News Release: BC Chamber responds to the 2019 Budget
Affordability strategy welcome, but costs to SMEs piling up
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Victoria, February 19, 2018 – Today’s balanced provincial budget tackles affordability head on, with continued investments in housing and the Enhanced Child Opportunity Benefit—but small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are still left wondering how they will overcome $5 billion in cumulative cost increases over the next three years.
“A new Employers’ Health Tax, an increasing carbon tax, a rising minimum wage, climbing corporate tax rates – these costs are weighing down the backbone of BC’s economy,” says Val Litwin, President & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Beyond a number of limited tax enhancements, we didn’t see anything today that will materially help BC’s SMEs compete in the years ahead—and our data shows there are storm clouds looming”.
The BC Chamber’s recent 2018-19 Collective Perspective Report revealed 80% of BC businesses feel the cost of doing business in BC has worsened in the last year, and one in two owner-operators report their confidence in BC’s economy has declined in the last 12 months.
“The Provincial Government is keying in on many of the right issues regarding housing and childcare—but we need to remember it’s a thriving business community that funds these investments— and domestically, our businesses are facing increasing cost pressures. We need to ask ourselves, are these investments sustainable in an increasingly uncertain global economy?” Litwin says.
Helpful investments clustered around BC’s new Clean BC Plan include: $10M in incentives for medium-and heavy-duty vehicle conversion, $6M for light-duty fleets to adopt zero-emission vehicles, and $168M over three years for industrial operations to reduce GHG emissions, which will help make BC’s liquefied natural gas industry the cleanest in the world. Additionally, a number of enhancements to the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit Program will help new start ups get funding and achieve commercialization faster.
“One policy win for our members today was the 'Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit' becoming permanent,” says Litwin. "Our members in Northwest and North central BC will also be encouraged to see $100M earmarked to help address infrastructure needs for the 26 local governments along the LNG corridor."
Overall, today’s budget could have said more on how BC’s business community—especially SMEs—will compete in the years to come. Though welcome, even the $800 million in today’s budget for 'business-capital cost allowances on capital investments', is a result of federal tax changes, not any new program being rolled out provincially.
About BC Chamber of Commerce
The BC Chamber is the province’s largest and most broadly-based business organization driving insights to its partners, government and Chamber network. With 36,000 members hailing from every nook and cranny of the province, the BC Chamber knows what’s on BC’s mind.