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

Bowser residents protest marine sewage outfall plan

Veenhof and staff endures harsh criticisms at public information meeting

Qualicum Beach society goes to bat for insect eaters

Two bat houses built to monitor population in Heritage Forest

Parksville reopens portion of wetland

City undertakes review, remediation of liability concerns

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Las Vegas Golden Knights move on to Stanley Cup final

Improbable run continues for NHL’s newest expansion team

Oregon’s flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale to B.C.

‘In a broader sense, we are adding legal production to an already robust illegal production’

Friends and family playing huge role in search for Vancouver Island man

Volunteers from the public join forces with SAR crews

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Mid Island’s Lego community creating, co-operating

Mid Island Lego Users Group is always looking for creative new members

Central Vancouver Island man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road near Port Alberni

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Most Read