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Local chamber reacts to provincial budget

Business community praises housing, childcare investments, worries about rising taxes

There was mixed reaction to the provincial budget by business advocates in Cranbrook, as the local Chamber of Commerce highlighted investments in housing and childcare, while expressing concern over rising taxes.

The B.C. Chamber specifically noted concerns over the Employers Health Tax, which is replacing Medical Services Premiums, a rising carbon tax and minimum wages.

“The effects of the new budget on business in the East Kootenays is yet to be determined, but we share the concern of the BC Chamber in that immense cumulative business tax increases will likely stall our businesses ability to grow.” says Wes Rodgers, president of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce.

“We are encouraged by the governments aggressive support in housing and childcare, for which the City of Cranbrook is in dire need, but we worry this investment comes at a cost to our business community. There needs to be better balance.” adds Rogers.

The provincial budget dropped eight days ago during B.C. Chamber Week, as representatives from the provincial organization were in Cranbrook to meet with members to promote benefit plans.

Dan Baxter, Director of Policy Development, Government & Stakeholder Relations with the B.C. Chamber, said praised the balanced aspect of the budget, but noted that it was balanced “on the backs of business.”

“They’re keying in on the right issues that are important to British Columbians; there are a lot of goals — we all want housing affordability, we all want us to have good child care, but it has to be balanced correctly so that businesses isn’t necessarily footing the entire bill,” Baxter said.

Baxter noted that the coporate tax rate has risen a percentage point to 12 per cent since the new government formed, and more tax-related increases are on the way through the Employers Health Tax, which is set to collect $1.9 billion, and a carbon tax set to rise to $40 per ton.

The Employer Health Tax went into effect this year, however, MSP is stll being collected at half the rate until being fully phased out next year.

Baxter also pointed out positive aspects contained within the Clean BC plan, such as millions of incentives for medium and heavy-duty vehicle conversion as well as funding for light-duty fleets to adopt zero-emisison vehicles.

Other policy initiatives praised by the Baxter and the chamber include making the Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit and the Mining Exploration Tax Credit permanent.

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Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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