Greater Vernon Chamber Responds to Provincial Budget

VCoC

On February 18, Finance Minister Carole James tabled the government’s financial plan in the Legislature in Victoria.

“There was absolutely nothing meaningful in the budget for entrepreneurs, and particularly for the small and medium-sized businesses that are the backbone of the North Okanagan’s economy,” said Dione Chamber, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.

“Business owners are struggling to pay the bills, keep staff employed and raise their families as a result of the cumulative cost of doing business.”

Since 2017, B.C. businesses have seen:

• The corporate tax rate holding steady at 12 per cent (up from 11 per cent)

• The carbon tax increasing $5 per tonne per year, on its way to $50 per tonne by 2021.

• The Employers’ Health Tax rising to $1.9 billion in 2020/21 and increasing to more than $2 billion by 2022/23.

“Business owners understand that they must pay taxes and do their part to ensure important social programs, but the government has business unfairly footing the bill and that means business owners may not be able to invest in equipment upgrades, facility expansions or hiring additional staff,” said Chambers.

As part of the 2020 budget, there is $13 million to develop opportunities within the bio-economy and to revitalize the forest sector.

“Greater Vernon, like many other communities, has been negatively impacted by the downturn in the forest sector and what forest companies need is a reduction in financial and regulatory pressures that permit them to operate and get our family members and neighbours back to work,” said Chambers.

Budget 2020 also provides an additional $71 million to enhance public safety and support services for people affected by crime. This includes $13 million for the Crime Victims Assistance Program to help victims and their families cope with the effects of violent crime.

“Ensuring the victims of violent crime can overcome trauma is fundamental, but we hope some of this funding will allow communities to be more resilient and to provide local government, law enforcement and businesses with the resources needed to reduce crime and unacceptable behaviour,” said Chambers.

“Our Chamber of Commerce has urged senior levels of government to fund primary mental health and residential addiction treatment services, and that must remain a priority if we are to create safe environments for business owners, their staff and their customers.”