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

Busy day for Penticton Search and Rescue

PENSAR was called to three separate incidents Sunday, Dec. 16

Gifts collected for Operation Santa Claus

Presents were dropped off at the Summerland Review

Building was once a drug store

Hogg Store building in Summerland is a community landmark

Warm weather ahead for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada says no snow at lower altitudes until Wednesday night

Christmas wish for Mirielle: love and carpets

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Book Talk: Series stand outs

Novels in a great series can stand on their own

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

CSRD Wants help figuring out antique survey equipment

The piece of equipment was used by Peter Jennings to map out the North Fork Wild near Craigellachie

Kelowna Gospel Mission celebrates Grandpa Lloyd’s success

In a video it shares how an outreach worker helped get Lloyd off the streets

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read