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HST cost B.C. restaurants $1.5-billion, industry group says

A bleu cheese and beef brisket sandwich is prepared at Pig BBQ Joint in Victoria. Restaurants and other businesses in B.C. went back to charging PST instead of HST as of April 1, 2013.

Arnold Lim/The Globe and Mail

The provincial sales tax is back in force in British Columbia, after the harmonized sales tax was wiped out overnight, and the province's restaurant sector is delighted to return to its lower-tax status.

The western vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association says the combined 12 per cent tax was tough on the bottom line of an already-suffering industry.

Mark von Schellwitz says restaurant business in B.C. grew just 1.4 per cent since the HST was imposed three years ago, while the rest of Canada grew more than 11 per cent in the same period.

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Von Schellwitz estimates the tax cost B.C. eateries $1.5-billion in lost sales.

He says with the levy gone, the province's restaurant industry is projected to grow 5.1 per cent in 2013.

Restaurant patrons in B.C. will still have to pay the 5 per cent goods and services tax.

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