B.C. restaurateurs want to be able to buy booze at wholesale rates and keep minimum wages frozen as potential ways to sweeten the taste of the forthcoming Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).
The HST, which will be implemented July 1, 2010, will increase the cost of a restaurant meal by seven per cent.
“It’s really going to hurt us,” said Garth Whyte, president and CEO of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), following a meeting yesterday with Finance Minister Colin Hansen.
Whyte said he is opposed to the HST, but is resigned to its implementation, calling it a “steamroller” that is moving across the country.
Hansen was unavailable for comment yesterday, but a spokesperson for his ministry said the meeting “went well.”
The CRFA suggested a number of ideas that could help mitigate the tax, including allowing restaurants to buy alcohol at wholesale rates, similar to what occurs in Alberta.
The province could also assist restaurants with energy costs through rebates, as restaurants consume five times more energy than the average retailer.
Over the long term, Whyte said he’d like to see a commitment from the government to not raise the minimum wage.
“Let’s have a real holistic view on growing and helping this dynamic sector, not hurting it,” Whyte said.