Briteland in the News
Minister insists HST vital for economy
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star
Small Business Minister Iain Black (left) learns about the grassy education station at Briteland from owner Dave Weatherill Thursday.
cory bialecki/morning star
B.C.’s small business minister warns there will be economic consequences if voters scuttle the harmonized sales tax.
Iain Black, speaking to the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Thursday, says the HST allows B.C. to tackle its deficit while eliminating red tape and leaving businesses with extra funds to create jobs.
“It’s no longer about the drama, the theatre or the partisan politics,” he said at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.
Black says the tax will lead to $11 billion in investment in the province over 10 years and it removes $2 billion in embedded taxes, with $140 million of that linked to the forest sector.
He also says that melding the goods and services tax and the provincial sales tax will reduce costly administrative functions for businesses — about $140 million in total — which can go to hiring more employees, expanded marketing or research and development.
As part of the HST, B.C. will receive a $1.6 billion transfer payment from Ottawa, and, according to Black, that will help the province reduce its deficit.
“One of the greatest fallacies is the HST represents a cash cow for government,” he said that the actual tax revenue will remain the same as before.
Black is encouraging chamber members to speak up in support of the HST.
“This is a time for trusted advisors and that’s you. We’re going to need your help if you believe in this.”
Black admits, though, that the government didn’t handle implementation of the HST well.
“It’s not been a gold star winner in communications. The approach to rolling out the HST is one of the most abysmal I’ve been a part of,” he said.
While in Vernon, Black also touched on the role the local community is playing economically.
“Vernon is ground zero for a lot of our business excellence in B.C.,” he said, pointing to programs like BizPal, the mobile business licence and the provincial nominee program which attracts skilled immigrants.
“Your chamber of commerce is extremely active. You have half of the businesses in town (as members).”
While many unions and civic leaders are currently calling for the minimum wage to be increased from $8 to $10 an hour, Black believes that would cost small businesses in B.C. $255 million and threaten jobs.
He also states the minimum wage is not as significant as the average wage, which is $22 an hour.
“The state of wages is very competitive,” he said.