Million Dollar Tax on Students unfair, must be reversed: McCurdy

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy says the Liberal Book Tax, which came into effect January 1, making this province the only one in the country to tax book sales, is unfairly targeting a group of people who can least afford to pay it.

The tax is expected to raise $2 million for a government cash-strapped by a massive hydro project. McCurdy says half of that tax – more than a million dollars – will come from post-secondary students who are often required to purchase expensive textbooks.

“This is the worst kind of regressive tax,” McCurdy said today at Memorial University’s St. John’s campus, where he was taking part in an event organized by MUN NDP to oppose the tax. “It targets students who are working hard to get education which will allow them to contribute in many ways to this province.

“Government must reverse this harmful decision.”

There are about 12,000 full-time undergraduate students at Memorial University. A full-time student is one who is taking at least three courses. MUN advises students to budget $150 to $200 per course for books and supplies. Even allowing just the minimum 3 courses per student, and the minimum $150 per course, says McCurdy, the tax would total almost $1.1 million for a year of studies.

“And that doesn’t include part-time students, graduate students and all the post-secondary students at other institutions, including College of the North Atlantic, where there are thousands more.”

This is Family Literacy Week in Canada; McCurdy noted the irony. “This government says literacy is a priority,” he said. “But its actions say something quite different. First the Liberals tried to close half the province’s libraries. Now the attack on literacy continues with a regressive tax, half of which will be paid by post-secondary students.”

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