Chamber tackles PST

The BC Chamber Annual General Meeting & Conference wrapped up Tuesday in Kelowna with business leaders approving 49 new policies.

The AGM is hosted in a different community every year and brings together about 200 Chamber delegates to vote on new business and economic policies.

Policies are then adopted to become part of the BC Chamber’s advocacy agenda.

"Our policy development process canvasses the best and brightest ideas from business leaders right across B.C.," said Maureen Kirkbride, interim chamber CEO. "This unique grassroots process has delivered some excellent policy recommendations to help enhance B.C. as a business jurisdiction."

This year, at least 55 proposed policies were up for consideration and 49 were successful on the policy floor.

On top of the policies passed on Monday, Tuesday's meeting saw policies passed that included those that call for PST reforms and a dialogue toward a value-added tax.

"Every extra day British Columbia operates under the broken and archaic PST, we do our economy, our businesses, and our residents a major disservice. We need to take action on our tax problem now - both by passing measures to mitigate the damage the PST does, and then by launching dialogues towards a new, made-in-B.C. value-added tax that will take our economy and our province forward,” said Kirkbride.

A policy was also instituted on mobility pricing to manage congestion and fund transportation

"A strong transportation system is absolutely critical to B.C.'s livability and economic growth,” said Kirkbride.

“And with urban areas such as the Lower Mainland anticipating significant population growth over the coming years, it's critical that we have tools and strategies in place that both alleviate congestion and fund our transportation infrastructure. We see mobility pricing as an equitable and efficient way to tackle both of these goals."

A policy was also approved to provide better employer access to the Canada Job Grant.

"A skilled B.C. workforce is just so critical to our province's future. And the Canada Job Grant is a very promising initiative, however, as always, the devil is in the details," said Kirkbride. "Right now, we're seeing some glitches in how the program has been implemented that are stopping many B.C. businesses from accessing this grant for their employees. So we're calling for fixes to the program, to ensure that British Columbians are truly able to secure the skills funding that they need."

Policies voted into force so far include:

  • Equitable Hospital Capital Taxation for British Columbia
  • Reviewing Regional District Accountability
  • Customer Produced Power Improving BC Hydro Policy
  • Real Estate, Citizenship and Residency Data Collection, Analysis and Reporting
  • Small Business Benefits from Simplifying the MSP Tax System
  • Taxation of Short Term Residential Rental Units
  • Protecting Old Growth Rainforest to the Economic Benefit of Tourism Based Communities
  • The Need for a Renewed Softwood Lumber Agreement
  • Supporting B.C.'s Land-Based Wineries, Cideries and Distilleries
  • Addressing the Housing Crunch Through Increasing Supply
  • Affordable Rental Housing and a Fluid Labour Market
  • The Costs of Retail Crime
  • Public Investment in BC Ferries Infrastructure
  • Ridesharing - Supporting Industry Innovation
  • Filling the Gap Through Economic Immigration
  • Support of a Federal Excise Tax Review for Distilled Spirits
  • A Canada Job Grant Program for All Canadian Business
  • Supporting Canada's Air Travel Industry Through Lower Fees
  • Addressing Barriers to Succession Planning for Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Changing B.C.'s Sales Tax Model - Moving Beyond the PST
  • Protection of Industrial Lands for Future Prosperity
  • Supporting B.C.'s Steelmaking Coal Industry
  • Supporting Canada's Responsible Resource Development
  • The Need for an Innovative Approach to Transportation for an Increasingly Urban Province
  • Enhancing Canada's Air Travel Competitiveness

Draft versions of these proposed policies are available online, but they may not be identical to the versions passed, due to amendments made on the policy floor.

The BC Chamber represents more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province.


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