B.C. families will spend about $15 per child more in annual school supplies because of the harmonized sales tax (HST), New Democrats warned yesterday.

School supplies, currently exempt under B.C.’s provincial sales tax, will be subject to HST when it takes effect next summer.

Lorrie Forseth, a single mother with two daughters, said the added expenses of school supplies, new clothes and haircuts will eat into her monthly food budget.

Forseth and her daughters were among about a dozen people that took part in an NDP-led protest outside a Staples store in Burnaby.

According to supply lists for a Victoria school, parents of a Grade 8 student would spend $246.36 on supplies, including $16.70 in HST.

“Anger is building,” said NDP Leader Carole James.

“It’s not simply anger at a tax that is going to make things more difficult ... it’s the fact that they weren’t honest with British Columbians.

“They didn’t tell people they were going to bring in this tax during the election campaign.”

New Democrats have collected almost 50,000 signatures on their petition to stop the HST.

The petition, James said, will be presented in the legislature in the hopes of pressuring the government to walk away from the tax.

James pointed to the failed privatization of the Coquihalla Highway as an example of the government changing its mind in the face of a strong public outcry.

When asked if an NDP-led government would scrap the HST, James refused to answer, saying that her job was “to stop it from coming in.”