

SOURCE Restaurants Canada

For further information: For further information: Yvonne Yuen, Wilcox Group, (604) 488-1100, yyuen@wilcoxgroup.com; Greg Lyle, Managing Director of Innovative Research will also be available to discuss survey details


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