Burnaby Board of Trade Champions Policies at BC Chamber Annual General Meeting
This week, Burnaby Board of Trade CEO Paul Holden, along with Chair of the Board Mike Kaerne and Vice-Chair Paula Skaper, attended the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference (BC Chamber AGM) in Prince George. There, they met with representatives from other Boards of Trade and Chambers to advocate on behalf of our members. We are pleased to report that all three of our presented policies were accepted and subsequently adopted as BC Chamber policies and will be presented to the provincial government as such.
The policies focused on pertinent issues for Burnaby and BC businesses, including the manufacturing supply chain, paid sick leave and property assessments and taxation.
The three policies are as follows:
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both the provincial and federal governments have spoken to the importance of domestic bio-manufacturing capacity to produce tests, vaccines and therapeutics to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemics of the future. However, before a test, vaccine or treatment can ever be manufactured, the constituent parts and ingredients must be secured. Without also investing in a local supply chain that can provide the necessary inputs for bio-manufacturing, BC and Canada risk undercutting our own efforts to bolster our domestic capacity and increase our selfsufficiency.
As of January 1, 2022, BC employers are required to provide at least 5 days of paid illness or injury leave, otherwise known as ‘sick leave’ to all employees. This new employer obligation, while laudable in its aim to support workers and protect workplaces, represents an unnecessary intrusion by the government into the employer-employee relationship, creates a new financial and administrative burden on businesses that are only starting to recover from the pandemic, and has been implemented and interpreted in a very broad way that negatively impacts employers, and in some cases, even workers.
Many businesses across BC are facing an existential threat in the form of unsustainably high property tax bills. This problem is fueled by the BC Assessment process of valuing properties based on the “highest and best use” of the property (such as a redevelopment), and not on its current use. Due to this model, businesses, whether property owners themselves or through their leases, are being taxed on the future development potential of their sites with little regard for the current use of the property, or the cashflow or profitability of the current business. These high property tax bills can threaten the survival of many small and medium-sized businesses, and risk hollowing out local economies as businesses are forced to either relocate or close altogether due simply to the skyrocketing cost of their property tax bills. A provincial solution that mitigates the impact of soaring, inequitable property assessments on the tax bills facing the business community is needed.