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Posted: February 22, 2019

Storm clouds looming: BC Chamber

The provincial budget released on Feb. 18 tackles affordability head on but the cost in doing that means storm clouds on the horizon for small and medium sized businesses in British Columbia, the BC Chamber of Commerce stated Feb. 19.

“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 B.C.’s economy,” said Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Beyond a number of limited tax enhancements, we didn’t see anything today that will materially help B.C.’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) compete in the years ahead—and our data shows there are storm clouds looming.”

Litwin noted there will be $5 billion in cumulative cost increases over the next three years, as per the budget.

The BC Chamber’s recent 2018-19 Collective Perspective Report revealed 80% of B.C. businesses feel the cost of doing business in B.C. has worsened in the last year, and one in two owner-operators report their confidence in B.C.’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 said.

Overall, the budget could have said more on how B.C.’s business community—especially SMEs—will compete in the years to come.  Though welcome, even the $800 million in the budget for ‘business-capital cost allowances on capital investments’, is a result of federal tax changes, not any new program being rolled out provincially, the BC Chamber pointed out.

Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce and Kimberley & District Chamber of Commerce members learned more about the budget from three BC Chamber directors Feb. 20, in separate presentations.

“The release of the 2019 B.C. Budget coincided nicely with the arrival of BC Chamber representatives in Kimberley. Along with the member benefits presentation we had scheduled, our chamber was able to hear about the BC Chamber’s thoughts and direction regarding the new budget,” stated Kimberley chamber President Rachelle Langlois.

“We are pleased with the support the BC Chamber is showing towards small and medium sized business owners who are the economic drivers in our small communities. We were also encouraged by the participation of the Kimberley business community members, as having a strong chamber will ensure we have the voice necessary to continue to have the ear of these influential policy makers.

“Gathering feedback from the business community is one of our primary goals in the next few months, along with increasing our chamber membership. We want to hear from our businesses to ensure our chamber is effectively representing their needs, not just on a local or community level, but also at regional and provincial levels as well since this budget will directly impact our members,” Langlois said.

Lead image: Dan Baxter, Director of Policy Development, Government and Stakeholder Relations with the BC Chamber, addresses Kimberley chamber members Feb. 20. Kimberley & District Chamber of Commerce photo


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