Ensuring affordability and competitiveness key to economic prosperity

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Feb. 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) applaud the government for its sixth consecutive balanced budget. The government is projecting a budget surplus over the next three fiscal years ­– $219 million in 2018-19; $281 million in 2019-20; and $284 million in 2020-21. And it is expecting to eliminate the province’s operating debt by the end of 2018-19, a year ahead of what was forecasted in Budget Update 2017.

The government’s fiscal responsibility has allowed it to make strategic investments in housing affordability and child care, which are key areas of focus in Budget 2018. In targeting housing affordability, the government introduced a housing strategy that focuses on both the supply and demand side of B.C.’s housing crisis.

“B.C.’s CPAs have consistently ranked housing prices as the top economic issue that challenges business success in the province. We welcome the government’s focus on stabilizing the real estate market. While the details and the ultimate impact of the proposals are unknown, the government has shown a commitment to discouraging speculation, creating better transparency, and reducing tax loopholes,” said Lori Mathison, president and CEO of CPABC.

The government also made important social investments which will make life more affordable for British Columbians. They include:

  • a made-in-B.C. plan for child care, including a $1.0 billion investment to establish a new affordable child care benefit and child care fee reduction program, which should allow parents better access to employment and business opportunities;
  • $548 million over three years to improve care for seniors and $150 million to help connect those without a family doctor with team-based primary care; and
  • $105 million to reduce prescription drugs costs for low income families.

Education was also an important focus in Budget 2018, with significant investment in schools and post-secondary institutions, particularly on programs that create job-ready graduates to help address the skills gap in B.C.

“Of concern to business is the introduction of a new employer health tax to fund the announced elimination of the MSP premiums by January 1, 2020. While this tax may not impact the coffee shop around the corner, it will impact many businesses within British Columbia,” said Mathison.

Effective January 1, 2019, the employer health tax will apply to employers with payroll over $1.5 million who will pay the maximum rate of 1.95 per cent on their total payroll. For businesses with payroll between $500,000 and $1.5 million, the tax rate will phase in gradually. With a low threshold relative to other jurisdictions that have a payroll tax, the tax could impact B.C.’s overall business competitiveness and long-term economic sustainability.

CPABC commends the government for its strong support of B.C.’s Indigenous communities. Budget 2018 includes an investment of $201 million over three years for Indigenous peoples, including housing, child care, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and the Indigenous Skills Training Program. The Budget also included historic funding to Indigenous communities seeking to revitalize connections to their languages.

About CPA British Columbia
The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) is the training, governing, and regulatory body for more than 35,000 CPA members and almost 6,000 CPA students and candidates. CPABC carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the highest professional and ethical standards and contributing to the advancement of public policy. CPAs are recognized internationally for bringing superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to organizations.


CONTACT: For more information, contact Vivian Tse, Public Affairs Manager, at 604.488.2647 or vtse@bccpa.ca.