VICTORIA – The recently announced British Columbia budget is getting mixed reviews from stakeholders.
The NDP/Green government unveiled its first provincial budget on Sept. 11 and amongst its impacts to the construction industry are a promise to spend $208 million on more than 1,700 new affordable housing units, $291 million for the construction of 2,000 units for the homeless and $170 million for 24/7 staff and support services.
Other measures include phasing out the PST for electricity and a reduction of the small business corporate income tax rate from 2.5 per cent to two per cent. The general corporate income tax will go up from 11 to 12 per cent.
"We’re putting people first by improving the services they need and making their lives more affordable while supporting a strong, stable economy that provides good jobs across our province," B.C. finance minister Carole James said in a statement.
The British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) said while it supports a budget that prioritizes families and working people, it questioned some of the decisions in the document.
"These actions have the potential to increase the fiscal burden on British Columbians, reduce the number of project and employment opportunities for skilled tradespeople, make it more expensive to do business in B.C. and undermine investment confidence in our province," a BCCA news release stated.
The BCCA also pointed to the changes in the B.C. tax code as concerning given small business tax increases have been proposed at the federal level.
The budget calls for infrastructure spending of $14.6 billion over three years, a move the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA) welcomed.
"Increasing the province’s investment in infrastructure is an important step in the right direction. We’re eager to work with the government to plan and build needed infrastructure and provide new opportunities for B.C.’s skilled workforce," said PCA regional director for B.C. Rieghardt van Enter.
But the PCA is opposed to the increase in the corporate tax rate.
"This is not the way to attract investment and encourage industry to create jobs in B.C. We believe the tax increase will have a negative impact on the investment climate in this province," van Enter said.