Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C. (BCBC/Youtube)

COVID-19: Cut sales tax, boost daycare, B.C. business group urges

Business Council of B.C. wants local government reform

B.C. should extend its deferral of sales taxes collected by struggling businesses to the end of 2020, and cut the seven-per-cent tax rate in half as a first step to converting it to a value added tax.

That’s among the measures recommended by the Business Council of B.C. in their COVID-19 recovery plan. Another is to add new daycare capacity to give parents the ability to return to work and keep private sector employers going.

Business Council CEO Greg D’Avignon said reforming local government is a vital step in getting the private sector economy back to full speed. And the problem gets worse in big metropolitan areas with a patchwork of municipalities.

“It can take as long as six years to get building permits done, which is longer than the Second World War before you can even start building,” D’Avignon said in an interview with Black Press Media.

“Speeding up decision-making varies by municipality, but it’s been well-known that B.C. has one of the most laissez-faire approaches to municipal governance of anywhere in the country. It manifests itself particularly as centres become more urbanized, whether it’s in the Okanagan, on the Island and obviously the Lower Mainland from Chilliwack through to Pemberton.”

The report, called Stronger Tomorrow, Starting Today, makes 24 recommendations, with increasing child care options high among them.

“There is plenty of vacant retail and office space in cities and towns that can be repurposed to increase capacity for child care,” the Business Council says in the report, released July 29. “This could be coupled with a rapid re-skilling initiative led by the province and post-secondary education institutions to launch programs to train more child care providers who can support B.C. families and children in the COVID period and beyond.”

Premier John Horgan’s minority NDP government has made child care a priority for three years, and the opposition has repeatedly accused it of creating more announcements than actual spaces. The latest announcement on July 22 was that 16,800 new spaces have been funded in the past two years, with extra training spaces to deal with chronic staff shortages.

Keeping daycare facilities going during the pandemic has been helped by temporary emergency funding. MLA Katrina Chen, minister of state for child care, says the funding has reached 4,500 facilities around the province with 85 per cent of them operating.

RELATED: Subsidized child care pilot projects extended to 2021

RELATED: B.C. prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery plan

Finance Minister Carole James has reserved a $1.5 billion financial recovery fund from the $5 billion borrowed in spring to provide pandemic relief. After a consultation period, deployment is expected in September.

The Business Council report calls for a broader value-added tax to replace the PST.

“We are not proposing a return to the federal-B.C. harmonized sales tax that voters narrowly rejected in the 2012 referendum,” the report states. Details would be up to government and the public, but the proposal is to broaden the sales tax base and lower the rate, with a low-income credit similar to the federal Goods and Services Tax.

Tax reform is part of the Business Council’s strategy for reviving private sector investment, in the traditional forest and resource industries as well as technology. The report renews the council’s call for reducing top personal income tax brackets, which have risen both federally and provincially to more than 50 per cent of income combined.

“The first thing we’re saying to the NDP is don’t raise those further,” said Jock Finlayson, the Business Council’s chief policy officer, adding that high personal taxes deter investors and entrepreneurs without raising much revenue for the government.

B.C.’s carbon tax is also targeted for reform, recommending it follow the federal carbon tax that allows protection for exporting industries.

“Today, B.C. natural resource companies, agricultural producers, manufacturers and transportation companies are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in carbon taxes every year, while competitors elsewhere do not face the same tax burden,” the report says. “B.C.’s current approach to carbon pricing is undermining the commercial viability of some of the province’s leading export industries and threatens to accelerate ‘carbon leakage’ as industrial production in the natural resource and manufacturing sectors migrates out of B.C. to jurisdictions with no or less burdensome carbon pricing schemes.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

BC ELECTION
Voters hit the polls early

17 per cent of Kootenay East voters have already voted, with four days to go until the election

File photo
Main Roads warns of snow over weekend

It’s expected to snow in most areas covered by the East Kootenay Service Area

Tom Shypitka, Wayne Stetski, Kerri Wall and moderator Thomas Skelton at the Oct. 15 Elk Valley all-candidates forum. (Source: zoom)
At a glance: Kootenay East candidates go head-to-head in Elk Valley forum

Shypitka, Stetski and Wall called in to the zoom forum to talk all things Elk Valley

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons.
MP Morrison responds to federal throne speech, pushes for rapid testing at airports

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian criticizes throne speech, wants COIVD-19 testing at borders, airports

Anne Jimmie holds up a photo of her and her mother, Christine Jimmy, that was taken in 1948. Photo: Aaron Hemens
Saving the inner child: The Healing Journey

“There was this little girl inside that was so hurt, that was so wounded … I needed to nurture that little girl and understand her.”

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

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

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Invermere couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read