Employer Health Tax Hot Topic
The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says they sent a rep to ensured that its members and a strong economy were a priority during a meeting with high-level provincial officials this week.
Representatives from 11 Thompson-Okanagan chambers of commerce participated in a regional consultation with senior provincial civil servants from 12 government ministries.
"This was a tremendous opportunity to provide the Interior perspective on several critical matters that impact the ability to do business in our region, while we were also able to understand the government process better," said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce vice-president, who attended the day-long session in Kelowna.
"Most importantly, though, we were able to establish personal relationships with individuals responsible for developing and implementing policy in B.C. There is nothing like meeting a person face-to-face and establishing common ground."
Among the issues discussed during the roundtable was the Employer Health Tax.
"We have heard from our members that the Employer Health Tax is negatively impacting private sector businesses and non-profits with payrolls of more than $500,000 annually. By reducing already limited revenue margins, the tax means employers may not be able to provide valued staff with salary increases or they may have to hike fees or reduce staff," said Kempton.
"We appreciate that the government representatives will consider chamber recommendations as part of the 2020 provincial budget, and we recommend that the Employers Health Tax either be eliminated or amended to minimize the impact on business."
Other issues discussed include the need to provide flexibility on when development cost charges are paid to municipalities to reduce cash flow burdens on developers, evaluating property tax assessments on wineries, cideries and distilleries to support expansion and agri-tourism, encouraging collaboration of federal and provincial governments with service providers to help with successful reintegration of prolific offenders into the community, and pursuing innovative programs to address the family physician shortage.
"No promises were made by the government officials to act on any of the chamber recommendations, but I found them to be open to our suggestions and to be interested in a strong and vibrant economy. I am hopeful that this session was just the first step in meaningful dialogue between Okanagan chambers and the government," said Kempton.