While Restaurants Canada applauds the B.C. government for introducing a balanced budget that aims to reduce the cost of living for average British Columbians, the new budget unveiled on Feb. 19, unfortunately, does little to address concerns raised on behalf of the province’s restaurant operators.
This is the second full budget tabled by the NDP-led minority government, which continues to rely on the support of three Green Party MLAs to govern.
The budget projects a $274 million surplus in 2019/2020, despite plans to increase spending in the areas of health, education, environment, and social services.
Thankfully no new taxes were introduced on top of the many tax increases from last year, which have all now been implemented — except for the $5/tonne increase in the province’s carbon tax taking effect on April 1.
But the budget, unfortunately, did not address business community concerns about slowing economic growth and competitiveness, and did not address the tax revenue implications of slowing construction and declining home sales.
The B.C. government also ignored the following recommendations from Restaurants Canada and the Small Business Task Force related to the new Employer Health Tax: 1) An increase to the small business payroll exemption threshold and; 2) An exemption for employers from paying EHT for youth under 19 years of age already covered under their parent’s Medical Services Plan.
The new budget also does little to help small businesses address ongoing challenges with labour shortages, other than introduce a tax credit for those employing apprentices involved in Industry Training Authority programs. The tax credit can be applied to up to 20 per cent of eligible salary and wages for apprentices, up to a maximum of $4,000.
Restaurants Canada is continuing to call on the provincial government to address outstanding issues raised on behalf of the province’s foodservice sector.
There are more than 14,000 restaurants and other types of foodservice businesses in British Columbia, contributing $14 billion to the provincial economy and directly employing 180,000 people — more than 7 per cent of British Columbia’s workforce. A thriving foodservice sector is therefore critical to the wellbeing of communities across the province.
Click here to learn more about Budget 2019 on the B.C. government website.
If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada, at email@example.com or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 6500.