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B.C. businesses will shoulder $6.5B due to government taxes, programs: report


A new report released by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Wednesday suggests B.C. businesses will shoulder $6.5 billion in additional costs due to government taxes and other programs.

The report, titled “Counting the Costs,” shows that between 2022 and 2024, health taxes, corporate taxes, health taxes, paid sick leave and the carbon tax will add on billions in direct costs. It also highlights the impact of a rise in minimum wage, the top personal tax rate and a new statutory holiday.

At The Ruby on Johnson in Victoria, business is OK. Chris Jones, the restaurant's owner, worries about increasing costs.

"Rising cost of goods, rising cost of labour, (there are) a lot of the things the government has implemented but we are paying for," Jones explained.

In a statement, the organization said growth, entrepreneurship and investment is being impeded as a result. 

The breakdown of costs between 2022 and 2024 is as follows:

  • Net health taxes: $4,001,000,000
  • Corporate income tax: $1,607,000,000
  • Paid sick leave: $1,200,000,000
  • Business share of carbon tax: $515,000,000
  • Savings (SME tax rate & PST on non-residential electricity: $873,000,000
  • Total additional costs: $6,450,000,000

Jones called the number surprising.

"I think $6.5 billion is a scary number because we're already in more or less a break-even environment, a lot of small businesses are right now," he said.

For Bridgitte Anderson, the president and CEO of the GVBOT, it is a call to action.

"Now is the time to take action to ensure we're supporting the growth of businesses in our province." she told CTV News.

According to the government, in 2021, 98 per cent of all B.C. businesses were small enterprises. 

In the face of what GVBOT calls a challenging environment, it is making the following recommendations.

  • Allow small and medium businesses to earn more, before they have to pay the Employer Health Tax
  • Introduce PST exemptions for things like software and equipment
  • Recycle carbon-tax revenues into local tech and emissions-reduction efforts
  • Actively seek opportunities to reduce costs for small and medium enterprises

"It's like death by 1,000 cuts and businesses are saying we simply can't afford to continue in this way," added Anderson.

Both Jones and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade say they'd like to see targeted measures for small and medium businesses. The premier seems to agree, but is talking about even more specific measures.

At an unrelated event, David Eby was asked about what measures may be on the way.

"We are working with, for example, with business improvement associations to support those businesses in the downtown core that are seeing decreased foot traffic. They're seeing increased issues around mental health and addiction that we're tackling as the government, but we know they need extra support," added Eby.

Jones said he'd like supports a bit broader and focused on reducing costs.

"Everyone is nervous. I do think good, sharp operators will survive, but when you look around our cities, you're seeing a lot of 'for lease' signs now," said Jones.

The report comes as several economists report an economic downturn in the country is likely. Top Stories

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