If you own or work for a small business in British Columbia, you are probably well aware that the current government is looking for every means possible to squeeze more money out of the little guy.
At a time of some of the highest gas prices in B.C. history, the NDP and the Green Party announced a hike in the carbon tax on April 1 – the first of four consecutive increases that will continue each year until 2021.
To make matters worse, small businesses in this province were blindsided by the announcement of the Employer Health Tax (EHT) which came out of nowhere in this past February’s provincial budget. Without any consultation with the small business community, the newly elected NDP government announced a brand new payroll tax on any company with an annual payroll larger than $500,000. The EHT will apply to most companies with more than eight to ten employees and will also capture hospitals, school boards, non-profit service agencies - even charities will be hammered by the EHT.
It wasn’t long after that bombshell that the automotive glass repair industry got hit with another blindside announcement. Again, without any consultation with the industry, or even fair warning, government is bringing in sweeping changes that will limit the amount auto glass repair shops can receive from ICBC for replacing your windshield. I have already had a number of local glass shops reach out to me on this issue.
It is estimated this will cost the average auto glass replacement shop at least $100,000 a year. In a business where profit margins are already very slim, this leaves many shops who specialize exclusively in glass replacement with nowhere to go. To many shops across B.C., owners are wondering if they will be forced to lay people off or just close their operation all together. This move by the government doesn’t show a great deal of respect for small business, let alone skilled workers who keep your vehicle safe on the road.
For a government that campaigned on the slogan of "making life more affordable for British Columbians," you should be aware that it plans to hike everyone’s basic rates for auto insurance by 6.6 per cent this year – along with all the other tax hikes. We will continue to stand up for small businesses, the backbone of our province's economy, and will be holding the government to account for these decisions.
If this is how government thinks it’s going to make life better, I wonder what they have in store for us next year?
Dan Davies is the BC Liberal MLA for Peace River North.