BC Chamber of Commerce Responds to Budget 2021

April 21, 2021

FIONA FAMULAK

BRITISH COLUMBIA — The provincial government unveiled its 2021 budget that reflects the uncertainty of the environment that both the private and public sectors are operating in. The budget demonstrates the government’s continued commitment to the financial supports needed to help businesses navigate the coming weeks and months and to building some of the infrastructure that is crucial to locking in business prosperity over the long term.

“The budget is a prudent budget, that relies heavily on the successful roll out of BC’s vaccination program and our curbing transmission, which will enable businesses to open and stay open,” said Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “We are pleased to see the continued commitment, totalling $500 million, to pandemic and recovery related supports and a further $306 million towards Other Business Supports that include the PST exemptions on select machinery and equipment.”

“We are also pleased to see that the budget aligns with our Big Thinking for Small Business Economic Recovery Plan, issued in August 2020, which calls for a post-pandemic business environment that is more competitive, innovative, and inclusive than pre-pandemic.”

Today’s budget reflects several asks made by the Chamber Network in recent years that include:

  • The PST exemption on select machinery and equipment;
  • Transportation infrastructure investment along Highway 1;
  • Investment in further developing the hydrogen economy;
  • Broadband and cellular connectivity in rural and remote communities;
  • Wholesale pricing for liquor to support hospitality licensees; and
  • Increased training space for Early Childhood Educators and funding for more spaces.

In addition, the budget aligns with the Chamber’s Big Thinking for Small Business Economic Recovery Plan, in a number of ways that include:

Pillar 1 – Let’s compete 

Competitive tax system – The government budgeted the PST exemption on machinery and equipment to September 30, 2021 by which point the exemption will have supported BC business with $470 million dollars in tax relief.

Transportation infrastructure to keep supply chains and people moving – Budget 2021 will deliver an additional $3.5 billion in capital spending for projects in the healthcare, education, and transportation sectors.

Pillar 2 – Let’s innovate 

Connectivity for rural and remote communities – Government will invest $40 million per year over 3 years in its connectivity strategy to provide reliable high-speed broadband to rural, remote, and Indigenous communities and unlock opportunities for businesses to better access local, regional, and global markets.

Clean BC plan that supports renewable energy and green economy solutions – Government will invest an additional $506 million to help reduce emissions, drive clean energy and cleantech.

Tourism – Government will support the hard-hit tourism sector with $120 million to ensure businesses navigate successfully through and beyond the pandemic and are ready to welcome visitors once again.

Pillar 3 – Let’s be inclusive 

Women and minorities in the labour market – Government will invest $4 million to train or re-train unemployed or under-employed workers to support in-demand sectors such as construction and technology.

Housing affordability – Government will focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing for low- and middle-income households through its $2 billion investment in the Housing Hub.

Investing in childcare – Government will invest $233 million in the New Spaces Fund over 3 years to create an additional 2,500 – 3,000 spaces per year and improve access to ECE training by adding 110 more post-secondary seats in B.C. and providing $94 million over the same 3 years to double the current ECE wage enhancement to a $4 an hour increase.

“While we’re encouraged to see movement on numerous items highlighted in our Big Thinking for Small Business Economic Recovery Plan, we would like to have seen some long-term commitments to, for example, crucial trade infrastructure such as the Asia Pacific Gateway, transportation infrastructure around the province and investment in aerospace innovation in areas outside the Lower Mainland.” said Famulak. “That said, today’s budget is understandably prudent, and we look forward to working with government and stakeholders to get BC on track to sustained economic recovery.”

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