MP Jean Crowder

Canadian businesses being hit with escalated fees

Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder talks about some of the changes proposed in the last two federal budgets that have been a concern.

Many Canadians were dismayed by some of the changes proposed in the last two federal budgets.

While much attention focused on the changes to the protection of navigable waters or the dismantling of environmental legislation, two other changes came to light over the summer that will affect people in our area.

The first is a decision by Conservatives to changes the fees charged to international musicians. Previously, the fee for performers was $150 per band member with a maximum of $450 for the entire band. That allowed the band to play anywhere in the country and at any venue.

Now, the regulations state that any venue where music is not the main business must pay an application fee of $275 per musician and anyone touring with the band as well as a work permit fee of $150 for each person.

This is on top of any performance fees the musicians may charge — the money they actually make when touring, which helps pay for travel, wages for the crew and to pay for their recordings.

It isn’t clear how this will affect festivals that use municipal grounds or halls for their events, like the popular concerts at the Transfer Beach Ampitheatre.

By using the same fees and permits for touring musicians as they use for temporary workers who come to Canada and take full-time, permanent positions, the Conservatives are demonstrating their lack of understanding of how the arts and culture sector works.

New Democrats are demanding that the federal government reconsider how these fees are applied to touring musicians and their crew and provide a system that supports the sector, not one that may force many small bars and restaurants to close.

But they are not the only businesses in Canada that have been hit with escalating fees by the Conservative government.

A new report from accounting experts Deloitte points out that Budget 2013 will raise the tax rate charged to credit unions by 17 per cent.

New Democrats opposed the decision to eliminate the small business tax rate for credit unions, which the federal government claimed would make the playing ground between Canada’s big banks and credit unions fairer and more neutral.

Now, the credit unions will have to pay more than banks because there is a technical amendment in the Budget Implementation Act, C-60, that changes the definition of which income is eligible for a rate reduction but only for credit unions.

If it is not amended by legislation, by 2017, will have to pay the increased tax rate on 100 per cent of their income, while banks enjoy a reduced rate on a percentage of their income. In real terms, this means the federal tax burden on credit unions will double over the next five years. That doesn’t seem fair or neutral to me.

A link to the Deloitte report is on my website.

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