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

B.C. declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

More than 3,300 firefighters are battling more than 500 fires

Police, muni on site of break-in at pump station

Investigation being conducted but no public safety concern, officer says

Nanaimo Lakes fire a model for new satellite mapping technology

B.C.-based technology company uses Nanaimo Lakes fire to create animated map of fire progress.

Ladysmith 49ers U11 AA team mount fourth place finish at provincials

The U11 AA Ladysmith 49ers hosted the Regional Island Tournament at Holland… Continue reading

Sonic the Hedgehog movie casting call in Ladysmith next week

Film to hire 100 people as extras to play role of ‘townsfolk’

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

‘Can’t erase history’ by tearing down statues, Minister says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna spoke on the contentious removal of John A. Macdonald

Man seriously injured in Lower Mainland home explosion

Police are trying to figure out what led to a homemade explosive detonating in a Coquitlam home

Canadian soccer captain Christine Sinclair continues to lead fight against MS

Burgers to Beat MS has raised more than $11 million since its inception in 2009

VIDEO: Post-surgery monologue comedy gold

If you’ve ever had surgery with anaesthetic you know the coming out of it process can be a treat.

LETTERS: Doctors speak out on surgical wait times for B.C. patients

‘Governments know they will lose private clinic lawsuit’

Thieves steal supplies, tools and juice boxes from B.C. summer camp

‘Take a moment to think about who you stole from,’ says Burns Bog Society’s Mark Robertson

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Most Read