BC Budget 2023 & Burnaby Board of Trade Analysis
FOCUS ON HEALTH AND MENTAL-HEALTH CARE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND CLEAN ECONOMY NEEDED, BUT RISING COSTS ARE WEIGHING BUSINESS DOWN
Victoria/Burnaby, February 28, 2023 – Today’s provincial budget tackles rising costs for residents and our strained public health and safety infrastructure with continued investments in housing, mental health, and crime prevention, but SMEs need more direct action to address the persistent rising cost of doing business in Burnaby and across BC.
“The BC Government is focusing in on many of the right issues when it comes to affordability – but the question is, will these spending investments be sustainable in an increasingly uncertain global economy, while domestically, our businesses are facing increasing cost pressures?” asked Burnaby Board of Trade president & CEO Paul Holden. “Ultimately it’s a healthy, thriving business community that supports these needed investments; it’s important we don’t lose sight of that.”
The Burnaby Board of Trade applauds needed additional investments in affordable housing, mental health care, and crime prevention, but are disappointed in the lack of vision to support for business, innovation, economic investment, and job creation. Budget 2023 offered no attention to the overall cost of doing business in our province, including the need to reduce the burden of the Employers Health Tax that is expected to raise $2.7 billion from BC businesses in 2023/24.
“The Burnaby Board of Trade wanted to see a clearer focus on solutions that will reduce the cost of doing business that is weighing down a stronger recovery from the pandemic,” says Holden. “And while there are many potential cures to our collective cost burdens on business, one solution the Burnaby Board of Trade and its members were advocating for was an increase to the Employers Health Tax base payroll threshold, which would exempt more businesses from this one specific tax burden.”
Helpful investments for business within BC Budget 2023 include:
- invests $480 million over three years to support the Future Ready Plan, including a cornerstone of the plan being $39 million over three years for a new short-term skills training grant.
- $58 million directed towards speeding up foreign credential recognition for qualified professionals.
- Increased supports to address significant societal issues that have a direct impact on business, including housing, homelessness and mental health.
Overall today’s budget could have said more on how BC’s business community – especially SMEs – will be better set up to compete in the years to come. While the Future Ready Plan to address ongoing skilled labour shortages is welcome, the government must strive to reduce the cost burden facing business that will allow our businesses to succeed in order to support our fellow citizen and their communities alike.
President and CEO
Burnaby Board of Trade