Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

With B.C.’s operating deficit heading past the $13 billion mark due to COVID-19, more than four out of five B.C. residents are concerned that tax increases and service cuts are coming, according to a new survey from the Business Council of B.C.

The business group commissioned a public opinion survey from Ipsos Public Affairs to test support for its “Stronger Tomorrow, Starting Today” recovery plan, to support businesses hit hardest by the pandemic and public health measures to contain it. The plan includes placing a time limit on municipal project approvals and restructuring B.C.’s sales tax to give the private sector a better chance to invest and recover.

The survey was conducted shortly after Premier John Horgan won a majority mandate in the Oct. 24 election. It found 81 per cent agreement that the B.C. government should do more to support businesses, and 79 per cent are concerned that the NDP’s election promises are going to lead to higher taxes or debt.

Business council CEO Greg D’Avignon said a surprising result of the survey is the high level of concern among younger people as well as older people who have lived through Canada’s struggles with debt and deficits before.

“They’re seeing this money fly around all over the place,” D’Avignon said in an interview with Black Press Media Dec. 1. “Everyone has a story about getting money they didn’t think they deserve. They know it’s coming from somewhere, and they know they’re going to have to pay it back at some point.”

Horgan’s campaign promise of $1,000 payments to most B.C. households has no requirement to show lost income. It comes on top of federal relief spending that has been shown to have greatly exceeded income losses across Canada, with more deficit spending promised this week by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

VIDEO: Federal deficit nears $400B, more spending to come

RELATED: B.C. legislature sits Dec. 7 for COVID-19 payments

A recent analysis by CIBC found Canadians are saving money at unprecedented rates, due to what economists describe as poorly targeted and excessive federal relief payments that many people have banked because they didn’t need the money.

“COVID-19 has triggered the largest cash accumulation in recorded history,” the bank’s economists found.

And a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed household incomes in Canada rose 11 per cent in the second quarter of the fiscal year, despite a sharp contraction in the economy. The OECD calculated that Canadian labour income fell by more than $100 billion in the second quarter, but government transfers grew by $225 billion in the same period, leaving Canada with the largest deficit increase of any developed country.

“With a new government in place and prospects of vaccines being available in 2021, now is the time to be thinking about how to get B.C. businesses back on their feet, how to recoup the 100,000 full-time jobs lost in the last year, and how to reinvigorate the private sector, which will drive the necessary government revenues to provide essential supports and address mounting public debt,” BCBC president Greg D’Avignon said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Saanich has awarded the tender for a youth bike skills park planned for the lot next to the George Tripp BC Hydro Substation off Lochside Drive to Bike Track Ltd. for $242,000. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich selects company to build youth bike skills track at Tripp Station Park

More than $240,000 allotted for Bike Track Ltd. to design bike park

Victoria police are warning people of a continued rise in cybercrime. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
Victoria police warn of rising cybercrime called spear phishing

Fraudsters continue to trick people out of large sums of money

The purchase of 27 acres in the Millstream Creek watershed by The Land Conservancy and other partners will protect a sensitive ecosystem in the Highlands. (Photo contributed by The Land Conservancy)
Provincial land conservancy lays out $600,000 for Highlands property

Anonymous donor helps buy purchased 11.1 hectares of Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem

Colin Springford doing what he loved best, tending to his garden. (Linda Matteson photo)
Longtime farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Dallas Road

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

Most Read