Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Todd Stone: More action needed to save B.C. businesses

‘This pandemic recovery effort is about people’

By Todd Stone

Running a business isn’t easy at the best of times. It’s a monumental undertaking, and it may take many months or even years before your business feels stable.

Once you’ve surpassed the numerous challenges that threaten your initial viability and have found some measure of success, there’s always the ‘unknown’ to worry about. As a former business owner, I would often find myself lying awake at night wondering what tomorrow’s obstacles might look like.

Today, that challenge for B.C.’s business community is COVID-19. The latest data from Statistics Canada showed nearly 8,000 businesses are temporarily or permanently closed, and a fall survey by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade noted only 40 per cent of all businesses expect to return to normal operations, relative to pre-pandemic levels.

John Horgan and his NDP government promised 10 months ago that relief was coming but the support has been slow, cumbersome and unhelpful. Many business owners feel like the government isn’t listening to their concerns or acting quickly enough to address them.

This is why our B.C. Liberal caucus held a virtual community townhall, bringing together a diverse group of business people. They aired their concerns and shared practical solutions that we, as B.C.’s Official Opposition, can help advocate for and hopefully bring to fruition.

We heard from people across the province including Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, who spoke about the need for a comprehensive provincial tax review to lessen the impact businesses are seeing on their bottom line. This includes the Provincial Sales Tax and Employer Health Tax.

The latter, for example, essentially penalizes employers for creating jobs and raising employee wages. Employers have been forced to reduce hiring plans, pause plans to give raises, and increase prices for customers because of this damaging tax.

Meanwhile, some tourism operators shared concerns with the government’s Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program and the requirement for monthly financial reports – which simply aren’t produced by many seasonal tourism businesses. They question the ‘wisdom’ of hiring extra accountants to do that work in the middle of an already costly pandemic, when these businesses likely have no revenue to prove that they qualify for grants. It’s just more bureaucracy and red tape.

RELATED: B.C. eases rules for COVID-19 small business help

This pandemic recovery effort is about people. It’s about supporting the livelihoods of our successful entrepreneurs and protecting the numerous jobs they create, as well as the wages their workers bring home to their families and spend in our communities— helping to rebuild our struggling economy.

The latest jobs numbers from Statistics Canada showed 33,600 fewer British Columbians were working in December compared to pre-pandemic levels in February. After rebounding a bit in the summer, employment growth started to slow down in October when John Horgan called his unnecessary election.

When the premier stopped working, so did many British Columbians. I urge this government to listen to the business owners who are pleading for more support— and take more decisive action now so the situation doesn’t worsen.

Todd Stone is the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read