Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James take questions in the B.C. legislature. (Hansard TV)

Business groups call for payroll tax to be cancelled

NDP government under fire for ‘double dipping’ employer health tax

Business groups representing retail, restaurants, hotels, construction companies, tourism and small business are calling on the B.C. government to rethink its payroll tax to fund health care.

The organizations wrote to B.C. Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James Tuesday, asking them to withdraw the “employer health tax” imposed in the NDP budget to take effect January 2019. The tax is on payrolls greater than $500,000 and is to finance the elimination of Medical Services Plan payments in 2020.

The letter calls it “double dipping” and “disingenuous and unfair to taxpayers” for the government to begin charging the new tax while still collecting MSP for the year 2019.

The letter is signed by representatives of Restaurants Canada, the B.C. Hotel Association, B.C. Construction Employers, the Independent Contractors and Business Association, Progressive Contractors Association, Retail Council of Canada, The Urban Development Institute, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Tourism Industry B.C.

The business groups point out that the payroll tax comes on top of minimum wage increases totalling 42 per cent since 2011, an increase to Canada Pension Plan payroll costs beginning in 2019 and property taxes expected to rise as local governments cover the health care tax costs.

RELATED: Fraser valley grower condemns health tax

“This tax is a job killer,” said Chris Gardner, president of the ICBA. “It came completely out of left field, with absolutely no consultation before it was announced.”

James and Horgan have also been under pressure in the B.C. legislature, for the effect of the payroll tax and a still-undefined “speculation tax” on empty homes in the province.

In question period Tuesday, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson asked Horgan if firefighters sitting in the public gallery were going to be exempted from the tax. Horgan repeated what James has been saying in recent days, which is that discussions with municipalities, health authorities and school districts are still underway.

“After 16 years of doubling MSP premiums, we’re going to be getting rid of MSP premiums,” Horgan said.

Just Posted

Sooke horseshoe club season kicks off in April

Sport is open to people of all ages and abilities

Victoria says #NeverAgain in solidarity with March For Our Lives

Youth Political Commons invites public to rally against gun violence March 24 at legislature

No injuries in single-vehicle accident on Sooke Road

Traffic moving slowly in both directions

McClure house fire saw Victoria firefighters use drone for first time in live situation

Aerial device feeds intel to crews to help formulate firefighting action plans

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Former NHL player Theo Fleury visits B.C. First Nations community

Abuse survivor Theo Fleury has been working with communities focusing on healing since 2009 and visited Esketemc First Nation in the Cariboo this week.

A B.C. council takes action in wake of former municipal politician’s sentencing

Dave Murray was sentenced to nine months for a sexual assault that occurred 26 years ago.

Harsher fines, new off-road vehicle rules in effect to combat B.C. wildfires

Anyone who starts a wildfire could be ordered to pay up to $1,000,000

Muddy water found in taps at B.C. hospital prompts investigation

Northern Health to hire consultant to examine three facilities for potential contamination

RCMP officer charged after pedestrian struck at crosswalk

A man suffered a broken leg and head lacerations after being struck by the police vehicle in 2017

It’s complicated: Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps breaks up with Facebook

“I’m quitting Facebook so I stop contributing in any way to this cycle of psychological violence where fear and anger get more air time than joy”

B.C. NDP offers tax breaks to jumpstart LNG Canada in Kitimat

‘We’re not giving away more money,’ Premier John Horgan says

Most Read