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

Head of ‘Yes’ campaign says RDCK money used properly in referendum

Elections BC has no problems with third parties doing educational and promotional work in a campaign

Airbnb should not accept dwellings without business licenses, city says

Nelson wants province to negotiate with the company

RDCK wants province to regulate private land logging

A resolution will go to the Union of BC Municipalities in September

Nelson Fire and Rescue responds to truck rollover, building fire

The two incidents happened within hours of each other

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

VIDEO: Trafalgar students shave their heads for cancer charity

Molly Thomson and Solana Lam raised approximately $1,000

UPDATE: Police say story of pretend cops ‘arresting’ woman in CRA scam fake

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Almost 2,400 young athletes set to compete at BC Summer Games

Full list of participants was released Friday for the Cowichan Valley event

Family raises money for B.C. man burned in campfire mishap

Harold Duncan-Williams suffered first, second and third degree burns when his shirt caught on fire

Canucks ink Markus Granlund to one-year extension

Finnish forward’s contract is worth US$1.475 million

Warning issued as swimmer dies, boater missing this week in B.C. waters

Coroner says statistics show a spike in drownings beginning in May and rising through August

Around 40,000 lightning strikes and over 200 new fires in B.C. in the past two days

‘We’re expecting that the worst of the lightning is now over’

BREAKING: Police responding to alleged bomb threat

Multiple RCMP cruisers, officers on site at Cranbrook Dodge this morning.

PHOTO: Shark spotted near Vancouver beach

Woman snaps photo of a seal, heron and what’s believed to be a Pacific spiny dogfish

Most Read