Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

With B.C.’s operating deficit heading past the $13 billion mark due to COVID-19, more than four out of five B.C. residents are concerned that tax increases and service cuts are coming, according to a new survey from the Business Council of B.C.

The business group commissioned a public opinion survey from Ipsos Public Affairs to test support for its “Stronger Tomorrow, Starting Today” recovery plan, to support businesses hit hardest by the pandemic and public health measures to contain it. The plan includes placing a time limit on municipal project approvals and restructuring B.C.’s sales tax to give the private sector a better chance to invest and recover.

The survey was conducted shortly after Premier John Horgan won a majority mandate in the Oct. 24 election. It found 81 per cent agreement that the B.C. government should do more to support businesses, and 79 per cent are concerned that the NDP’s election promises are going to lead to higher taxes or debt.

Business council CEO Greg D’Avignon said a surprising result of the survey is the high level of concern among younger people as well as older people who have lived through Canada’s struggles with debt and deficits before.

“They’re seeing this money fly around all over the place,” D’Avignon said in an interview with Black Press Media Dec. 1. “Everyone has a story about getting money they didn’t think they deserve. They know it’s coming from somewhere, and they know they’re going to have to pay it back at some point.”

Horgan’s campaign promise of $1,000 payments to most B.C. households has no requirement to show lost income. It comes on top of federal relief spending that has been shown to have greatly exceeded income losses across Canada, with more deficit spending promised this week by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

VIDEO: Federal deficit nears $400B, more spending to come

RELATED: B.C. legislature sits Dec. 7 for COVID-19 payments

A recent analysis by CIBC found Canadians are saving money at unprecedented rates, due to what economists describe as poorly targeted and excessive federal relief payments that many people have banked because they didn’t need the money.

“COVID-19 has triggered the largest cash accumulation in recorded history,” the bank’s economists found.

And a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed household incomes in Canada rose 11 per cent in the second quarter of the fiscal year, despite a sharp contraction in the economy. The OECD calculated that Canadian labour income fell by more than $100 billion in the second quarter, but government transfers grew by $225 billion in the same period, leaving Canada with the largest deficit increase of any developed country.

“With a new government in place and prospects of vaccines being available in 2021, now is the time to be thinking about how to get B.C. businesses back on their feet, how to recoup the 100,000 full-time jobs lost in the last year, and how to reinvigorate the private sector, which will drive the necessary government revenues to provide essential supports and address mounting public debt,” BCBC president Greg D’Avignon said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

A Northern Health vaccination clinic is set for the Wells Community Hall on Tuesday, April 20. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 vaccination clinic coming to Wells

Vaccine to be available for anyone 18+

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

Most Read