Recently announced government tariff cuts on sports equipment will not cover hockey helmets, according to the NDP consumer critic – and in fact, the cost could rise as the government increases tariffs in some country.
Writing on Facebook on Thursday, Glenn Thibeault says he made the discovery while researching the so-called iPod tax, an expected increase in the cost of iPods due to tariff increases planned for 2015 for countries that produce and export the devices.
Hockey helmets are imported into the “protective helmet, athletic” category, which is a separate category from that of other hockey equipment.
Thibeault says there is no change in the 2013 federal budget for the customs tariff chapter that applies to helmets, “so this means that protective sports helmets will continue to be billed for nationally. most favored 8.5 [per cent] rate.”
“So apparently the Conservatives want to let you play hockey for less, but they have no interest in making it cheaper to protect Canadians from concussions!” He said on Facebook.
The budget announced the elimination of tariffs for cricket, golf, hockey and a handful of other types of sports equipment. Hockey equipment specifically mentioned in a list distributed by the government when the budget was tabled includes sticks, skates and protective gear for the elbows, shoulders, waist, thighs and hips.
A spokeswoman for the finance ministry said the elimination of tariffs on baby clothes and some sports equipment was a test case.
“However, the list is not exhaustive and does not include all the pieces of equipment produced in the world today, including hockey helmets,” Stephanie Rubec said in an email to CBC News.
“The government fully expects this first test case to translate into significant savings for Canadian families and is working with consumers, retailers and manufacturers to monitor prices and ensure consumers benefit from these reductions. tariffs. Eliminating these tariffs will allow the government to assess whether eliminating tariffs can help reduce the price differential for consumers in Canada and will help guide future decisions. “
The tariff cut went into effect on April 1 and if retailers passed the cuts on to consumers, they would save $ 76 million a year, according to the federal budget.
It is estimated that tariff increases cost consumers $ 330 million per year.
For those who buy helmets made in China, Thailand, or any of the 72 other countries that will see their prices rise in 2015, the cost of helmets is likely to rise.
The government will remove these countries from a list of less developed countries subject to preferential or lower tariffs in order to encourage trade.
Some of the countries removed from the list are emerging economies, such as Brazil and South Korea.
‘Smoke and mirrors’
Thibeault said the tariff changes should have been better thought out.
“We make it more expensive for iPods, we make it more expensive for baby carriers, we make it more expensive for headphones. But it’s cheaper to buy a pair of earpads and the conservatives don’t. really looked at how it will affect Canadians, ”he said in an interview.
“It was a lot of smoke and mirrors when it really hits the Canadians in the wallet every day.”
Mike Moffatt, assistant professor of business, economics and public policy at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University in London, was the first person to publicize the price increases for iPods. He suspects the government did not realize the increase would affect iPods until he reported it.
“This whole exercise has shown how outdated this tariff code is and how many changes really need to be made,” Moffatt said.
“No one has given a coherent argument as to why we need a 13% tariff on bikes. The government has said we need to treat China the same as we treat Japan. , okay, but why is Japan facing a 13% tariff on bikes? “
Rubec said the reason for the tariff change is to update a system designed “to help poorer developing countries.” She denies that the change increases tariffs.
“A way to increase income”
Moffatt suggests the government has found a way to increase revenue that is so complex that consumers won’t know why the prices have gone up.
“The government seems to be really trying to find areas where [they can] increase the income of a lot of different domains by a small amount… they just take a dime here, a dime there and hope it all adds up, ”he said.
“[They say] it’s about treating countries fairly, whereas if they just said we’re going to raise the GST by one point or that we’re going to raise corporate income tax or whatever, what the government is really doing would be obvious. But here they find a way to increase income that’s so incredibly complicated that they have this kind of story about, well, they don’t raise taxes at all. “
Questions over tariff increases played a major role in opposition attacks on the government this week. Both the NDP and the Liberals are focusing on middle class families as they fight for votes in the political center.
Retailers are expected to pass the cost of tariffs on to consumers.
On Tuesday, MPs rejected an NDP motion urging the House to condemn the new taxes.
Thibeault also presented a motion to the House industry committee requesting a study on the effect of tariff increases.
Thibeault is also advocating a national sports injury surveillance strategy to monitor concussions, including guidelines and measures to ensure athletes do not return to play until they are medically ready, his website says.