Anita Huberman

ANITA Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade, reacting to the Budget Update on Monday, noted: “It is clear that the new BC Government is focused on taxpayer-supported capital spending on hospitals, schools, post-secondary facilities, transit and roads.”

She added: “In addition, the BC Government needs to strategically focus on saving in a time of global economic uncertainty.”

Investments for business, economy, and for Surrey are reflected in the Surrey Board of Trade’s top policy priority areas:

Health Care:
MSP Reductions: Good first step to see MSP Premiums cut in half. The Surrey Board of Trade’s policy is the elimination of the MSP.

Tax:
a) Reducing the small business corporate income tax rate from 2.5% to 2%;
b) Phasing out the provincial sales tax on electricity over the next two years for business to help support industry competitiveness and job growth;
c) Increasing the general corporate income tax rate to 12%, up from 11%; and,
d) Introducing a personal income tax rate of 16.8% on taxable income over $150,000, up from 14.7%.

The Surrey Board of Trade continues to call for a review or overhaul of the overly onerously administratively burden imposed by the PST and calls for government to revisit a Value Added Tax System in BC to harness further capital investments and business investments.

International Trade:
We did not see any investments in this area.

Transportation:
The Surrey Board of Trade didn’t observe anything specific to the overall Mayor’s Regional Plan for Transit and Transportation investments in this BC Budget,; however, are aware of the BC Government’s commitment to this plan.

Economy:
a) The establishment of an Innovation Commission, emerging economy task force and the fair wages commission; and,
b) Restoration of the tax benefit for credit unions.

The Surrey Board of Trade will look forward to  hearing more about industry creation in partnership with the private sector to generate revenue.

Education Funding:
a) A $681-million increase for B.C.’s kindergarten-to-grade 12 education system over three years. This includes $521 million to improve classroom supports for children for up to 3,500 new teaching positions, $160 million for enrolment growth and other pressures, along with $50 million in capital funding to provide the resources needed to help all children succeed;
b) $19 million for the restoration of free adult basic education and English language learning in both the K-12 and post-secondary sectors;
c) $2.6 billion for post-secondary institutions around the province to invest in priority projects to build capacity and help meet the need for the province’s future workforce needs in key sectors, including science, trades and technology; and,
d) $2 billion to maintain, replace, renovate or expand K–12 facilities, including continued investments in new school space to accommodate increasing enrollment in growing districts and continued investments in seismically upgrading or replacing schools.
These are good first steps.

Public Safety:
a) $322 million to provide an immediate and evidence-based response to the fentanyl emergency with prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery efforts, improved data collection and analysis, along with a new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and increased law enforcement to disrupt the supply chain; and,
b) Continued focus needs to be on investments and strategies for the Guns & Gang Strategy is good for Surrey, as the Surrey Board of Trade continues in collaboration with the City of Surrey to attract business and good quality jobs. Public Safety is important to ensure we have a livable city.  The Surrey Board of Trade will be announcing business public safety initiatives later this year.

Social Infrastructure Spending:
The Surrey Board of Trade has been a leader in developing policy and instigating change around social investments from a business lens.

  1. a)$472 million to provide an increase of $100 per month for both income and disability assistance;
  2. b)A $200-a-month increase to the earnings exemption for income and disability assistance recipients to help people connect to employment;
  3. c)Nearly $500 million on housing initiatives to address homelessness and make housing more affordable These provincial investments will support the construction of over 3,700 housing units as part of government’s commitment to help build 114,000 units of housing over 10 years, in partnership with local governments, the federal government, and the private and not-for-profit sectors; and,
  4. d)Child Care: This announcement did not provide any news with respect to additional child care spaces.

 

Construction Industry 
a) $208 million for the construction of over 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing; and,
b) $291 million to support the construction of 2,000 modular housing units for people who are homeless and more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services.

Environment
a) The Province will act to reduce carbon emissions by increasing the carbon tax rate on April 1, 2018, by $5 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emissions, while increasing the climate action tax credit to support low and middle-income families; and,
b) The requirement for the carbon tax to be revenue-neutral is eliminated so carbon tax revenues can support families and fund green initiatives that help address the Province’s climate-action commitments.
c) The Surrey Board of Trade will be watching for bottom line impact to businesses.

 

BC’s taxpayer-supported debt to GDP ratio remains low compared to recent fiscal years, peaking at 16.4% in 2018-19 and ending the fiscal plan period at 16.3%.

Due in part to BC’s stronger than projected economic growth, the Budget 2017 Update forecasts elimination of government’s operating debt by 2019-20.

Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $44.9 billion in 2017-18, $47 billion in 2018-19, and $48.6 billion in 2019-20. Taxpayer-supported debt is projected to end the fiscal plan period higher than Budget 2017 due mainly to significant investments in capital infrastructure over the next three years and the one-time impact from government’s decision to cancel tolls on the Port Mann Bridge. Debt increases associated with new investments include $2.8 billion for education and health facilities, $3.8 billion for transportation sector projects, and $1.7 billion for other initiatives over the three-year period.

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