Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer hosted Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay at his Fort St. John office on Thursday afternoon, inviting local business owners to take part in a roundtable discussion on small business.
Although media were not invited to attend, there was a press conference immediately following the session in which the Conservative minister said the discussion centered around cutting red tape of government bureaucracy and challenges associated with workforce retention.
“Some of the paperwork and requirements — not just federally, but from all levels of government — can be very onerous for small business,” said Findlay.
“They basically have to fill out the same amount of paperwork as a business that may have 90 employees and some are dedicated to [paperwork], so we had some discussion on that, ways that we may be able to simplify things for small business,” she added.
On the training side, she said some local business owners expressed frustration that employees they’ve invested in find it easy to get jobs elsewhere.
“With the competitive wage here, a lot of the businesses are doing very well here in Fort St. John,” said Findlay.
“But the workforce is aware they can move to other businesses, maybe bigger businesses, better paid businesses, and how to work with that. We chatted about that quite a bit.”
More unique to the Peace Region, said Findlay, was it’s location. A relatively close proximity to centres like Fort McMurray can draw away the local workforce.
Other than that, some of the problems that businesses have here are similar across the country, she said.
“I do these roundtable discussions across the country, and everyone’s really concerned about, ‘Can we streamline? Can we make it simpler? Can we get more forms that we can download? How do we access things online? Are our communications with the CRA secure?’”
Zimmer and Findlay didn’t miss an opportunity to plug initiatives the federal government has enacted recently, such as the small business job credit, which they say will save small business owners $550 million over two years, as well as the family tax and benefits plan. At the discussion, Zimmer said he was encouraged to hear that people were making use of these tax breaks.