Trade war, payroll tax could be behind B.C. small business confidence dip: pollster

Canadian Federation for Independent Business poll suggests B.C. is fourth most optimistic province

Small business owners in B.C. aren’t feeling too confident this spring, suggests a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Their optimism slipped the most of the Western provinces, with it a 3.6-percentage-point drop to 65.9 per cent since February.

CFIB western economist Aaron Aerts said the drop is concerning, but there’s “nothing to panic about” – yet.

“We consider 65 per cent and up to be relatively healthy,” Aerts said. “So 65.9 per cent is not a bad number.”

He said the dip in confidence could be tied to B.C.’s recent pipeline trade war with Alberta, as well as in anticipation of the new payroll tax coming in next January.

“The payroll tax will be felt in the bottom line… by those who are looking at expanding their businesses.”

He said any concerns are just speculation for now. “It will be really telling once the tax is introduced. Fear of a tax is one thing, it’s another thing to actually pay it.”

The payroll health tax, which replaces Medical Service Plan premiums, will hit all businesses with an annual payroll of more than $500,000. Those with payrolls between $500,000-$1.5 million will pay a yet-to-be-determined rate, while those at more than $1.5 million will pay 1.95 per cent.

The tax, which comes into effect next January, means that businesses already paying health premiums for their employees will pay double the amount in 2019 before MSP is phased out in 2020.

Despite gloomy predictions for the future, Aerts said B.C. companies are still hiring in the short-term.

“We’re seeing healthy hiring intentions,” he said, noting that 27 per cent of small business owners are look to hire, compared to just nine per cent looking to cut back.

“In the short term, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in terms of employment.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Find out what the tax increase will be in your area of the Tri-Port

The Gazette reached out to all three communities financial departments requesting numbers to crunch

Tree falls inches away from Port Hardy home

The tree narrowly missed the residence on Wolleson Street

Port Hardy firefighters to earn money for calls

Council has approved a Fire Department Remuneration policy

A memorial mural will be painted in Port Hardy

The mural will honour lives lost to substance abuse and mental health

VIDEO: North Island Local Hero Awards 2018

On the North Island, we are blessed with many different kinds of heroes.

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

Passersby help rescue occupants of home as fire breaks out in Courtenay

Coffee run turns into fire rescue for pair of men

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

RCMP investigating after gunshots fired in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating after gunshots rang out in Courtenay… Continue reading

Vancouver Island wife brings husband back to life with CPR, thanks to 911 dispatcher

‘The dispatcher literally taught me CPR over the phone’

Most Read