Neutral party

The harmonized sales tax could increase costs for social service agencies, according to a December 2009 analysis prepared by the federation that represents their interests. But the federation's executive director said yesterday her group isn't "getting nasty about it." Instead, she's lobbying the province to increase the rebate level for those agencies from 57 percent to at least 75 percent so the tax is fiscally neutral for them.

"It is very concerning for us. It became even more troubling when we saw that the schools and the post-secondaries had been recognized and we were on the table yet," said Jennifer Charlesworth, referring to the 75 percent and 87 percent rebates those institutions received on January 14.

"We're not getting nasty about it," she continued. "We're just saying (to government), 'We think you need to do some more work...You're the pros. Let's get together. Let's talk through the scenarios - figure out what the right (rebate) level is."

The Federation of Community Social Services of BC met with Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak last week to discuss the issue. And, according Ms. Charlesworth, the minister told them "they're working on it."

But what happens if the federation's lobbying efforts don't succeed?

Well, Ms. Charlesworth said her group would then begin raising awareness of the issues that are "challenging and threatening the very viability of the community social service sector" with the harmonized sales tax being just one of them.

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