HST stands for Harmonized Sales Tax which is the combination of Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) into one unified tax. On April 1, 1997 the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia implemented a 15% HST. Over the years the GST rates have fallen by 2%, which means these Atlantic provinces currently pay a 13% HST.
On July 1st, 2010 British Columbia and Ontario adopted an HST system at 12% and 13% respectively. Some reports have shown that implementing HST in the eastern provinces caused consumer prices to fall, and since the implementation of the HST in British Columbia and Ontario there have been negative effects. Opposition in British Columbia to the newly formed tax resulted in HST petitions which led to a provincial referendum. In August 2011, BC residents officially voted down the HST forcing the province to remove the controversial tax. The process of reversing the HST in BC is expected to take place by 2013. The province will also be expected to repay the $1.6 billion in transitional funds received from the federal government. Opposition to the HST in Ontario has since died down but issues surrounding the HST continue to arise regarding the issues of HST on heating bills and how it has effected lower-income families and individuals.