EDITORIAL: A price to pay for bargains

In increasing numbers, Canadian consumers are heading south for an overnight stay and shopping.

In increasing numbers, Canadian consumers are heading south for an overnight stay and shopping to take advantage of new cross-border allowances and the high dollar.

Cross-border trips in June, the first month the higher exemptions took effect, were up to levels not seen since 1972. Back then, the dollar was also above par, and gas prices were low.

It seems many are willing to spend the time in border line-ups and pay for the extra gas to save on a variety of items.

The downside is that local retailers take a hit, and when they do, they cut back on costs – such as new hires. And those much-hated taxes (which pay for health, education and other important programs) take a hit, as well.

Also, local business owners play major roles in sponsoring myriad local activities and initiatives, such as youth sports teams and charitable causes. As revenues decline, so does the ability of businesses to give back to the community.

Retailers in border communities like Abbotsford are particularly impacted.

Canadians are understandably looking for bargains. But there is a point when the lure of cheaper U.S. products comes back to haunt them.

A long-term decline in retail jobs and declining tax revenue can do major damage to the B.C. economy. Tax shortfalls must be made up somewhere, so that means everyone (including cross-border shoppers) will pay more.

The federal government encouraged this flow of dollars to the south, with the cross-border allowance changes.

Now it’s incumbent upon the same government to address factors such as high import tariffs that impede the competitiveness of many Canadian business.