By Marci Becking
THUNDER BAY – Judy Currie, citizen of Whitesand First Nation, living in the greater Thunder Bay area, says that she’s fed up with having to send in her bills to the Ministry of Revenue to get the PST refund from Tbaytel.
“I have showed my Status Card at the Tbaytel store several times,” says Currie who is trying to get the company to take the PST portion of the HST off her phone bill. “They promised to apply the exemption, but it never comes off. I now have become accustomed to saving all my receipts and bills.
Currie sends her receipts into the Ministry of Revenue every six months. She’s noticed that it’s taking longer for the Ontario government to get the refund back to her.
“It now takes up to three months to get the PST refund,” says Currie.
Since September 2010, new legislation had telecommunications PST exempt for off-reserve Ontario residents who hold Status Cards. Bell, Cogeco, Rogers and Eastlink all have systems in place to make it easier for the customer to get the PST exemption right off their bill. Tbaytel does not.
According to Tbaytel customer service agent “Jason”, customers who have Status Cards have to photocopy their Status Card (front and back), Fax to 1-807-622-1900 and clearly state the Tbaytel account number. [During the conversation with Jason, I had to correct him three times when he said that people had to have proof that they live on reserve.]
In fact, any Status Indian living off reserve is entitled to the PST exemption from their telecommunications bill. If you live on reserve, one would receive the entire HST exemption.
Tbaytel says that if you go into their retail stores, they will honour the PST exemption. Customers like Judy Currie are still waiting for that to happen.
Policy Analyst for the Union of Ontario Indians, Kevin Restoule, says that there are other options for customers out there now, like the on-reserve telecommunications company FirstTel located on Wikwemkoong Unceded Territory.
“If you live in an area where you are able to make a choice in your phone, internet, cable or satellite provider, perhaps you can choose one who is willing to help you get the PST exemption,” says Restoule.
For more information on PST exemption in Ontario, visit www.anishinabek.ca/notax