BRITISH COLUMBIA — Today in Victoria, the Government of British Columbia released its 2023 budget that prioritizes spending for important social and community initiatives but comes at the expense of addressing increasing costs facing BC’s businesses and the province’s competitiveness.
“While today’s budget focused on affordability and reducing the cost of living, it provided little support to businesses who are struggling with the cost of doing business,” said Fiona Famulak, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “In order to have healthy communities, we need to ensure we have healthy businesses. Today’s budget did not take meaningful steps towards addressing the concerns that we have raised.”
Government has allocated $8.7 billion more in operating funding and will run deficits totalling $11 billion over the course of the fiscal plan. Capital spending on critical infrastructure, such as schools, transit, roads and hospitals, will reach a record $37.5 billion while the provincial debt is forecast to be $99.5 billion at the end of 2025/26.
“Of particular concern to small- and medium-sized businesses is the increase to the carbon tax of $15 per tonne per year through 2030 with little to offset the costs they will incur,” said Famulak. “This is going to impact our supply chains and raise costs of producing goods in British Columbia.”
“The BC Chamber of Commerce is optimistic the new Future Ready Plan will provide small- and medium-sized businesses with support to address critical labour force challenges,” said Famulak. “However, details remain unclear and we will be working on behalf of our members to understand how the government’s $480 million investment will be allocated.”
Some of the measures in today’s budget reflect priorities the BC Chamber of Commerce, and its provincial network, have been calling on government to introduce, including:
- $77 million towards increased investments to address delays in permitting approval in the natural resource sectors.
- Increased supports to address significant societal issues that have a direct impact on business, including housing, homelessness and mental health.
- $58 million directed towards speeding up foreign credential recognition for qualified professionals.
“This budget was an opportunity for government to help businesses navigate through and beyond a very difficult past few years. A step such as adjusting the Employer Health Tax threshold would have demonstrated that government is willing to address the challenges that many of our members face,” Famulak said. “Unfortunately, that opportunity was missed.”