The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the impact of what it calls “crippling tax increases” in the new NDP budget.
General manager Dione Chambers says one concern is that MSP premiums will be fully paid by business, once the new employer health tax kicks in next year.
“There’s businesses that are currently paying that, so there is this chance of overlap, because it’s not really clear how that’s going to roll out. There is also increases to the carbon tax in April, so you put that on top of CPP increases, and you’ve got the minimum wage increase (in June) that was announced a week ago. It’s that whole layering effect,” Chambers tells CJIB News.
Pictured: Dione Chambers, general manager, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
Chambers says the new employers health tax will impact a lot of local businesses with payroll of a half million dollars or more.
“If you’ve got a small business that pays their employees well, they can very easily to that over $500,000 with ten employees. It doesn’t take very long to get there if you’re paying well. You could have a restaurant that has a lot of part time staff. They (province) identifying by the payroll versus revenue. They’ve just basically put a new identification of what small business is,” adds Chambers.
Chambers says there is also confusion about hotel tax revenue, with new wording from the province that suggests some of the funds could now be used by municipalities for affordable housing initiatives.
Those funds, to this point, have gone into tourism marketing.
“Some people are reading that, that that could be affordable housing for the tourism industry. Others are saying it’s up to the municipality to decide how that money will be spent. There is not a whole lot within that amount and it would be gone very quickly if it were put into affordable housing.”
Chambers says they hope the province will provide more clarity on the issue.
The hotel tax generated close to 700-thousand dollars last year in Vernon, to the end of November, and was raised to 3 percent last month.
Despite the concerns, the Chamber, which represents 550 businesses, says it applauds the BC government for its commitment to invest in housing attainability and available child care.
“The provincial government is investing over $1.9 billion over 3 years in a comprehensive housing plan which will help build affordable housing, including homes for growing families, homes for seniors, housing options for women and children fleeing violence and student housing. This investment aligns with the BC Chamber policy on affordable housing which recommends increased rental support through the Shelter Aid for elderly renters and the rental assistance program for lower income British Columbians,” says president Markus Schrott.