Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questions the NDP government in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 25, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Todd Stone: More action needed to save B.C. businesses

‘This pandemic recovery effort is about people’

By Todd Stone

Running a business isn’t easy at the best of times. It’s a monumental undertaking, and it may take many months or even years before your business feels stable.

Once you’ve surpassed the numerous challenges that threaten your initial viability and have found some measure of success, there’s always the ‘unknown’ to worry about. As a former business owner, I would often find myself lying awake at night wondering what tomorrow’s obstacles might look like.

Today, that challenge for B.C.’s business community is COVID-19. The latest data from Statistics Canada showed nearly 8,000 businesses are temporarily or permanently closed, and a fall survey by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade noted only 40 per cent of all businesses expect to return to normal operations, relative to pre-pandemic levels.

John Horgan and his NDP government promised 10 months ago that relief was coming but the support has been slow, cumbersome and unhelpful. Many business owners feel like the government isn’t listening to their concerns or acting quickly enough to address them.

This is why our B.C. Liberal caucus held a virtual community townhall, bringing together a diverse group of business people. They aired their concerns and shared practical solutions that we, as B.C.’s Official Opposition, can help advocate for and hopefully bring to fruition.

We heard from people across the province including Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, who spoke about the need for a comprehensive provincial tax review to lessen the impact businesses are seeing on their bottom line. This includes the Provincial Sales Tax and Employer Health Tax.

The latter, for example, essentially penalizes employers for creating jobs and raising employee wages. Employers have been forced to reduce hiring plans, pause plans to give raises, and increase prices for customers because of this damaging tax.

Meanwhile, some tourism operators shared concerns with the government’s Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program and the requirement for monthly financial reports – which simply aren’t produced by many seasonal tourism businesses. They question the ‘wisdom’ of hiring extra accountants to do that work in the middle of an already costly pandemic, when these businesses likely have no revenue to prove that they qualify for grants. It’s just more bureaucracy and red tape.

RELATED: B.C. eases rules for COVID-19 small business help

This pandemic recovery effort is about people. It’s about supporting the livelihoods of our successful entrepreneurs and protecting the numerous jobs they create, as well as the wages their workers bring home to their families and spend in our communities— helping to rebuild our struggling economy.

The latest jobs numbers from Statistics Canada showed 33,600 fewer British Columbians were working in December compared to pre-pandemic levels in February. After rebounding a bit in the summer, employment growth started to slow down in October when John Horgan called his unnecessary election.

When the premier stopped working, so did many British Columbians. I urge this government to listen to the business owners who are pleading for more support— and take more decisive action now so the situation doesn’t worsen.

Todd Stone is the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
SD71 to address COVID-19 exposures with virtual town hall

The meeting is set for Thursday, March 4

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Left: Oakland County Jail. Right: Vancouver Canucks Todd Bertuzzi on this November 2. (CP/Chuck Stoody)
Former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi arrested for suspected DUI: report

The Canadian winger had a complicated history during his time in the NHL

The south coast of B.C. as capture by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. (European Space Agency)
VIDEO: Images of B.C.’s south coast from space released by European Space Agency

The satellite images focus on a variety of the region’s landmarks

A copy of the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” by Dr. Seuss, rests in a chair, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Walpole, Mass. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” because of insensitive and racist imagery. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

Books affected include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer

FILE – Oshawa Generals forward Anthony Cirelli, left, shoots and scores his team’s first goal against Kelowna Rockets goalie Jackson Whistle during second period action at the Memorial Cup final in Quebec City on Sunday, May 31, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

League includes Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants, Victoria Royals

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Nelson society raises $400K to save regional park from logging project

The Nelson community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

Most Read