Mining, Construction, Taxpayers and Accountant Associations respond to BC budget

The BC Budget 2018 was released on February 20th and reaction was swift from provincial associations.

Rodger McLean, Chair of the Mining Suppliers Association of British Columbia (MSABC) was one of industry leaders who responded to Tuesday's BC budget.

Rodger McLean, Chair of the Mining Suppliers Association of British Columbia (MSABC) was one of industry leaders who responded to Tuesday's BC budget. — Photo courtesy MSABC

The B.C. Government released the BC Budget 2018 on February 20 - below are some reactions from provincial mining, construction, taxpayer and accountant associations. 

AME Responds to Provincial Budget

VICTORIA, B.C., Feb. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The provincial budget announced today maintains a fiscal platform for establishing B.C. as a globally competitive jurisdiction for mineral exploration and development.

“Mineral exploration and development provide real and significant socio-economic opportunities and benefits to communities and First Nations in all regions of B.C., and are essential to discovering the metals and minerals required for a low-carbon future,” notes Ms. Edie Thome, President & CEO of AME. “The mining flow-through share program, as extended for a one-year term in today’s budget is one component of reinforcing B.C.’s competitiveness on the world stage.” This incentive allows individuals who invest in flow-through shares to claim a non-refundable tax credit of 20% of their B.C. flow-through expenditures.

AME will continue to work with the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Minister Michelle Mungall to encourage exploration and development investment as well as geoscience research and technical assessments in B.C.

“We appreciate our working relationship with the Minister and her staff in supporting B.C.’s socially responsible mineral exploration industry, which provides benefits for all British Columbians,” says Dr. ’Lyn Anglin, Chair of the Board of Directors for AME.

“We will continue to advocate for the government to provide the fiscal resources that are required to facilitate the Minister’s mandate of creating a viable and sustainable future for the mineral exploration and development industry in British Columbia, an industry that all British Columbians can be proud of.”

About AME:

AME is the lead association for the mineral exploration and development industry based in British Columbia. Established in 1912, AME represents, advocates and promotes the interests of thousands of members who are engaged in mineral exploration and development in B.C. and throughout the world. AME encourages a safe, economically strong and environmentally responsible industry by providing clear initiatives, policies, events and tools to support its membership.

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Important Tax and Training Measures Advanced in BC Budget 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Mining Suppliers Association of British Columbia (MSABC) supports several tax and training measures in Budget 2018 aimed at attracting investments in exploration and mining as well as preparing our workforce to capitalize on new development opportunities.

Budget 2018 extends the Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit for one year, to the end of 2018.  “The extension of the Mining Flow-Through Share Tax Credit will help companies raise money for a variety of exploration activities,” said Rodger McLean, Chair of MSABC.  “From project planning, equipment transport to finally drilling and testing core samples, B.C. companies that provide supplies and services for mineral exploration and mining activities will benefit from Flow-Through Share investments in 2018.”

Plans to fully remove the PST on electricity used by industry by April 1 2019 were reaffirmed in Budget 2018.  “The reduction of the 7% PST on electricity used by industry to 3.5% on January 1, 2018 was an important first step towards leveling the playing field with competing jurisdictions that do not tax this input cost,” said McLean.  “We look forward to the full removal of PST on industrial electricity by 2019.” MSABC is encouraged by other budget measures to improve industry competitiveness, including new carbon tax relief programs to assist Emission Intensive, Trade Exposed (EITE) sectors.

Budget 2018 also provides $30 million over three years to support the Indigenous Skills Training Development Fund, which allows First Nations communities to identify labour market needs and partner with training providers to ensure workers are trained and able to take advantage of those employment opportunities.   “The ability for Indigenous peoples, and particularly youth, to access this training opportunity helps address the challenge of the aging demographic of our skilled workforce, and will be of significant benefit to our member companies that provide long-term employment opportunities in all regions of the province,” added McLean.

