Harmac pulp mill near Nanaimo: forest products companies are major users of electricity.

B.C. considers business sales tax relief

Finance Minister Mike de Jong considers giving up $160 million in provincial sales tax revenue added to business electricity bills

B.C. is the only place in North America that charges sales tax on business electricity bills, a cost the finance ministry is considering removing to help the struggling forest and mining industries.

The issue was identified in November when an expert panel on tax competitiveness reported back to Finance Minister Mike de Jong. It noted that the province takes in $160 million from provincial sales tax (PST) on electricity bills, part of a generally high-tax environment for business and investment in B.C. relative to the national average.

[See commission report below]

Last week, mayors of eight forest-dependent communities wrote to de Jong and Premier Christy Clark, asking for PST relief for lumber, pulp and paper producers in their communities.

“Communities in rural B.C. are not experiencing the same economic growth enjoyed in Lower Mainland communities,” wrote the mayors of North Cowichan, Quesnel, Vernon, Port Alberni, Mackenzie, Powell River, Taylor and Port Alice.

“Eliminating the PST on electricity for businesses is meaningful action you can take that would not only help the forestry industry and the jobs it supports, but will also benefit the mining industry and other energy-intensive job creators in our province.”

The finance ministry issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that de Jong is “considering this proposal along with many other spending priorities as we prepare the upcoming provincial balanced budget and longer-term fiscal plan.”

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the issue has come up over the years, but the Commission on Tax Competitiveness report has created a “unified focus” among groups including the B.C. Business Council, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Vancouver Board of Trade as well as mining and forestry associations.

It would be a cabinet decision that would only be revealed when de Jong tables the provincial budget Feb. 21.

“Taking PST off the purchase of electricity would help pulp mills, would help the sawmills, would help the mines,” Bennett said Wednesday. “It would help small business, and B.C. is one of the only, if not the only jurisdiction that charges sales tax on purchase of electricity.”

The commission found that B.C.’s PST is an impediment to investment in machinery and equipment, which it found to be the third lowest of any Canadian province.

CommissionOnTaxCompetitiveness Nov 2016 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd

Just Posted

Local Hero Awards coming to the North Island

“These people are making a difference in our communities and deserve to get recognized.”

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Grant funding denied for Fort Rupert Curling Club’s new roof, District on the hook for full costs

“I think we did our job in helping the curling club have a facility that is no longer leaking.”

Port Hardy Fire Rescue puts out structure fire

Approximately 20 firefighters responded to the incident.

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw warns dealers and bootleggers they are not welcome

“My hope is that our community works together on this problem as one.”

B.C. boy denied $19,000-per-month drug to ease ‘crippling pain’ for 3rd time

Sooke mom Jillian Lanthier says son Landen Alexa has been forgotten about by Premier John Horgan

Did you get Hitched in Courtenay on Sunday?

The first annual wedding show saw big crowds and included two fashion shows

Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by Canadian immigrant

“This is a good example, I think, that will be helpful to change views about immigration. And maybe for Mr. Trump himself to consider immigrants as contributors to advancing science, advancing our societies.”

Rival Koreas agree to form first unified Olympic team

The rival Koreas took major steps toward reducing their bitter animosity

Canada, U.S. lead call for sanctions against North Korea

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting in Vancouver to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announces engagement

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh engaged to clothing designer Gurkiran Kaur

Hijab-cutting case highlights ethical issues with putting kids in spotlight

A Toronto police investigation has concluded a girl’s hijab was not cut by a scissors-wielding man as she walked to school

Change in politics, society on sexual misconduct ‘not fast enough,’ says Trudeau

Trudeau says society still lagging behind the systemic changes he is trying to make when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual harassment

Bank of Canada to make interest rate decision today

Economists widely believe that based on the economic environment, it’s likely interest rates will rise today

Most Read