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

Prince Rupert’s Bobby Brown celebrated his 95th birthday milestone on March 5 with family across the country in an online celebration. (Photo: supplied by Jodi Brown)
Prince Rupert man celebrates 95th birthday milestone online

Five generations come together COVID-19 style in Prince Rupert to say “Happy Birthday”

Main door at Cranes Crossing, Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter, on March 5. Northern Health issued a public notice of potential exposure occurring at the shelter between Feb. 22 and 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 Public Exposure Notice issued for Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter

Northern Health said possible exposure between Feb. 22 and 24

Air Canada cancelled flights to Prince Regional Airport on Jan. 23, 2021 due to loss of ridership during COVID-19. An Air Canada Rouge takes off from Montreal in March 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
BC Liberals call for immediate action and support for B.C. airports

Prince Rupert Regional Airport and others across the province struggle with COVID-19 effects

Paul Williams rector of St. Andrews Cathedral in Prince Rupert sits in front of the 95-year-old pipe organ on March 5. The church has put out a community call for volunteers to play the instrument to keep it fresh and operational. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
St. Andrews Cathedral pipe organ needs players to make it sing

Prince Rupert volunteers who want to practice their playing skills are welcome

Alex Campbell, Velna Nelson, Beatrice Robinson and Ellen Mason take part in the Sm’algyax Word App and website launched by School District 52 on March 1. (Photo: Supplied by Roberta Edzera)
Prince Rupert SD 52 launches new Sm’algyax word app and website

Database for new language resources stems back more than 30 years

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read