Optimistic tone in B.C. business community

Concerns registered on housing affordability and tax increases

The BC Chamber of Commerce releases the 2017-18 Collective Perspective Survey

(Featuring insights ranging from business optimism and housing affordability, to trade with China and the Kinder Morgan Pipeline)

Optimism is widespread about issues such as housing affordability and tax increases remain, according to a membership survey carried out by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to know what’s keeping CEOs and business owners up at night,” said Val Litwin, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“This survey helps us identify what issues are top of mind for businesses in the province, and provides clarity on the choke points our members are facing.”

The 2017-18 Collective Perspective survey was conducted by Abacus Data as early 900 businesses of all sizes, representing all sectors of the economy, and from all regions of the province, participated with responses.

“This is an essential snapshot of the sentiments of business in the province,” said Bruce Anderson, of Abacus Data. “People are pretty happy with the way their businesses are performing today. Only eight per cent say their business is in poor shape, 33 per cent say acceptable, 61 per cent say good or very good, so we are looking at a business community that is pleased with where they stand.”

Among the highlights extracted from the survey:

• While business optimism and the five-year outlook remain high overall— and relatively unchanged year-over-year—there is a slight weakening in some business’s goals to “grow very significantly” (down from 40 per cent to 36 per cent in 2017). In a year of political uncertainty and change in the province, respondents indicated they are less likely to consider the provincial government to be “generally supportive of business”, with an 18-point drop since 2016.

“This is to be expected in a year of transition,” said Litwin. “Heading into 2018, we will see if this anxiety is founded.”

By contrast, perceptions about the federal government are down as well, but the change has been less severe at six points, while views of local government’s orientation towards business have improved.

• While the health of the economy—at a national, provincial, and local levels—remains the most important factor in helping growth prospects for B.C. businesses, the cost of housing and taxes are the greatest perceived threats to business growth. Housing affordability remains a major concern for businesses in both being able to attract younger people, and new business, to B.C.

•The 2017-18 survey showed businesses in B.C. rate federal tax changes floated by the federal government in 2017 likely increased the number of respondents believing federal taxes are actively hurting their business indicate with a year-over-year increase from 12 to 18 per cent. At the provincial level, most businesses want their government to focus on taxes with one in three indicating a cap on the differential between residential and business property taxes is the preferred solution, and one in four saying a made-in-BC value-added tax (VAT) is the preferred solution.

• Respondents identified access to— and the cost of—labour as one of the top five issues hurting business growth. This is felt acutely in the food, hospitality, and tourism industries. Three in five businesses want to see an easily understood and accessible portal to the tax credits and grants currently available to employers, as well a more gradual increase to minimum wage as a solution for ‘access to’ and ‘cost of’ labour). On the growth side, there was a material year-over-year increase in the number of businesses saying free trade with China is “good for BC” (a 10-point lift) and trade with China is “good for my business” (a 12-point lift).

Just Posted

Some Castlegar business owners have concerns about minimum wage increase

Castlegar business owners generally support the increases to the minimum wage, but have questions.

Interior Health facilities score high in housekeeping audits

Housekeeping audits for health facilities in the region show most are above the auditor’s benchmark.

Castlegar Rebels readying to meet Nitehawks in playoffs

Castlegar Rebels readying to meet Beaver Valley Nitehawks in playoffs

FortisBC explains rate change proposal

FortisBC met with customers in Castlegar to explain their new time-of-use rate proposal.

MP Richard Cannings speaks to Castlegar council

Castlegar council also looks at FireSmart grants and free community movies.

VIDEO: B.C. superfans soak in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Trio, including two from the Okanagan, have been cheering on Summerland Olympian Kripps among others in Korea

Art and science merge at Kootenay Gallery of Art shows

Scientists are looking to the art world to help communicate the threat of climate change.

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

UPDATE: Northern Health dealing with lack of 121 registered nurses

Auditor General says officials need to improve internal management, track effect of new policies

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Most Read