Column: B.C. remains leader in red tape reduction

You may already know the majority of businesses in B.C. are small businesses.

You may already know the majority of businesses in B.C. are small businesses.

In fact, 98 per cent of all businesses in B.C. are considered small businesses, defined as having 50 or fewer employees. That’s more than 382,000 businesses, employing more than one million workers in our province. That makes up nearly 55 per cent of the private sector jobs in B.C. — the highest in all of Canada.

Small businesses are the engine of our economy, accounting for 31 per cent of B.C.’s GDP. This is why our province has worked so hard to cut red tape and provide a clearer path for small business owners.

Our government is extending our commitment to a net zero increase of regulatory requirements to 2019. This is just one of the reasons B.C. has earned an “A” grade once again from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses for cutting red tape. We’ve earned this distinction four years in a row.

Over the past year, our government has worked with small businesses on other priority projects. We can report that WorkSafeBC is making it easier for businesses to register for workplace insurance; a new online tool has been developed for starting a restaurant; a two-page RFP form has been introduced for government procurement contracts under $250,000, to make it easier for small business to do business with government.

Reducing red tape for small business is a top priority for our government to streamline and simplify processes. We’ve cut B.C.’s small business tax rate by 44 per cent, and we’re committed to cutting it a further 40 per cent. That means by 2017, we will have one of the lowest small business tax rates in Canada.

As a former executive director of the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce, I know how important small businesses are. I could not be more proud of the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative culture.

In recognition of the recent Red Tape Awareness Week, I would like to thank all small business owners and entrepreneurs in our communities — and I encourage each of you to continue to shop local!

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and is the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.