Wrong time for increased taxes on small businesses says MP

Not the time for tax hikes

On Jan. 1, while we’re ringing in the New Year, the federal Liberal (government) will be busy raising taxes on small businesses.

As small businesses try to look forward to a brighter 2022, the government will increase taxes on the same businesses that haven’t recovered from the initial impacts of COVID-19. Right as the clock strikes midnight at year-end, payroll taxes will once again see an increase. Now is not the right time to be raising the cost of doing business in Kelowna-Lake Country, especially after all our region has faced this year.

According to Statistics Canada's most recent survey of business conditions, more than one in four Canadian businesses expect their profitability to decline before year's end. There were many times this year when more businesses closed than opened. A rise in payroll tax won't raise much revenue if more and more small businesses end up having to close.

But my calls, and those of my Conservative colleagues, for the Liberals to freeze this increase have fallen on deaf ears. This is what happens when you have a small business minister who isn’t an entrepreneur and has never run her own business.

People frequently ask me about the increasing costs of almost everything these days, from lumber to ground beef to gas. No one can catch a break with inflation reaching a 20-year high. Similarly, small businesses in Kelowna—Lake Country are telling me how this is causing a drop in their sales in what should be the busiest shopping season of the year. Increased costs combined with supply chain issues, a labour crisis and COVID-19 are continuing to place small businesses under strain.

Of equal impact to our region is the U.S. decision to double tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. Many in Kelowna are still reeling from more than 200 good jobs lost due to the closure of the Tolko mill last year and now more are at risk.

The government was forewarned of this. I have raised the issue of our softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. since my first time speaking in the House of Commons two years ago. Conservatives advocated for softwood lumber be included in CUSMA (the new North American Free Trade Agreement). I even warned the minister of international trade of these tariff increases at an emergency committee meeting on the issue in June.

But, less than two weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to the U.S., the American government doubled their tariffs. It was simply another failure on the international stage by this Liberal government.

The Liberal response to the tariffs was one of "disappointment." Workers in our softwood industry won't be comforted by this continued mismanagement by the Trudeau government over six years, with four trade ministers and three different U.S. presidents in office.

Without an agreement, downstream effects will persist here in Kelowna-Lake Country, such as increasing construction material costs. Getting an agreement done, like the one signed under the former Conservative government, is a top priority for me and my colleagues.

Through the holiday season, and as we enter into the New Year, I want to remind everyone of the incredible small businesses, not-for-profits and charities we have here in Kelowna—Lake Country. After a difficult last two years, remember to shop local, and, if you can, volunteer or donate to not-for-profits or charities that serve our community.

As always, please reach out if you have any thoughts, ideas or concerns or if you need any assistance with federal services. I also encourage you to sign up for my regular emails (through my website) to stay up to date on my work in both Ottawa and Kelowna-Lake Country at tracygraymp.ca. I can also reached by email at [email protected].

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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