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Haida Gwaii residents continue to call for greater tax deduction

Recent report lists Daajing Giids as one of the most expensive places in B.C. for a family to live
A map depicting the two zones for the northern residents’ tax deductions. The pink shaded area depicts communities included in the full northern zone and the blue shaded area depicts the communities classified in the intermediate zone, who receive half the benefits as the full. (Photo: supplied)

New life has been blown into Haida Gwaii residents’ call to reinstate the full northern residents’ tax deduction following a report showing that Daajing Giids is one of the most expensive places in B.C. for a family of four to live.

The living wage in the village on the southern tip of Graham Island was $25.87. This represents the highest in B.C. out of the 22 communities that participated in a survey run by Living Wage for Families.

Village staff presented the results to council during a meeting on Nov. 21.

“It seems like this would be a really effective or compelling tool to present to the members of the national parliament to have reconsideration of the [northern residents deductions] for all of us here because when we compare our cost of living in a document like this, clearly showing our costs, it would be difficult to sweep away,” Councillor Alanah Mountifield commented.

Residents of Haida Gwaii received the full tax deduction until the 1990s when the government changed the criteria and reduced Haida Gwaii to an “intermediate northern” community which decreased the benefit by half.

People living in the full northern region can claim $11 a day and whereas those in the intermediate region can only claim $5.50 per day.

In addition to the benefits of living costs, there are also travel cost tax deductions for people living in remote, northern communities. However, once again, those zones designated “intermediate”, like Haida Gwaii, only get half the benefit of those in the full “northern” zones.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons (HOC) to amend the Income Tax Act and reconsider the line that designates which communities are considered northern and which are considered intermediate. The bill did not proceed to a second reading.

Bachrach also presented a petition to the HOC on June 1, 2021, once again urging the government to amend the Income Tax Act and restore full northern status to the residents of Haida Gwaii.

“I have tabled a petition in the house, tabled the private members’ motion then a private members’ bill, and I continue to look for opportunities to make the government aware of this,” Bachrach said.

“I am aware that there are a whole host of other communities across the country that also feel the current formula is unfair and that’s why in my motion I brought forward urging the government to take another look at the formula itself and how it defines remoteness. Currently, the deduction is based almost solely on latitude and we know of many examples of remote communities that fall south of the line where their cost of living is far above the rest of Canada.”

Bachrach acknowledged that the cost of living on Haida Gwaii is much higher than in other parts of the province and said that is why it is so important to continue to push to reinstate the full tax deduction.

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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