(May 16/17) The old saying that every vote counts has proven true in B.C.’s May 9 provincial election. Following a hard-fought, close election, British Columbians will have to wait at least a couple of weeks to know if they have a minority, majority or coalition government. This uncertainty leaves the fate of three hotly debated restaurant issues unknown.
Issue 1: B.C. VAT
After considering the B.C. Tax Competitiveness Commission’s recommendation to introduce a B.C. Value Added Tax, Premier Christy Clark decided against it. The B.C. VAT would likely have removed the PST exemption from restaurant meals, bringing our industry back to the short-lived, but hated days of the HST.
Public opinion convinced the Premier to unequivocally reject the B.C. VAT proposal, which keeps haircuts and restaurant meals PST-exempt.
Issue 2: City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Bylaw
The Liberals promised to veto the City of Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Bylaw, which will restrict and eventually eliminate natural gas in all new buildings.This change will significantly increase leasing and operating costs for Vancouver restaurateurs. If the Liberals end up in a minority government relying on Green Party support, they may have to adopt this costly environmental policy.
Issue 3: Minimum wage of $15 an hour
The NDP’s promise to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour would hurt our industry’s ability to grow and create jobs. Restaurants Canada wrote a Vancouver Sun op/ed on the negative impacts of this policy. If there is an NDP minority or coalition government with the Green Party, this policy could be put in place.
Where things stand now
The preliminary B.C. election results give the Liberals 43 seats, the NDP, 41 seats, and the Green Party, three seats. However, this could change after more than 170,000 absentee ballots are counted from May 22 to 24, especially as four ridings had close races.
Restaurants Canada will keep you updated on the latest election news and impact on our industry.