OUR VIEW: Not everyone can afford to vote ‘yes’ to TransLink tax

Roughly 70 years ago, during the Great Depression, Roosevelt signed off on the United States Gold Reserve Act which ordered U.S. citizens to surrender all their gold and gold certificates to the government.

While we’re not quite yet there today – after all, we’re facing a plebiscite and not a government order being foisted on us this spring on the region’s transportation needs – it’s hardly an ideal time, at least for the "Yes" side, to have a referendum vote on whether to pay more tax to fund a 10-year multibillion-dollar plan for Metro Vancouver.

The Canadian Tax Federation notes we’ll be forking out more of our increasingly scarce household cash to all three levels of government in 2015. Medical Service Premiums, BC Hydro rates, ICBC, Employment Insurance, and Canada Pension Plan premiums are all going up, as are B.C. Ferry rates.

Late last year, total Canadian household debt, including mortgages, rose to 162.6 per cent of disposable income and the average Canadian adult’s personal consumer debt, not including mortgages, rose to a whopping $28,853.

The ratings agency Fitch has described Canadian levels of consumer debt "unsustainable."

This past Friday, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was named vice-chairwoman of the TransLink mayors’ council and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was voted its chairman. Both are expected to lobby with vigor for a "Yes" result in the plebiscite calling for a new 0.5 per cent regional sales tax to fund all these transportation plans.

As Hepner notes, Surrey needs light rail, better bus service and other improvements to fight gridlock. Sure. But people also need food and shelter. And for most of us, our wages have not seen any slightly substantial increase in years.

Robertson and Hepner will not be feeling the pinch so much, however, as they will reportedly be paid an extra $50,000 each for their new positions on the mayors’ council.

It’s easier to vote "Yes" when you can afford it.

The Now