Richard Truscott is the Vice-President, B.C. and Alberta, Canadian Federation of Independent Business (Submitted).

COLUMN: Does the B.C. government really want to help the tech industry?

BC needs to be wary of challengers within Canada who are increasing their share of the tech sector

Everyone knows the weight that promises made by politicians hold. Despite saying all the right things, when in office, their actions often do not reflect their words.

A good example is all the talk about bringing well-paying tech jobs to BC’s communities. While the provincial government has talked a big game, their actions to date strike a very different reality. Although Premier Horgan has stated the government “want[s] to grow globally competitive industry clusters and help B.C., companies scale-up” the policies they have pursued do not reflect this goal at all. Rather than spur major tech industry growth in the province, the government’s policies are more likely to repel it.

One example of this disconnect between the words of the government and their actions is the Employers Health Tax (EHT), which came into effect this year. The EHT is a brand new tax on employers in the province, pegged at nearly $2 billion per year in perpetuity. Meanwhile, the government has promised to invest a measly $100 million into the tech industry by 2020.

At the same time the EHT is coming into effect, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) rates on employers are increasing, a policy move the BC government supported. Together, these two taxes represent a significant rise in the tax burden shouldered by employers.

What will all of this new tax mean for actual tech firms?

Take a tech firm in BC which has 15 employees who earn the average salary of $1,690 per week in the industry. That firm will now face over $40,000 in brand new payroll taxes from the EHT and the CPP when fully phased in. If that firm wanted to hire a new employee, the new taxes will increase the cost by about $3,700 a year on top of all the other existing payroll taxes already in place. This does not sound like a recipe to help a tech firm to grow.

For BC to be competitive in attracting tech firms into the province, the taxes paid in the province cannot be higher than what the same firms would pay in comparable jurisdictions.

BC needs to be wary of challengers within Canada who are increasing their share of the tech sector. While BC is increasing the tax load for businesses in the province, Alberta and Ontario are both going the other way and are reducing taxes. If the BC government really wants to attract tech companies from outside or help those inside the province grow, they need to take a hard look at some of these punitive payroll policies being put in place.

This is something insiders in the tech industry are also noticing. In April, when the provincial government refused to work with the federal government to continue funding “Cube”, a tech firm incubator in Vancouver, the incubator was forced to shut its doors to the firms who relied on it. This led industry insiders to call out the provincial government for making it harder for new firms to bring their ideas to fruition.

Unless we start seeing changes, these policies will be a driving force for some firms to choose to locate their businesses elsewhere. Clearly, someone needs to tell the BC government that their policy actions speak louder than their words.

Richard Truscott is the B.C. and Alberta vice-president at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

signature

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

Just Posted

Mental health and COVID-19: going forward

Dr. Tyla Charbonneau offers some mental health advice for moving into our new normal

Elk Valley businesses announce permanent closures

Three local businesses will not be reopning their brick and mortar stores

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

District of Elkford rolls out four phase reopening plan

Phase two will begin in mid May with the reopening of some public outdoor spaces

Fernie Fox Hotel donates $5,000 to Fernie Pets Society

The donated money is going towards the development of the Railyard Dog Park

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read