MSABC continues to review Budget 2018 to understand the full range of benefits for our members as well as the potential cost impacts of new measures, such as the 1.95% employer health tax rate, which comes into effect January 1, 2019.

MSABC comprises suppliers, contractors and consultants to the B.C. mining industry who are committed to promoting the sustainability of this valuable resource sector.

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NDP Budget Puts Economy on Autopilot, Hikes Taxes: ICBA

VICTORIA – The NDP Government’s first B.C. Budget in 17 years is balanced, but it’s clear far more attention was given to spending taxpayer dollars than to growing the economy, says the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

“This budget puts the economy on autopilot – it offers nothing for how to grow prosperity, how to get to yes on major projects, or how to attract investment to B.C. In fact, its tax hikes hinder that effort,” said Jordan Bateman, ICBA Communications Director. “With a razor-thin surplus dependent on a lot of things going right, B.C. taxpayers should be alarmed that the NDP Government has stopped paying attention to growing the economy.”

The Massey Tunnel replacement project has been completely deleted from theBudget, and while the new Pattullo Bridge is funded, there are no line items for Surrey light rail or the Broadway subway.

“The only workforce and industry support mentioned by the Finance Minister were $18 million for arts grants and $29 million for agriculture. There’s another $144 million from the federal government for employment programs, but you can’t help but think Ottawa might be hesitant to cut that cheque right now,” said Bateman. “This won’t do much to grow the economy.”

While there is much to like in the government’s 30-point housing plan – including cracking down on tax cheats – there are some notable omissions. No mention is made of pushing cities to cut red tape on new housing, which is a significant hindrance to supply.

ICBA members should also brace themselves for a new employer health care payroll tax, to replace the Medical Services Premium. Businesses with payrolls over $500,000 will have to pay a new health tax for their employees. The tax’s initial rate is set at 1.95 per cent of payroll. 

“The NDP are balancing this budget by hiking taxes on B.C.’s job creators,” said Bateman. “Lost MSP revenue will be $1.74 billion over three years, but the new payroll tax will bring in $3.2 billion during that time. That kind of double dipping is troubling and disingenuous – collecting both the old and new tax at once.”

With last year’s personal income tax hike, the carbon tax increasing by $5 a ton every year, the minimum wage hike, more regulation, a new 2 cent per litre Capital Region gas tax, and the MSP-Employer Health Tax double dip, small businesses – as 90 per cent of ICBA members are – will be stretched thin. In total, the NDP Government is raising taxes by more than $5.5 billion over three years.

The provincial debt will grow by a billion dollars each quarter over the next two years, to $77 billion.

About the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

ICBA represents more than 2,000 members and clients in construction and responsible resource development and is one of the leading third-party providers of group health and retirement benefits in B.C. ICBA trains more than 3,500 workers every year and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in the province. www.icba.ca

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New health tax for BC employers

VICTORIA, BC: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) reacted today to the release of the BC government’s 2018 budget. In the new budget, the BC government is shifting a big health tax burden on to employers, while planting the seeds for an expensive government daycare system.

While eliminating the Medical Services Premium (MSP) for individuals, the BC government has created a new Employer Health Tax for businesses with payrolls over $500,000. This will rake in $463 million for government coffers in 2018-19, with the haul jumping to $1.9 billion in 2020-21. Many small businesses like restaurants can easily exceed half a million in payroll, so this new tax hits a wide range of job creators.

“This is robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we worry that employees will suffer for it,” said Kris Sims, BC Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “It was good that the government committed to axing the unfair MSP health tax, but they are now pinning it on employers who will have to find that money somewhere. Employers don’t have a magical pot of money to hand to government and they will do things like freezing wages, halting hiring and ceasing expansion. That punishes growth and innovation.”

The BC carbon tax is going up to $35 per ton on April 1st this year, and it will no longer be labelled “revenue neutral” which means the government doesn’t need detail where they are spending it.

