CFIB pre-budget submission goes to BC Minister of Finance, member survey results support government goals on growing economy

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THE Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) met this week with BC’s Minister of Finance Mike de Jong to ask him to reject calls for a CPP increase, and to take steps to improve the provincial sales tax. The meeting also provided an opportunity to share results from a recently conducted member survey on the BC government vision for economic growth.

“The BC government recognizes that small business is a significant driver of our economy, and our members’ opinions provide valuable insights on ways to strengthen BC’s economic competitiveness,” says Laura Jones, Executive Vice President. “I believe the minister heard our members’ views on the upcoming decision on Canada Pension Plan premium increases, and their concerns about the impacts of PST.”

“We emphasized with Minister de Jong that small business represents the voice of the middle in BC—the practical viewpoints of people invested in their communities and our province’s future,” adds Mike Klassen, Director of Provincial Affairs. “If there is a group that represents the voice of average British Columbians, it is the province’s small business owners. This is all the more reason to pay attention to what they have to say.”

In addition to a call to reject CPP increases and take steps to improve the PST, CFIB is calling on the BC government to strengthen regulatory reforms, and to address growing concerns about out-of-control spending by local government.

As part of the pre-budget consultation with the Minister of Finance, CFIB conducted a member survey on core questions about the BC government’s ‘strong economy and secure tomorrow’ vision. The survey conducted on October 7-24 received 750 responses. A few highlights include:

* 45% of respondents knew of and supported the ‘strong economy and secure tomorrow’ government vision

* 88% were ‘very supportive’ of government efforts to reduce red tape

* 49% were ‘very supportive’ of achieving  long-term (10-year) labour agreements with public sector workers

* 63% were supportive of oil pipeline projects when the Premier’s ‘5 conditions’ are met (16% were unconditionally supportive)

* 43% answered “don’t know” when asked if they understood their obligations with respect to new paper/packaging recycling regulations taking effect in May

* 48% “strongly agree” with government goals to increase procurement opportunities for small business by twenty per cent

* 60% agree that ‘arms-length’ (non-government) agencies given the power to impose rules or fees on business should be subject to BC’s Regulatory Reform Policy

* 58% of business owners say that if they were given a tax credit on PST paid on machinery or office equipment such as computers, they would re-invest those savings into growing their business

“The message to government is straightforward,” says Klassen. “Just let BC small businesses compete on a level playing field, without excessive regulatory burden and tax them fairly, and they will help you grow the economy.”

The 2014/15 Pre-budget Submission and complete survey results are posted at www.cfib.ca/bc.