Trade war, payroll tax could be behind B.C. small business confidence dip: pollster

Canadian Federation for Independent Business poll suggests B.C. is fourth most optimistic province

Small business owners in B.C. aren’t feeling too confident this spring, suggests a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Their optimism slipped the most of the Western provinces, with it a 3.6-percentage-point drop to 65.9 per cent since February.

CFIB western economist Aaron Aerts said the drop is concerning, but there’s “nothing to panic about” – yet.

“We consider 65 per cent and up to be relatively healthy,” Aerts said. “So 65.9 per cent is not a bad number.”

He said the dip in confidence could be tied to B.C.’s recent pipeline trade war with Alberta, as well as in anticipation of the new payroll tax coming in next January.

“The payroll tax will be felt in the bottom line… by those who are looking at expanding their businesses.”

He said any concerns are just speculation for now. “It will be really telling once the tax is introduced. Fear of a tax is one thing, it’s another thing to actually pay it.”

The payroll health tax, which replaces Medical Service Plan premiums, will hit all businesses with an annual payroll of more than $500,000. Those with payrolls between $500,000-$1.5 million will pay a yet-to-be-determined rate, while those at more than $1.5 million will pay 1.95 per cent.

The tax, which comes into effect next January, means that businesses already paying health premiums for their employees will pay double the amount in 2019 before MSP is phased out in 2020.

Despite gloomy predictions for the future, Aerts said B.C. companies are still hiring in the short-term.

“We’re seeing healthy hiring intentions,” he said, noting that 27 per cent of small business owners are look to hire, compared to just nine per cent looking to cut back.

“In the short term, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about in terms of employment.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

The Museum at Campbell River and Greenways Land Trust are hosting a virtual talk by UVIC PhD candidate Garth Covernton on Nov. 5. Tickets are only $7 and are available at crmusum.ca. Photo courtesy Garth Covernton
New Museum at Campbell River speaker series leads off with talk on microplastics

Tickets for digital event Nov. 5 are only $7 and include the opportunity to ask questions

North Island Votes. Campbell River Mirror graphic
Babchuk declared winner in North Island

Nearly three-quarters of votes counted and mail-in ballots still to come

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read