The BC government has delivered a balanced budget – but just barely. The ICBC financial “dumpster fire” continues to plague the provincial government, dragging down the budgetsurplus to a razor thin $219 million.

“If the BC government could take the ICBC anchor off its neck, this budget would be much more buoyant,” Sims added. “It would be a relief to change ICBC into a co-op, putting it into the hands of drivers who choose it and opening it up to competition.”

The government is also funneling taxpayer dollars into childcare, with the money going to licensed daycare providers and university training for daycare workers, rather than directly to parents.

“Whenever government gets involved, it gets complicated and expensive, it’s better to give the money directly back to parents and families so they can use the money where they need it – if that’s at an official daycare provider or at grandma’s house, that choice should be up to them,” Sims added.

Other tax changes include:

  • BC carbon tax increasing to $35 per ton, costing an average household more than $350 in gasoline carbon taxes per year.
  • Hiking the gas tax in Victoria by 2 cents per litre, to 5.5 cents per litre, collecting $7 million taxpayer dollars for the government.
  • Cancelling the BC Education Tax credit.
  • Creating a new BC caregiver credit up to $230.53 per year.
  • Jacking up taxes on smokers to 27.5 cents per cigarette, $5.50 in BC tax for a pack of 20 cigarettes.

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Ensuring affordability and competitiveness key to economic prosperity

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Feb. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) applaud the government for its sixth consecutive balanced budget. The government is projecting a budget surplus over the next three fiscal years ­– $219 million in 2018-19; $281 million in 2019-20; and $284 million in 2020-21. And it is expecting to eliminate the province’s operating debt by the end of 2018-19, a year ahead of what was forecasted in Budget Update 2017.

The government’s fiscal responsibility has allowed it to make strategic investments in housing affordability and child care, which are key areas of focus in Budget 2018. In targeting housing affordability, the government introduced a housing strategy that focuses on both the supply and demand side of B.C.’s housing crisis.

“B.C.’s CPAs have consistently ranked housing prices as the top economic issue that challenges business success in the province. We welcome the government’s focus on stabilizing the real estate market. While the details and the ultimate impact of the proposals are unknown, the government has shown a commitment to discouraging speculation, creating better transparency, and reducing tax loopholes,” said Lori Mathison, president and CEO of CPABC.

The government also made important social investments which will make life more affordable for British Columbians. They include:

  • a made-in-B.C. plan for child care, including a $1.0 billion investment to establish a new affordable child care benefit and child care fee reduction program, which should allow parents better access to employment and business opportunities;
  • $548 million over three years to improve care for seniors and $150 million to help connect those without a family doctor with team-based primary care; and
  • $105 million to reduce prescription drugs costs for low income families.

Education was also an important focus in Budget 2018, with significant investment in schools and post-secondary institutions, particularly on programs that create job-ready graduates to help address the skills gap in B.C.

“Of concern to business is the introduction of a new employer health tax to fund the announced elimination of the MSP premiums by January 1, 2020. While this tax may not impact the coffee shop around the corner, it will impact many businesses within British Columbia,” said Mathison.

Effective January 1, 2019, the employer health tax will apply to employers with payroll over $1.5 million who will pay the maximum rate of 1.95 per cent on their total payroll. For businesses with payroll between $500,000 and $1.5 million, the tax rate will phase in gradually. With a low threshold relative to other jurisdictions that have a payroll tax, the tax could impact B.C.’s overall business competitiveness and long-term economic sustainability.

CPABC commends the government for its strong support of B.C.’s Indigenous communities. Budget 2018 includes an investment of $201 million over three years for Indigenous peoples, including housing, child care, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and the Indigenous Skills Training Program. The Budget also included historic funding to Indigenous communities seeking to revitalize connections to their languages.

About CPA British Columbia

The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for more than 35,000 CPA members and almost 6,000 CPA students and candidates. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.

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