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

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Alcohol and drugs ruled out in serious crash that closed Sooke Rd last week

All three drivers taken to hospital have since been released

Crashes and tickets are up in Sidney/North Saanich

New traffic stats show more crashes and tickets, likely due to more enforcement

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Only tent city residents allowed access at Goldstream Park campsites

Local RCMP point to reports of criminal activity and drug use in the area as cause for safety concerns

Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Langford residents opposed to campers voice concerns at campground gate

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

Most Read