Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Boxing Day (week) Blues (or why I quit politics)


You may not know this about me, but years ago I was an elected official. When I was a student in high school, I ran for, and was elected to the York Region Board of Education. I served for two and a half terms, and then decided to leave and become a contributing member of society. Now, as an employer in Ontario, I'm finding that it is becoming increasingly more difficult not to take on the unpopular characteristics of "scrooge". Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to celebrations, family get-togethers, motherhood, apple pie and happiness. My beef has to do with superfluous statutory holidays like Boxing Day. What exactly is it that we are celebrating on Boxing Day?(Boxing Day was traditionally a day on which the servants had a day off from their duties. Because of this the gentry would eat cold cuts and have a buffet-style feast prepared by the servants in advance. In modern times many families will still follow this tradition by eating a family-style buffet lunch, with cold cuts rather than a fully-cooked meal. It is a time for family, parlour games and sports in the UK). In modern times, Boxing Day is a day when Christmas weary folks join mobs of fellow bargain hunters in search of the deal of the century at their favourite retail store. The fact that employers who open on Boxing Day are forced to pay employees double time and a half because it's a "statutory holiday", the cost of which ultimately has to be passed on to those same poor bargain hunters just seems kind of silly to me. In my case, each statutory holiday costs me about $12,000 in additional wages, and now, thanks to Dalton McTaxme, there are nine of them in the have not province of Ontario, the most recent being that great mid February holiday - Family Day. But, just when I thought Dalt was running out of ways to punish the tourism sector, he's come up with the Harmonized Sales Tax. For my business, this will mean a new and extra 8% tax on all spa treatments, along with a new and extra 3% tax on meals and accommodation. I estimate that just the credit card fees on these new taxes will cost us (and ultimately our customers), about $15,000 a year, not to mention the additional $400,000 it will generate in tax revenue. Maybe there should be a statutory holiday to celebrate this Dalton inspired tax grab/winfall?

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