Andrew Wilkinson: NDP must think that business incomes grow on trees

MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena Andrew Wilkinson. Photography by John Lehmann

Everyone in B.C. should be concerned about the tax increases the NDP have just introduced that will restrict economic growth and prosperity. All British Columbians are going to pay a lot more tax under this new NDP budget.

In their first full budget as government, the NDP created serious problems for job growth and stability in this province. They did so with their “Employer Health Tax”, a rude surprise for every organization in B.C. with a payroll above $500,000. This new tax will apply to every employer with more than about eight staff members.

This doesn’t just apply to businesses. School boards, municipalities, universities and charities are all scrambling to figure out how they will pay this new tax.

The Richmond School Board is one example. They have calculated the Employer’s Health Tax will cost them over $2 million. As we asked the NDP in the Legislature: Where will those dollars come from? Cancel plans to hire new teachers? Scale back on classroom spending?

A non-profit charitable organization in Surrey contacted our caucus, frantic because they now have to find an extra $40,000. What for? For this new NDP health tax. Where will that come from? Cut community services? Lay off employees?

Simon Fraser University is estimating a whopping $7-million increase in its tax bill. Should they raise tuition for students? Eliminate classes and programs? The NDP have no plan to fund this new burden on higher education.

And of course, businesses all across the province are wondering what they will do to offset this new double taxation under the NDP. Raise prices on consumers? Reduce competitiveness? Lay off staff?

The NDP repeatedly makes decisions as though money grows on trees — if they take it from an employer, they seem to think employees won’t be affected.

According to Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan, there is no reason to hope that exemptions will be offered. At the moment, she and her colleagues are laughing off these serious concerns with refusals to clarify whether, and how, they will offer much-needed relief to cash-strapped employers in both the public and private sectors.

Our B.C. Liberal Opposition is working hard to hold the NDP government to account for this reckless tax grab. We will continue to highlight the stories of organizations impacted by the government’s poor decision-making and will press the finance minister to scrap this devastating tax scheme.

In the meantime, British Columbians need to be deeply concerned. With their recent budget, the NDP government has once again shown they do not understand the harmful long-term effects of their tax grab policies and simply cannot be trusted with the livelihoods of you and your family members.

Andrew Wilkinson is leader of B.C.’s Liberal Opposition.

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