Considering that 98 per cent of all businesses in British Columbia are small business, Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Small Business, has a very big job.
She was in Golden on Wednesday Nov. 14 as part of her tour of B.C., talking and getting feedback about the state of small business in the province. The Kicking Horse Country Chamber of Commerce hosted at Let’s Talk Small Business event at the Island Restaurant to open up the dialogue.
Yamamoto, who has been a business owner as well as the chair of the BC Chamber of Commerce, wanted to hear specific problems that small business owners are having.
“We have made a lot of progress in reducing red tape… but we don’t want to take our foot off the pedal. We have a lot of work to do,” she said.
Previous feedback has revealed that 69 per cent of business owners identify high property tax as their biggest expense, and biggest barrier to expanding. However, with the responsibilities of municipal governments increasing, it doesn’t look like that is something that will change.
When it comes to red tape, the biggest problem (identified by both Yamamoto and several attendees at the event) is the reintroduction of the PST when the HST is scrapped in April.
“It’s the stupidest tax,” said Yamamoto, citing the various exemptions and regulations that make the PST an accounting nightmare.
The referendum on the HST stated that the tax structure would go back to the previous system, so all the red tape associated with the PST is also coming back.
“That’s not to say that we won’t make changes after the PST comes back in though,” she said.
Even with the tax changes, which Yamamoto worries will be a headache for business owners and investors, B.C. is thriving when in comes to attracting investment. B.C. is also incurring debt at a much slower rate than Alberta and Ontario.
In other words, even though some businesses are struggling, and changes still need to be made, Yamamoto was very optimistic about the future of the province.
She still wants feedback, however, which can be made at bcsmallbizaccord.ca.