B.C. throne speech and budget reveal priorities for 2020

Published February 21, 2020

British Columbia kicked off a new legislative session on Feb. 11 with a throne speech from Lt-Gov. Janet Austin announcing the government’s priorities for the year ahead. Then on Feb. 18 the government delivered its 2020 budget, further revealing its objectives for the near future.

Below are highlights of note for the foodservice sector.

Plastics action plan on the way

The 2020 speech from the throne included the following statement of particular importance for the province’s foodservice community:

“This year, government will release a plastics action plan to reduce plastic pollution and keep it out of B.C.’s landfills and waterways.”

Restaurants Canada has been participating in consultations on this action plan and looks forward to continuing our work with B.C. government and other industry stakeholders toward an approach that can be scaled across the country.

Restaurants Canada continues to advocate for:

  • A whole-of-society approach, recognizing the need for consumer education.
  • Evidence-based policies and reasonable timelines for the adoption of alternative materials and technological innovations that result in best possible environmental outcomes.
  • Consistent standards that facilitate coordinated action across jurisdictions.

Changes coming to disability assistance and paid leave rules

The 2020 speech from the throne also included the following statements about changes coming to the province’s labour rules:

“This year, government will once again lift earnings exemptions for people on disability and income assistance, allowing people to earn more money and support them in re-entering the workforce.

Last year, this government passed legislation giving workers fleeing domestic violence up to 10 days of unpaid job-protected leave.

This year, B.C. is taking the next step and providing these workers with paid leave, for up to five days.

And this spring, government will take steps to provide more support to workers who have suffered job-related sickness or injury.”

New tax on sugary drinks

The 2020 B.C. budget announcement revealed plans to introduce a new tax on sweetened carbonated beverages, which will come into effect on July 1 through the elimination of the current provincial sales tax exemption for food purchases applied to those beverages.

This new tax measure will require all foodservice businesses to adjust their point-of-sale systems to reflect the new 7 per cent tax on sweetened beverages by July 1, 2020.

Restaurants Canada will provide additional details on the new sweetened beverage tax once they become available.

Next steps

Restaurants Canada looks forward to continuing to work with all members of the B.C. legislature and other government stakeholders to ensure the voice of foodservice is heard on issues of importance for our industry.

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 mark@restaurantscanada.org.

Marlee Wasser

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