Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James take questions in the B.C. legislature. (Hansard TV)

Business groups call for payroll tax to be cancelled

NDP government under fire for ‘double dipping’ employer health tax

Business groups representing retail, restaurants, hotels, construction companies, tourism and small business are calling on the B.C. government to rethink its payroll tax to fund health care.

The organizations wrote to B.C. Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James Tuesday, asking them to withdraw the “employer health tax” imposed in the NDP budget to take effect January 2019. The tax is on payrolls greater than $500,000 and is to finance the elimination of Medical Services Plan payments in 2020.

The letter calls it “double dipping” and “disingenuous and unfair to taxpayers” for the government to begin charging the new tax while still collecting MSP for the year 2019.

The letter is signed by representatives of Restaurants Canada, the B.C. Hotel Association, B.C. Construction Employers, the Independent Contractors and Business Association, Progressive Contractors Association, Retail Council of Canada, The Urban Development Institute, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Tourism Industry B.C.

The business groups point out that the payroll tax comes on top of minimum wage increases totalling 42 per cent since 2011, an increase to Canada Pension Plan payroll costs beginning in 2019 and property taxes expected to rise as local governments cover the health care tax costs.

RELATED: Fraser valley grower condemns health tax

“This tax is a job killer,” said Chris Gardner, president of the ICBA. “It came completely out of left field, with absolutely no consultation before it was announced.”

James and Horgan have also been under pressure in the B.C. legislature, for the effect of the payroll tax and a still-undefined “speculation tax” on empty homes in the province.

In question period Tuesday, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson asked Horgan if firefighters sitting in the public gallery were going to be exempted from the tax. Horgan repeated what James has been saying in recent days, which is that discussions with municipalities, health authorities and school districts are still underway.

“After 16 years of doubling MSP premiums, we’re going to be getting rid of MSP premiums,” Horgan said.

Just Posted

Expanded opportunities at recycling depots

New items not included in curbside pick-up programs to be accepted

Update: Shuswap wildfires now under control or contained

Three fires reported overnight in Silver Creek, Logan Creek and Mt. Ida

Coldstream standoff suspect enters five guilty pleas

Accused man pleads guilty to five more counts from February standoff with police.

Salmon Arm Rotary Club contributes to new Blackburn Park picnic shelter

Construction is expected to start soon on structure replacing one removed in 2015

Big summer plans for Big White

A new season has dawned at Big White

Indigenous celebration in Shuswap draws crowd

Beautiful day at Pierre’s Point to join national day to recognize Indigenous peoples

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Letter: Salmon Arm gas prices way out of line

Having recently suffered an eye injury requiring a trip to Vancouver, I… Continue reading

Letter: Trump makes Trudeau look weak

I am in alliance with J. Muir on the topic of the… Continue reading

Letter: Biblical passage doesn’t defend Trump

Incredible! J. Muir’s defence of Donald Trump’s tyrannical presidency based on an… Continue reading

Letter: Take a stand to end tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is the world’s leading treatable infectious killer, with more than 14… Continue reading

Column: The mysteries of the beautiful Shuswap

As a kid growing up on a small farm just north of… Continue reading

Salmon Arm Fishing Derby draws many enthusiastic young anglers

Column: The Great Outdoors by James Murray

Business Spotlight: Salmon Arm barber shop celebrates 25 years

This week Martina’s Classic Barber Shoppe is celebrating 25 years of business… Continue reading

Most Read