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No more GST for traditional Chinese medicine 0

By Ben Bulmer, 24 hours Vancouver

No tax on acupuncturists’ and naturopathic doctors’ visits has health practitioners pleased, but critics accuse the government of pandering to ethnic voters. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

No tax on acupuncturists’ and naturopathic doctors’ visits has health practitioners pleased, but critics accuse the government of pandering to ethnic voters. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Patients appreciate having a lower price tag … and I can use my staff more effectively. — Beverly Osachoff

The political motive behind changes to federal tax law exempting traditional Chinese medicine from GST is being derided as pandering to ethnic communities.

The new directive, which is part of the Conservative government’s economic action plan 2014, sees GST exempted from consultation fees of acupuncturists and naturopaths.

“It puts us on par with medical doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors,” said Lorne Brown, clinical director of the Acubalance Wellness Centre.

Brown said he supported the new exemption and didn’t think it would lead to an increase in patients, but praised its efforts to make health-care services more affordable for people.

Former BC NDP candidate and Chinese community advocate Gabriel Yiu supports the exemption, but questions the government’s motives in approving it.

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney publicized the announcement to the Chinese press, but didn’t release the news to mainstream English media until later on, according to Yiu.

“Jason Kenney has been quite well-known in terms of outreaching to the ethnic minority and I think this is part of the Conservative outreach strategy and plan,” said Yiu. “When the Conservatives is playing a hard-line approach in the mainstream (media) and then at the same time they (are) deliberately not publicizing TCM GST exemption it raises some interesting questions.”

Others wanted the exemption expanded.

“We’d certainly like to see it extended to massage therapy,” said Mark Bentz of the Electra Health Floor.

Beverly Osachoff, spokeswoman for the B.C. Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, said the exemption was good for both the consumer and traditional Chinese medicine businesses.

“I don’t believe it’s in anyone’s best interest to have to lose money to collect tax on behalf of the government,” said Osachoff.

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