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Re-thinking the book tax

Gazette student columnist says literacy taking major hit

Student Life | Student View

By Brittany Taylor

Back in April of 2016 the dreaded book tax was introduced into our province.

The introduction of this tax makes Newfoundland and Labrador the first Canadian province to have its own tax on books.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador added a tax of 10 per cent onto the pre-existing five per cent federal GST. The introduction of this tax has not gone over well in our province; it has received a lot of backlash and has raised a number of concerns.

Not only does it put local publishing companies at a competitive disadvantage to other Canadian publishers — it is also having a negative impact on the literacy rates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Importance of literature in 2017

Cellphones, tablets and social media are a huge part of our daily lives.

We have the ability to access the Internet anytime, anywhere. In a society where technology dominates, literature is quickly getting left behind.

“Literature is extremely important for both educational purposes and for overall mental well-being.”

Our government should be trying to ensure this doesn’t happen. Literature is extremely important for both educational purposes and for overall mental well-being. It should be encouraging the use of literature and making it more accessible to everyone.

Instead, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has made it more difficult for people to purchase books, affecting the success of local book stores.

Book tax = stress

The book tax is also having a tremendous impact on students.

Books for university students certainly do not come cheap. Books vary in price, but a book for just one course tends to fall at around $100-$150.

Students already have enough expenses as it is. In order for the majority of students to be able to afford to attend university, they are forced to balance school and a job, which usually only pays minimum wage.

By adding an additional 10 per cent tax onto our textbooks, it makes attaining these books much more difficult and creates additional stress and work for the already stressed-out, overworked, university student.

International attention

The book tax has recently received negative international attention, as well.

“The policy should be re-evaluated by our government.”

Ben Steward from the International Publishers Association encouraged the provincial government to “go back to the drawing board and re-examine this policy.” I certainly agree with Mr. Steward.

The policy should be re-evaluated by our government, as it is clear it is doing much more damage than good.

Re-evaluation of the policy

The book tax is having a negative impact on local bookstores, publishing companies, families, educators and cash-strapped students.

It is also going to have a negative repercussion on Newfoundland and Labrador’s already relatively low, literacy rates.

Literature should be promoted and encouraged — not discouraged and difficult to attain.


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